Merdle's suicide note reveals that he was a swindler, robbing his investors and leaving thousands ruined. Mrs. Merdle agrees to Fanny's suggestion they do a 'moonlight flit' to escape creditors but Arthur submits to imprisonment in the Marshalsea, where the Plornishes bring food and optimism and John Chivery makes him realize Amy has always loved him. He succumbs to a fever and wakes up to find Amy has come to the Marshalsea to nurse him back to health. She tells him she loves him but he replies that, now he is ruined, he would only drag her down. Rigaud returns to taunt Mrs. Clennam, revealing what he knows from the stolen documents. Her hard heart drove her husband into an affair with another woman who bore a son, Arthur, whom she snatched and brought up lovelessly. The woman died and Mr. Clennam's father, seeking to help someone else who was disadvantaged, bequeathed money to Amy. Rigaud wants £2,000 to keep silent but instead she gets up and hobbles to the prison to confess to Amy...
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[Mrs Merdle has returned from Venice after hearing the news about Mr Merdle's suicide
So, we are ruined. Everything lost.
[with barely suppressed glee
Well, ma'am, I believe *you* are ruined. We are not quite. Sparkler still has his job, and I have my own money. And if the worst comes to the worst, I could always go back to the theatre. And, who knows, perhaps you could go back to doing whatever it is that *you* did before Mr Sparkler and Mr Merdle. But I don't think we've come to that just yet...