Moral infections are just as contagious and damaging as physical ones.
Merging with the Barnacles causes the Merdle name to spread. Nobody knows his business, but he is considered to be a great man.
Mrs. Plornish now runs a grocery store. Maggy and Mr. Nandy are her assistants. Mr. Plornish owns a share in a builder’s business, and he often hears the Merdle name. Some in the Bleeding Heart Yard are saving to invest in Mr. Merdle’s ventures, dreaming of becoming rich. The women admire Mrs. Merdle. Mr. Merdle is considered to be a man of virtue.
Mr. Pancks doesn’t find it any easier to collect rent. Everyone wishes Mr. Merdle was their landlord, for he wouldn’t worry about due rent.
Mr. Pancks often visits the Plornish family. They remind him of Little Dorrit and brighten his day. Mrs. Plornish tells him one day that her store would do very well if people wouldn’t run up tabs that they didn’t pay.
Mr. Nandy comes in, saying something has frightened Mr. Baptist. Mr. Baptist tells them he saw a bad man and is hoping the bad man didn’t see him.
Mr. Clennam enters later. He tells them he has had a letter from Amy Dorrit. Everyone looks forward to hearing what she has written.
Mr. Pancks walks home with a very weary Arthur. He and Pancks have become good friends.
Pancks tells him that Mr. Baptist has become frightened and asks Arthur if he knows why. Arthur says no. Pancks suggests that Arthur question him, but Arthur worries that his questions might sound like accusations.
Arthur finds it interesting that even the humblest of people want to invest in Merdle enterprises. Mr. Pancks doesn’t believe the people understand the subject. However, he claims that Merdle is a good investment, and he doesn’t realize he is spreading a poison. He has invested in it himself.
Arthur confides his misgivings about his mother’s dealings. Pancks encourages him to invest in Merdle enterprises, for Mr. Doyce’s and Mrs. Clennam’s sake (so Arthur can take care of his mother). Arthur worries about losses, but Pancks claims they are safe investments.