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Summary Chapter 31

Though he has made all the necessary preparations for receiving his guests in his apartment, Bob Sawyer shares his unease about his landlady Mrs. Raddle with Ben Allen. Bob hadn’t yet paid his rent, and he’s worried that Mrs. Raddle will create a scene today of all days (when he will entertain guests). Sure enough, preceded by Betsy’s—the handmaiden’s—announcement, Mrs. Raddle confronts Bob Sawyer about his late rent. She makes a point of raising her voice so that her husband Mr. Raddle might hear and do something about it. Mr. Raddle doesn’t respond, however, compelling Mrs. Raddle to retire to her rooms though not before taking out her frustrations on umbrellas, which are stored in the back parlor.

Presently, the Pickwickians are let in by Betsy and pointed in the direction of Bob Sawyer’s rooms. As the Pickwickians exchange greetings with Bob Sawyer and Ben Allen, Jack Hopkins, one of Bob Sawyer and Ben Allen’s medical student friends, arrives. Jack is full of stories about the fantastic incidents the medical student is privy to in his hospital rounds. Indeed, the most fantastic of those incidents involves a boy who is hospitalized because he has swallowed his sister’s bead necklace. Mr. Pickwick expresses his amazement when the rest of Bob’s guests arrive in succession.

The party starts off with hot punch and a card game and then it transitions into dinner. Though the meat courses prove to be unappetizing, the cheese, which is especially good, makes up for the deficiency.

The party is progressing nicely as Betsy provides newly washed glasses when, to Bob Sawyer’s chagrin, Betsy announces that there is no hot water for the brandy and water. She explains that Mrs. Raddle had put out the kitchen fire before going to bed for the express purpose of denying the party hot water. Upset, Bob announces his intention of settling his affairs with the Raddles tomorrow and moving out at once. Consequently, the party’s mood deteriorates despite Mr. Pickwick’s assurances that cold water will do just as nicely for the brandy and water.

Presently, by dint of good cheer, the party’s mood improves, and Jack Hopkins caps off the good mood by belting out a rendition of “The King, God bless him.” Alas, the song stirs Mrs. Raddle out of bed and brings her face-to-face with Bob Sawyer and his friends. She is incensed by the noise the revelers are making at two in the morning. She demands that Bob dismiss his guests at once. Despite his friends’ protests, Bob Sawyer obliges his landlady.

As he accompanies the Pickwickians to London Bridge, Ben Allen, who is distressed on behalf of his friend Bob Sawyer, confides in Mr. Winkle, tearfully informing the Pickwickian that there isn’t a man alive he would recommend as his sister’s beau than Bob Sawyer.

Charles Dickens