Dora becomes very ill and is confined to her bed. David misses her company terribly. Agnes comes to visit. As Dora realizes that she is dying, she confides to David that she was too young to be married when she was. David wonders whether it would have been better if they had loved each other as children and then forgotten about their affair. While Agnes is upstairs, the little dog, Jip, whines at the stairs to go up to his mistress. Jip comes to David, licks his hand, and dies in front of him. When Agnes comes down, she says that Dora has died too.
Mr. Micawber, who thinks the move to Australia may be exactly what his family needs, wants to be sure that he arranges the finances between him and Miss Betsey professionally. Mrs. Micawber is very concerned that Mr. Micawber should repair her relationship with her family before they leave.
Agnes, Traddles, David, and Miss Betsey meet to discuss the Micawbers’ finances. Traddles has discovered that he can recover all of Miss Betsey’s money as well as Mr. Wickfield’s. Agnes says she will rent out the house and run a school in order to keep herself and her father financially secure.
David, meanwhile, decides he will go abroad. Traddles reports that Uriah has left town with his mother, and no one knows what has become of him. Arrangements are made to provide for the Micawbers’ debts and raise enough money to get them to Australia. Two days later, Miss Betsey takes David to a hospital and to a funeral. She tells him that her husband has died, and that he will not be a threat to her anymore.
David goes to Yarmouth to deliver a letter from Little Em’ly to Ham so that they may know of each other before Little Em’ly goes to Australia. As David travels, a terrific storm blows into Yarmouth, and the sea and wind rage. A ship from Spain is wrecked off the coast, and David and others go to the beach to watch its fate. The lifeboat has been tried and has failed, and there is no way to help. All the men on board have been killed except one, who is hanging onto a mast in his red cap and waving at the shore. Ham appears out of nowhere, back from a job he has been working on, and insists on going out into the water with a rope around his waist to try to save the last sailor. After a first failed attempt, Ham gets all the way out, but a gigantic wave sweeps the ship under and kills him. The next morning, David is fetched to the beach, where Steerforth’s body has rolled in with the morning tide.
David goes to Mrs. Steerforth and informs her that her son is dead. She is an invalid now and is lying in Steerforth’s room. Miss Dartle is present when David relays the news. She lashes out at Mrs. Steerforth, challenging her right to mourn her son, whom she made the monster he was, when she, Miss Dartle, loved Steerforth so much. Mrs. Steerforth becomes completely rigid and does not recover from the shock of learning of the death of her son.