Arthur sits by Little Dorrit. He asks to put her needlework aside, seeing her tremble. He comments that he has rarely seen her, though he has heard of her visiting others. He asks why she doesn’t visit him. She says she thought he would be to busy.
Arthur remarks on how much she has changed. She constantly trembles and seems downcast. She bursts into tears. He reminds her how she promised to trust him. She is embarrassed by how her brother acted.
She asks if he is well. He tells her he has been troubled, but it is now in the past. He needs to learn how to command his emotions from Little Dorrit. However, he realizes Little Dorrit can see things other people can’t see within his heart.
He tells her he loved someone. Little Dorrit asks if it was Flora. He says no. He decided he was too old to fall in love. He doesn’t believe he ever will have that type of happiness. This pains Little Dorrit, who loves him. He doesn’t realize it. He tells her that what prevents him from realizing a marriage makes him a better friend and adviser to her.
He asks again why she hasn’t come to see him. Little Dorrit says she is better at the Marshalsea. He asks if she has any secrets. She denies this. Maggy suggests Little Dorrit tell the princess’s secret. Little Dorrit looks embarrassed and tells him it is only a fairy tale she told Maggy—one she doesn’t even remember.
Arthur asks her if he can provide her with another place. In the future, she may have an interest in someone. Little Dorrit shakes her head.
He asks her to trust him, which she claims she does. However, she denies having any secrets—though she grows paler.
Mr. Pancks comes up. He is drunk, having been drinking with the prisoners. Little Dorrit is rather frightened of him. He tells Little Dorrit it is okay to speak in front of Mr. Clennam, for he is involved.
Mr. Pancks has been generous with the prisoners, having come into some property. He asks to speak to Arthur after blessing Little Dorrit.
He introduces Arthur to Mr. Rugg. They have found some papers. They identify the man in them as the Father of the Marshalsea. They ask Arthur to wait until they give him permission before he tells Amy Dorrit. They expect the matter to be settled within the week.