Ah, the Gowans. What a sad, sad mess of a marriage. Turns out that pretty much everywhere they go, the story is that he married way down and she married way up, and wasn't it so super-duper romantic and decent of him to convince his family to accept her? (Which, obviously, was so not the case.)
After being yelled at by Uncle Frederick, Fanny has been nice to Amy. The two go to visit Mrs. Gowan.
Fanny is of course super-patronizing, and Amy is very nice. Then they all go visit Gowan in his studio.
He's painting from life – Blandois is modeling.
Gowan says the painting is supposed to be a murderer – with blood still on his hands! Or whatever. Blandois kind of freaks out at this but manages to keep it together.
Suddenly, Gowan's huge dog Lion almost attacks Blandois.
Blandois runs into another room to escape as Gowan is just barely restraining Lion. Gowan starts to beat and kick the dog until it's bleeding from the mouth. Then he kicks it some more, until Amy begs him to stop.
Dudes. Shmoop is going to go out on a limb here and say that a tendency to beat animals viciously is probably something to be avoided in a life partner. Too bad it's too late for Pet.
Fanny and Amy leave in a gondola. Suddenly Amy notices that Fanny is striking poses left and right and realizes that there is a gondola following them. In it is Edmund Sparkler.
Amy asks Fanny to explain, and Fanny basically tells her that her plan is this: Since Mrs. Merdle is clearly going to pretend that she's never met them, and since Sparkler is clearly nuts about her, most likely Mrs. Merdle thinks Fanny would be an OK match for Sparkler – as long as everything is hushed up about prison. Fanny is going to lead Sparkler and his mom on about the potential marriage.
Amy is all, and then what?
Fanny says she's doesn't know yet.
Sparkler helps Fanny off the gondola and leads her up the stairs to her house.
There, he makes nice with Dorrit, who invites him to stay for dinner and to go to the opera afterwards.
(Brain snack time: the opera back then was like a combination rock concert, sports event, and drive-in movie in terms of acceptable behavior. People would meet and hang out together, talk, and kind of half-watch whatever was going on.)
At the opera Fanny flirts with Sparkler, then ignores him. She basically wraps him around her little finger.
Afterward they run into Blandois, who tells them that... someone has fatally poisoned Gowan's dog Lion!