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Summary Chapter 24

Mr. Plornish visits Little Dorrit, wishing to speak to her privately. He tells her in a long-winded way that Mr. Casby’s daughter wishes to employ her. She wants Little Dorrit to come tomorrow. He also tells her how touched in the head and mean Mr. F’s aunt is, and how Mr. Pancks works for Mr. Casby.

The next morning, Little Dorrit goes to Flora’s house. Flora is having a late start. Little Dorrit is too shy to take too much part of the breakfast that Flora offers, though she nearly faints at the sight of food. Flora babbles on about how she wants to help Little Dorrit because Arthur Clennam holds her in such high regard.

Flora gives Little Dorrit her history, starting from when she and Arthur Clennam were forcibly separated by both sides of parents, and how this lead to her marriage to Mr. F. She goes on to say that Mr. F was an excellent gentleman in many ways, but not in all. He was very possessive of her.

Little Dorrit tells Flora that Mrs. Clennam is kind to her. Flora says that she has a better opinion about the woman now than she did then. However, Mrs. Clennam had a habit of glaring at her when she talked—though she blames it on her being an invalid.

Little Dorrit asks if there is any work to do. Flora would rather talk, but Little Dorrit says she can work and listen at the same time. She would prefer it. Flora gives her some handkerchiefs to mend.

Flora rambles on about her marriage and recently seeing Arthur again after all these years. He hasn’t changed, but she doesn’t know if he loves her anymore. She knows he isn’t married. She wonders if he is just being reserved, since he is aware of watchful eyes. For all this reason, Little Dorrit can rely on her being a friend.

Amy Dorrit is grateful. Flora fears Little Dorrit is ill and doesn’t want her to continue working. Amy assures her she is okay, just overwhelmed with gratitude. She wants to sit by the window for some air. She seems to recover.

Amy Dorrit gives Flora a brief history of herself, being honest about where she lives. Flora is sympathetic.

Later, Flora introduces her to Mr. Casby and Mr. Pancks. Amy is nervous around Mr. Pancks, who keeps staring at her and consulting a black book. She fears he is a creditor.

Later, he tells her he is a fortune teller. Amy begins to think he is crazy and is rather alarmed. He reveals what he knows about her family. She shall live to see, he assures her mysteriously. Little Dorrit warms up to him but is still frightened of him. He asks her not to notice his comings and goings in the future. She agrees, though she is very confused.

From that moment on, she notices Mr. Pancks following her. He appears at Mrs. Clennam’s house. He shows up at the Marshalsea. He never acknowledges her. He becomes friends with her brother. He starts associating with people who used to fear him.

Little Dorrit looks forward to the times she can retreat to her room alone. One day, Maggy comes up to say Arthur Clennam is here to see her. Little Dorrit tells Maggy to tell him she is too ill to come down. When Maggy returns, she says Mr. Clennam wants to send a doctor and intends on returning the next day.

Little Dorrit tells Maggy a story about a king who had everything. His daughter was very wise and very beautiful. Near them, there lived an old woman. One day, the princess asks the woman why she lives there all alone. The woman shows the princess a secret hiding place that has the shadow of a man. The woman says she keeps it because no one had ever been as kind to her as this man had been. No one missed the shadow, so she was doing no harm in keeping it. When she dies, the shadow will not be discovered because it will go to the grave with her.

One day, the woman dies. The princess goes to look for the shadow, but she doesn’t find it. She realizes that indeed it has went to the grave with the woman.

Maggy and Little Dorrit see Mr. Pancks, and Maggy comments that she sees him a lot at the Marshalsea these days.

Charles Dickens