A hackney coach is on its way to Mrs. Bardell’s house. Within the coach are Mr. and Mrs. Raddle and Mrs. Cluppins. The two ladies, who are sisters, scold the gentleman who believes Mrs. Bardell’s house has a yellow door. The ladies contend Mrs. Bardell’s house has a green door.
The ladies prevail as the hackney driver pulls up to the house with the green door when the head of Tommy Bardell is espied looking out of a house with a red door. The hackney driver pulls up to the house with the red door. There Mrs. Cluppins engages Tommy and learns that Mrs. Sanders and Mrs. Bardell’s current lodger Mrs. Rogers will join them for a picnic. As to the contents of the cupboard (which will be the substance of the picnic’s provisions), to Mrs. Cluppins’ chagrin, Tommy refuses to say in accordance with his mother’s directive.
By and by, the recent arrivals exchange greetings with Mrs. Bardell and her already arrived guests. It isn’t long before the ladies gang up and take Mr. Raddle to task for giving her wife a hard time. Indeed, they temporarily banish him to the backyard on account of his words which cause Mrs. Raddle to hyperventilate and faint.
When Mr. Raddle is reinstated, Mrs. Bardell orders a servant “to put the wine on,” revealing the contents of the cupboard. The contents include oranges, biscuits, and “the celebrated East India sherry.” Subsequently, the party makes their way, by foot, to the Spaniard Tea-gardens, their picnic grounds.
When they arrive at their picnic grounds, Mrs. Bardell’s new lodger Mrs. Rogers praises the countryside at the expense of the city only to be contradicted by Mrs. Bardell, Mrs. Cluppins, and Mr. Raddle, whose argument is that there is nothing like the city for socializing. Indeed, Mr. Raddle goes so far as to say that the countryside is only good for broken-hearted people, people who have no one to love, causing Mrs. Bardell to lose countenance and weep. Consequently, Mrs. Raddle berates her husband for always saying the wrong thing at the wrong time which in turn causes Mrs. Cluppins to adjure Mrs. Raddle to calm down lest she hyperventilate and lose consciousness again.
Mrs. Bardell regains her composure by hugging her son when the arrival of a hackney-coach announces the presence of Mr. Jackson form Dodson & Fogg. Mrs. Bardell asks if Mr. Jackson has come to apprise her of a new development in the case vis-à-vis Mr. Pickwick. Mr. Jackson says no, but he tells Mrs. Bardell that her immediate presence is required to settle an important matter, and that she must go with Mr. Jackson at once. Mrs. Bardell’s friends advise her to do as Mr. Jackson says. Mrs. Bardell obliges Mr. Jackson, but not before having Mr. Jackson and a man with an ash stick, who is Mr. Jackson’s aid, partake of some wine.
Mrs. Cluppins, Mrs. Sanders, and Tommy accompany Mrs. Bardell as she goes with Mr. Jackson to their mystery destination. In transit, while Mrs. Cluppins and Mrs. Sanders are asleep, Mr. Jackson reminds Mrs. Bardell of the lawyer’s fees which she has failed to pay. Mrs. Bardell replies that lawyers must make allowances for lost fees from to time to time. Mrs. Bardell falls asleep.
By and by, the hackney coach arrives at its destination, which has a large wall and a gate. The awakened passengers are led by Mr. Jackson, down a flight of steps at the end of which Mr. Jackson bids his fellow passengers goodnight. The ladies and Tommy cry in anguish; Mrs. Bardell loses consciousness. Presently, Sam Weller attends to Mrs. Bardell while Mr. Pickwick looks on indignantly. Mrs. Bardell has been incarcerated in Fleet Prison for failing to pay her lawyers’ fees owed Dodson & Fogg.
Sam Weller commissions Job Trotter to fetch Mr. Pickwick’s attorney Mr. Perker.