Plornish tells Little Dorrit that she's got a new gig at Flora's place. Little Dorrit is psyched, because a little extra coin is always welcome around the Dorrit household of denial.
At the Casby's, Flora is super-duper nice. She makes Little Dorrit eat some food, which immediately marks her as some kind of saint in this novel of horrible, horrible people.
But being Flora, she also starts in on the whole doomed-love nonsense between herself and Arthur. Flora tells the whole story of their early love affair, but also kind of makes it sound like now that Mr. F is dead and Flora is newly available, Arthur is going to beat down her door any minute.
Little Dorrit listens, doesn't realize that it's all nonsense, and starts to feel sick. But she is nothing if not iron-willed, so she gets it together and starts sewing her handkerchiefs.
After a couple of hours, Pancks shows up and starts acting all mysterious and bizarre around Little Dorrit.
He tells her that he is a fortune-teller and asks to read her palm.
On her palm, he sees all the members of her family, and then himself, doing something. He won't say what.
Little Dorrit is obviously weirded out by all of this, but Pancks seems like a nice guy. He tells her not to pay any special attention to him and that at some point he will reveal the rest of her fortune to her.
Um, OK. Then he starts popping up everywhere in Little Dorrit's life – at the Clennams' house, at the Casbys' obviously, and even in the Marshalsea.
Some time later, Arthur comes to the Marshalsea and sends Maggie to get Little Dorrit. But Little Dorrit is crying in her room and doesn't come down.
Instead, she tells Maggie a story.
Once upon a time, there was a king who had everything. He had a daughter who was perfect and beautiful. Meanwhile, near the palace lived a tiny young woman who kept a secret shadow hidden in her hut. One day she showed the shadow to the princess, then told the princess that she would keep it hidden forever until her death, at which point it would disappear. And so it happened. The end.
Boy, they sure don't make fairy tales like they used to! But Maggie seems into it.
Oh, and, guess what, folks? The fairy tale is symbolic! Yes, it may surprise you to learn that it actually is meant to mean something. It's a little ambiguous, but Shmoop is guessing that the king is Casby, the princess is Flora, the young tiny woman is Little Dorrit, and the shadow is... um... some feelings. We'll try to avoid spoilers.