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Summary Chapter 8

While Mr. Wardle and the Pickwickians are away at Muggleton, the residents of Manor Farm while away the day in leisure. Of particular note are Mr. Tupman and the spinster aunt as they flirt with one another to the extent of exchanging hugs and kisses. Alas, when it appears that fat boy Joe, who has come to summon them to dinner, has been witness to their goings-on, Mr. Tupman interrogates Joe who avows that he has seen nothing. Satisfied that Joe has seen nothing (they assume he had been asleep), Mr. Tupman and the spinster aunt go to dinner in relaxed states of mind.

Dinner passes pleasantly enough at Manor Farm, but as the hour passes midnight and as Mr. Wardle and the Pickwickians have yet to return from Muggleton, there is anxiety in the air when the residents of Manor Farm recognize a familiar voice. They repair to the kitchen, and there they find Mr. Wardle and the Pickwickians in various states of dissipation. With them is a stranger—Mr. Jingle who alone seems to have his wits about him. By and by, led by fat boy Joe, the attendants of Manor Farm help Mr. Wardle and the Pickwickians to their respective rooms and the day concludes.

The next day, at breakfast, Mr. Jingle proves to be the life of the party to the extent that the old lady, Mr. Wardle’s mother who is hard of hearing, has Mr. Jingle repeat his delightful anecdotes. Presently, as the old lady is resting in the arbor as is her wont every morning after breakfast, fat boy Joe confides in her about the scandalous behavior of Mr. Tupman and Rachael Wardle, the spinster aunt. (As it turns out, fat boy Joe had witnessed Mr. Tupman’s and the spinster aunt’s romantic goings-on and had only pretended that he hadn’t.)

Alas, unbeknownst to the old lady and fat boy Joe, Mr. Jingle, who has eavesdropped on them, uses the intelligence gained to advance his agenda. Directly, Mr. Jingle engages the spinster aunt, telling her all about the trouble she is bound to be in once word gets around of her goings-on with Mr. Tupman. He assures her, however, that there is a way out. She is to deny that she ever had any romance with Mr. Tupman and to avow that fat boy Joe must have dreamt what he claimed to have seen. The spinster aunt is satisfied with this course of action when Mr. Jingle tells her something about Mr. Tupman she never suspected: Mr. Tupman is actually in love with her niece Emily Wardle and Mr. Tupman's interest in the spinster aunt has everything to do with money; namely, the spinster aunt’s private fortune. (Actually, it is Mr. Jingle who is solely interested in the spinster aunt’s private fortune.)

Presently, at dinner, Mr. Jingle’s intelligence proves to be true as Mr. Tupman solicits Emily Wardle’s affections while utterly ignoring the spinster aunt.

As it’s pointed out by the author, prior to dinner, Mr. Jingle had confided Mr. Tupman, telling the latter that his romantic goings-on with the spinster aunt had been found out. Mr. Jingle then had advised Mr. Tupman that he ought to actively engage Emily Wardle at dinner and thereby erase all suspicions of his attachment to the spinster aunt. As to the spinster aunt’s feelings, Mr. Jingle assured Mr. Tupman that he would make her understand by explaining that Mr. Tupman’s solicitation of Emily was a ruse to stymy the suspicion that Mr. Tupman and the spinster aunt are carrying on a romance.

Charles Dickens