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Summary Chapter 39

The next morning, it has stopped snowing, but the ground is blanketed with white. Some early risers have already began their journey, but men prepare for the others to depart.

The Dorrits are having breakfast. Tip makes a snide remark about how Gowan’s name is fit for a puppy, but he is too beneath him to be bothered. He asks Amy if the wife is better. Amy says yes, but they are not going to leave until tomorrow. Tip comments it is best, or he would have fought with Gowan.

Tip then asks Amy if she has been nursing the woman like a commoner. Little Dorrit says she merely checked in on her. Tip reminds her to stop calling him by his nickname.

Fanny says Amy’s interest in Mrs. Gowan is because she knew her before yesterday. She is a friend of Arthur Clennam. Mr. Dorrit asks Amy if this is true, which she confirms.

Fanny complains to her father how Amy constantly reminds them of things they want to forget by her actions. Tip tells Amy he thinks it is shameful that she supports a man who has insulted her family. Fanny complains their servants will never respect them if Amy insists on acting like one herself.

As for Arthur Clennam, he intruded into their lives—Fanny says as she continues her tirade—and he humiliated them by exposing them, and now they are demeaned by his friends. No wonder Mr. Gowan was gloating at them.

Amy says the Gowans are ignorant of their past. Fanny then replies that Amy had no excuse to be so familiar with them. Little Dorrit says she never offends her family intentionally. Fanny tells her she needs to think about how her actions will harm them. Mr. Dorrit tell Amy that servants need to be kept in their place, and so she must remember to keep them at a distance. They are also not to have anything more to do with Mr. Clennam.

Mrs. General’s entrance puts a stop to the conversation.

They get ready to leave. Mr. Blandois greets them. Any is still leery of him but doesn’t show it, for her family feels differently. She feels his eyes on them as they go down the mountain.

Mr. Dorrit’s brother meekly follows along. He shows some interest in his surroundings. He shows more respect to Amy and wishes others to do the same.

Innkeepers dote on the family.

When they arrive at one inn, the innkeeper tells them that one of their rooms are occupied—but that the guests will leave soon. Mr. Dorrit is offended. He refuses to stay at the inn.

One of the guests who were occupying the room come out to smooth things over. He tells Tip that his mother’s will was too strong for the innkeeper. The lady tells Mr. Dorrit she wouldn’t have dined in his room if she had known he was coming so early.

Fanny restrains Little Dorrit, for she recognizes Mrs. Merdle. The quarrel is resolved. Mrs. Merdle pretends she doesn’t recognize the Dorrit sisters, but Mr. Sparkler gawks at Fanny. His mother pulls him along. Fanny feels triumphant.

Amy remembers her room at the Marshalsea. Her present circumstances seem like a dream. It is wonderful, but she is at a loss without work to do and no one to take care of. She feels a distance between her and her father. He won’t allow her to care for him anymore now that he has servants. She doesn’t know what to do with her own maid.

She frequently gives money to the beggars, who are the only people who seem real to her. She refuses to participate in her family’s new life when they reach Venice. She spends more time alone. The only time she can escape her oppressive maid is when she takes a gondola ride. People are fascinated by her.

Her balcony is her favorite place. People notice the solitary girl there too. Amy often thinks about the Marshalsea and her old life.

Charles Dickens