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Summary Chapter 17

On account of being soaked in the rain and being confined to a closet, Mr. Pickwick becomes afflicted with rheumatism for which he is confined to his bed for two days. On the third day, however, Mr. Pickwick invites Mr. Wardle and Mr. Trundle for a bout of wine drinking; they accept. Subsequently, as the three friends sit down to drink their wine, Mr. Pickwick relates a story called “The Parish Clerk—A Tale of True Love,” which Mr. Pickwick became acquainted with on his first day of convalescence through Sam Weller, and which Mr. Pickwick took the trouble of recording in his notebook in the second day of his convalescence.

The story revolves around Nathaniel Pipkin, a modest man of modest means, a parish clerk who earns his living by teaching little boys in a little church. Indeed, everything about him is so modest and little that on the day he had the fortune to meet the bishop, Nathaniel is so overcome by the bishop’s greatness that he—Nathaniel—faints.

Then one day Nathaniel Pipkin falls in love with Maria Lobbs, the daughter of the saddler old Lobbs. Though this isn’t the first time Nathaniel sees Maria, for whatever reason she seems prettier and more alluring than ever before.

Alas, Nathaniel Pipkin has to deal with old Lobbs, Maria Lobb's fierce tempered father who is rumored to have hoarded a great wealth and who undoubtedly demands his son-in-law to be some one of high standing. Nonetheless, inspired by Maria Lobb’s beauty, Nathaniel Pipkin steels himself and declares his love for Maria Lobbs. Consequently, at the suggestion of her mischievous cousin Kate, Maria Lobbs invites Nathaniel Pipkin to a party.

When Nathaniel Pipkin shows up at the party, he finds himself in the company of Maria’s cousin Kate and gaggle of giggling girls all of whom are Maria Lobb’s friends. Alas, there is also a male cousin present who monopolizes Maria Lobbs to the extent you would think that they were lovers.

Suddenly, there’s a knocking at the door: It’s old Lobbs returning unexpectedly and early from his evening engagement. He wants his supper, and he is in a bad mood. The girls hide themselves in Maria’s bedroom, while Nathaniel and the male cousin hide in a closet.

Waited upon by a bony apprentice, who is the butt of old Lobb’s verbal abuses, old Lobbs has his dinner and then demands his pipe. But the pipe is nowhere to be found. Old Lobbs checks the closet when lo and behold he finds himself face to face with Nathaniel Pipkin. Old Lobbs demands to know what Nathaniel is doing in his house. When Nathaniel confesses that he is in love with Maria Lobbs, old Lobbs raises his arm to strike Nathaniel only to be prevented from doing so by the male cousin. “Strike me instead,” the male cousin says, confessing that he too is in love with Maria. Inspired by her cousin’s nobility, Maria Lobbs cries and her tears in turn soften old Lobb’s heart to the extent he consents to his daughter marrying her male cousin (who is Kate’s brother).

Charles Dickens