Mrs. Clennam lives a monotonous existence. People and places exist in memory as they had been without the alterations that have since occurred. She resists Mr. Flintwinch’s attempts to draw her into the world.
Mistress Affery is preoccupied with her sleepwalking and the strange noises she hears in the house. Mr. Flintwinch’s business brings more people and correspondence to the house. He goes out a lot too. He is interested in shipping news and closing prices. He meets with Mrs. Clennam daily to discuss business, and Mistress Affery assumes they are doing well.
Mrs. Clennam and Mr. Flintwinch have always regarded Mistress Affery as someone who wasn’t very intelligent and was extremely foolish, who is getting worse with age. Mr. Flintwinch fears his customers will question his judgment in marrying her. He orders her to never speak of their marriage and to not call him by his first name. She frequently forgets, which causes him to shake her.
Little Dorrit is packing up her things at the conclusion of a work day when Mr. Pancks visits Mrs. Clennam. At his inquiry, she says she is waiting to die. She tells Mr. Pancks that neither he nor the Casbys have to trouble themselves about her. She points to the door, and he takes the hint.
Mrs. Clennam obviously doesn’t trust Mr. Pancks. She asks Little Dorrit what she knows about him. Little Dorrit replies she has seen him about, but she never understands the strange things he says to her—though she doesn’t find what he says offensive. Mrs. Clennam asks if she is aware that he comes there to see her. Amy claims she is, but she doesn’t know why he is interested in her.
Mrs. Clennam asks if she has friends now, and whether Mr. Pancks is one of them. Little Dorrit says she has a few, but Mr. Pancks is not among them. Mrs. Clennam reminds her she was her friend when no one else was. Little Dorrit expresses her gratitude at this. Her father and she would have found their lives much harder without her aide.
Mrs. Clennam displays an uncharacteristic tenderness when dismissing her, which stuns Mrs. Affery. When she lets Little Dorrit out, she finds Mr. Pancks still lingering. He reminds Little Dorrit that he is a fortune teller. This alarms Mrs. Affery.
Mrs. Affery is further driven into hysteria by the thunderstorm. She is upset when she discovers that the door to Mrs. Clennam’s room has been blown closed by the wind, and she is locked out. She is startled by a stranger’s hand on her shoulder.
The gentleman offers to climb up the ladder and open the door for her if she will fetch Mr. Flintwinch for him. He has just come off a ship, and the weather delayed him from concluding his business with Mr. Flintwinch earlier.
Mrs. Affery agrees, though she fears he might murder Mrs. Clennam. However, he merely opens the door. Mrs. Affery upholds her end of the bargain by fetching Mr. Flintwinch. When they return, they hear Mrs. Clennam calling out, asking who is down below.