David decides to visit Tommy Traddles, who, he discovers when he arrives, lives in the same building as the Micawbers. Traddles is studying for the bar. His apartment and furniture are extremely shabby, and he is struggling to earn enough money to marry his true love, who has sworn to wait for him to save the money. In the meantime, Traddles has collected two pieces of furniture, a flowerpot, and a small table.
Mr. Micawber, meanwhile, is in dire financial trouble again, although he still hopes to find work soon. Mrs. Micawber is pregnant again.
“Ride over all obstacles, and win the race!”
Mr. and Mrs. Micawber and Traddles come to dinner at David’s apartment. Mrs. Crupp agrees, after a good deal of argument, to cook dinner for them. The dinner is terribly undercooked, but Mrs. Micawber directs them all in re-cooking the meat. They enjoy themselves as they cook and eat.
Steerforth’s servant, Littimer, arrives and asks David whether he has seen Steerforth. David replies that he has not. Littimer will not tell David why he thought Steerforth might be at his house, nor will he tell him where Steerforth has been. However, Littimer insists on serving the remainder of the meal, which makes everyone uncomfortable. After Littimer leaves, the guests continue to have a merry time. They discuss Mr. Micawber’s prospects in the brewing business and conclude that they are very good.
As his friends leave, David suggests to Traddles that he neither lend anything to Mr. Micawber nor allow Micawber to use Traddles’s name to take out more credit. Traddles says he has already lent Mr. Micawber his name and adds that Mr. Micawber says that the bill is taken care of. Skeptical, David reflects that he is very glad Mr. Micawber never asked him for any money.
Steerforth appears in David’s apartment immediately after the others leave, and David tells him Traddles has just left. Steerforth does not speak highly of Traddles, and David is slightly offended. Steerforth reveals that he has been seafaring at Yarmouth. David tells him that Littimer has just been at the apartment looking for him. Steerforth says that Mr. Barkis is quite ill and delivers a letter from Peggotty to David. Steerforth remarks that it is too bad that Mr. Barkis is dying, but says that above all, a man must “[r]ide over all obstacles, and win the race!”