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Summary Chapter 18

For two days after the masked ball party at Mrs. Leo Hunter’s, the Pickwickians—Mr. Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass from the Peacock and Mr. Winkle from the Pott’s residence—await some word from Mr. Pickwick, who’s still at Angel at Bury.

Presently, Mr. Winkle relaxes in the Pott’s sitting room when in walks Mr. Pott in a state of great agitation. For some reason, Mr. Pott is upset with Mr. Winkle to the point of calling him a “serpent.” When asked for an explanation, Mr. Pott produces the Eatanswill Independent, the Buff-biased newspaper, wherein there’s an editorial insinuating that Mr. Winkle has been making romantic overtures to Mrs. Pott.

Just as Mr. Winkle is about to connect the dots himself, Mrs. Pott walks in. Her puzzlement at her husband’s indignation is answered with her husband showing her the Eatanswill Independent editorial. Alas, the editorial so shocks Mrs. Potts that she starts shrieking at the top of her lungs. Mr. Pott and Mr. Winkle try to settle her down to no avail.

Presently, Goodwin, Mrs. Pott’s handmaiden and bodyguard of sorts attends to Mrs. Pott and joins Mrs. Pott in blaming Mr. Pott for allowing such libel to go unanswered. Distraught at his wife’s hysteria, Mr. Pott tries to console her to no avail. Only Goodwin can console Mrs. Pott, and she does at which point they all go to have breakfast.

At breakfast, Mrs. Pott expresses her hope that the libelous editorial hasn’t upset Mr. Winkle so that he contemplates leaving any time soon only to be told that, having received a letter just this morning from Mr. Pickwick requesting Mr. Winkle’s presence at Angel at Bury, he would have to leave at noon. Thus when noon approached, Mr. Winkle, promising that he will return, says his goodbyes to the Potts. (Inwardly, Mr. Winkle resolves not to have any further interactions with the Potts, while Mr. Pott inwardly resolves to poison Mr. Winkle should he return.)

Reunited with Mr. Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass at the Peacock, Mr. Winkle and his fellow Pickwickians set off for Angel at Bury. When they arrive, not only are they met by Mr. Pickwick but by Mr. Wardle and Mr. Trundle as well. Mr. Tupman is embarrassed to meet with Mr. Wardle again. The embarrassment turns to distress at the news that Mr. Trundle has been formally engaged to be married. To his relief, Mr. Tupman is informed that Mr. Trundle is engaged to be married to Emily Wardle not Rachael Wardle. Though this is bad news to Mr. Snodgrass (who is fond of Emily Wardle), he puts on a brave face.

Presently, the assembled party sits down to have a meal during which, to the horror of his fellow Pickwickians, Mr. Pickwick relates his adventures vis-à-vis Alfred Jingle. Subsequently, Mr. Winkle relates his involvement in the libelous editorial of Eatanswill Independent. Upon hearing Mr. Winkle’s story, Mr. Pickwick begins an angry speech about the propensity of the Pickwickians to create trouble vis-à-vis the female members of the households that they are honored to be the guests in when Sam Weller interrupts with a letter for Mr. Pickwick. Regaining his composure, Mr. Pickwick reads the letter only to be traumatized by the contents therein. It’s a summons to a court hearing, charging Mr. Pickwick of being in breach of his promise to marry his landlady Mrs. Bardell. In shock, Mr. Pickwick apologizes to his fellow Pickwickians for accusing them of creating trouble vis-à-vis female hosts when he himself is the principle offender.

The business with Mrs. Bardell is based on a colossal misunderstanding, and if Mr. Pickwick had his way, he would go at once to settle the matter. But, as he had promised to spend some time indulging in rest and relaxation with Mr. Wardle, Mr. Pickwick postpones visiting his lawyers in London. However, he does send Sam Weller ahead to book a couple of beds in London.

Charles Dickens