What was behind Mr. Pancks on Little Dorrit's Hand
OK, ready for the grand reveal?
It turns out Pancks has discovered that Dorrit is actually... the heir to a huge unclaimed fortune! He can pay off his debts and get out of prison!
Arthur is totally floored and thanks Pancks over and over again. Yay! Little Dorrit can be free!
Pancks tells him how he figured it out. Apparently Pancks has a thing about names, and his hobby is genealogy. Or something. In any case, he stumbled on the unclaimed estate that rightfully belongs to Dorrit.
Doing all this research cost a ton of money. Some of it he's had to borrow from Casby, who is charging him an unheard-of 20 percent interest (almost as bad as MasterCard!). But still – the gamble paid off, since Pancks will obviously be paid back handsomely by Dorrit.
Arthur runs off to tell Little Dorrit, who almost passes out.
She can't imagine being rich herself, but then gets it together as soon as she starts imagining her father a rich man instead. So... we're guessing the whole self-sacrificing thing isn't really going to change with money.
They decide to tell Dorrit very carefully and slowly, so he doesn't keel over from the news.
He is obviously completely amazed that he's now a free man and about to get a ton of money.
The first thing he does is announce really seriously that every single person who has ever given him any money will be paid back, and then some. The second thing is to send messengers for Fanny and his brother Frederick so that they immediately stop working – which is the first time he's ever acknowledged that they do any such thing.
But just we're all kind of moved that he is immediately becoming generous and thoughtful, Dorrit becomes totally preoccupied with how he can get permission for all the prisoners to watch him leave the prison in a carriage, since "would be a Sight for them" (1.35.86). Aw, isn't that nice.
Finally, overwhelmed by all the excitement, Dorrit goes to sleep.
Little Dorrit tells Arthur that it seems kinds of unfair that he has to pay his debts both in money and in prison time.
Arthur is sort of charmed that she is so sweet and naïve.