Having answered the door and beholding a fat boy, Mr. Lowten asks the fat boy why he was knocking so hard and continuously. The fat boy replies that he was ordered to do so by his master lest he—the fat boy—fall asleep. Having confirmed that the fat boy’s master is the gentleman waiting in the carriage, Mr. Lowten beckons the gentleman to enter.
The gentleman turns out to be Mr. Wardle. Greeting his friends, Mr. Wardle laments Mr. Pickwick’s incarceration in a debtor’s prison and wonders how Mr. Perker could ever have allowed such a thing to happen. Mr. Perker assures Mr. Wardle that it was unfortunate but unavoidable.
Presently, Mr. Wardle apprises his friends of the circumstance that have brought him to Mr. Perker’s law office. It was only recently that he had found out that his daughter Emily had been carrying on a secret romance with Mr. Pickwick’s associate Mr. Snodgrass, which had been going on since last Christmas. Alas, Mr. Wardle also learned that when Emily learned that her father would oppose the match, as it was premised on affection and not financial security, that Emily had resolved to elope with Mr. Snodgrass a la Arabella and Mr. Winkle. Agitated by this intelligence, Mr. Wardle has come to London to seek Mr. Perker’s advice. Indeed, he has brought Emily with him, in case she has any ideas of eloping, under the pretext of having her meet with Arabella.
Subsequently, arguing that Mr. Wardle has already made up his mind on how to handle the matter, Mr. Perker dismisses Mr. Wardle’s solicitation and assures him that he would have an answer for Mr. Wardle if the matter isn’t already settled the next time they meet.
Presently, as Mr. Wardle has some business to attend to, he dispatches fat boy Joe to the Osborne hotel where he is to inform Emily that her father won’t be back until later that evening. When fat boy Joe arrives at the Osborne, to his shock, he not only beholds Arabella and Arabella’s handmaiden Mary in Emily’s company but Mr. Snodgrass who is busy making romantic overtures to Emily. Consequently, Mr. Snodgrass, Emily, and Arabella commission Mary to persuade fat boy Joe to keep a lid on it; i.e. to keep Mr. Snodgrass’ visit a secret. Smitten with Mary, fat boy Joe promises to do just that.
Mr. Snodgrass is taking his leave of Emily when Mr. Wardle returns. He is accompanied by Mr. Pickwick, Ben Allen, and Mr. Winkle. Subsequently, Emily and Arabella go to greet the arrivals, while Mr. Snodgrass tries to sneak out through a back entrance only to corner himself into Mr. Wardle’s bedroom. At Mr. Wardle’s behest, wine is served. Ben Allen and Arabella reconcile. Mr. Wardle commissions fat boy Joe to fetch his snuff box from his bedroom. When fat boy Joe returns with the snuff box, he is as pale as a ghost. Mr. Wardle thinks fat boy Joe has had too much wine as his behavior all evening has been peculiar. Indeed, fat boy Joe is caught trying to impart a secret to Mr. Pickwick at which point Mr. Wardle decides to have the boy removed from the premises.
Suddenly, Mr. Snodgrass emerges from Mr. Wardle’s bedroom. Mr. Snodgrass explains that he is deeply in love with Emily and has been for six months, and that in order to prevent creating a scene tonight he had tried to slip away undetected only to have cornered himself into Mr. Wardle’s bedroom. Emily begs her father to understand. Mr. Wardle wonders why Mr. Snodgrass hadn’t confessed earlier. Mr. Pickwick wonders why Mr. Snodgrass hadn’t confided his secret. Arabella speaks on Mr. Snodgrass’ behalf, pointing out that Mr. Wardle had his mind set on a wealthier son-in-law, which would explain Mr. Snodgrass’ reluctance to confess. Mr. Wardle concedes to Arabellla who urges Mr. Wardle to invite Mr. Snodgrass to partake of food and wine. Presently, Mr. Perker arrives and partakes of the food and wine as well. Everyone is happy and all is well.