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Summary Chapter 46

By the time Job Trotter fulfills Sam Weller’s commission and finds Mr. Pickwick’s lawyer Mr. Perker, through Mr. Perker’s assistant Mr. Lowten, the gates of Fleet Prison have closed for the night. Despite Mr. Lowten’s concern, Job Trotter assures the law clerk that he’ll manage and he does, spending his night in a vegetable basket at Covent Garden Market.

The next day, Mr. Perker visits Mr. Pickwick the first thing in the morning. Having ascertained that Mr. Pickwick is aware of Mrs. Bardell’s imprisonment, courtesy of Dodson and Fogg, Mr. Perker apprises Mr. Pickwick of his advantageous position. If Mr. Pickwick would consent to pay Mrs. Bardell’s debt, which is a trifle sum to Mr. Pickwick, she will not only drop her charge against Mr. Pickwick but formally admit that the charge was initially cooked up by Dodson and Fogg for the express purpose of extorting money from Mr. Pickwick. Though Mr. Perker admits that Dodson and Fogg are too clever to allow the charge to stick, he urges Mr. Pickwick to take Mrs. Bardell’s offer as Mr. Pickwick has everything to gain by securing his freedom.

At Mr. Perker’s behest, Mr. Pickwick mulls over the matter only to be interrupted by Sam who has with him guests who are anxious to meet Mr. Pickwick. At Sam’s insistence, Mr. Pickwick admits his new guests who turn out to be Mr. Winkle and his new bride Mrs. Winkle, formerly Miss Arabella Allen. Apparently, Mr. Winkle had managed to secure Arabella’s freedom from her aunt’s house with Mary’s help, the successful operation of which led to their getting married in secret.

Astonished, Mr. Pickwick welcomes Arabella and congratulates Mr. Winkle with a slap on his back. Mr. Perker follows suit and congratulates Mr. Winkle with a poke in the chest. Presently, Arabella pleads Mr. Pickwick to act as liaison between her and her brother Ben Allen who will otherwise banish her from his heart. Mr. Perker takes the opportunity to reinforce his argument that it’s in Mr. Pickwick’s best interest to take Mrs. Bardell’s offer. For by doing so, not only can Mr. Pickwick reconcile Arabella to her brother, but Mr. Pickwick can reconcile Mr. Winkle to Mr. Winkle, senior, who would otherwise disown his son for his rash behavior.

Presently, Mr. Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass arrive on the scene, and they too urge Mr. Pickwick to do as Mr. Perker advises. At this point, the argument to do as Mr. Perker advises is so overwhelming that Mr. Pickwick decides to pay Mrs. Bardell’s debt and thereby secure his—Mr. Pickwick’s—freedom.

Subsequently, Sam, who has been hobnobbing with Mary who has come with Mr. and Mrs. Winkle, commissions Job Trotter to go to Mr. Pell to secure his—Sam’s—release and then treats everyone in the prison to mild porter (beer). At three in the afternoon, Mr. Pickwick, having advised Alfred Jingle to mind Mr. Perker, acknowledges the heartfelt good wishes of every Fleet Prison inmate as he makes his exit from the debtor’s prison. Ironically, on account of all the sad people he’s leaving behind, Mr. Pickwick leaves the prison with a heavier heart than the one with which he came to prison.

Charles Dickens