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Summary Chapter 34

The Pickwickians have chosen Bath as their next destination. Mr. Perker agrees that that’s a good idea as the gaiety and amusement that they are likely to find there might persuade Mr. Pickwick to reconsider his resolve to go to debtor’s prison rather than honor the damages the court has legally bound him to pay. Subsequently, Mr. Pickwick commissions Sam to book five seats for the journey to Bath.

Alas, it turns out, that in terms of riding inside the post-chaise, there are only two seats available. The three other passengers must make do by riding outside the post-chaise.

As the Pickwickians wait for their post-chaise in the White Collar Cellar’s traveler’s room, they make the acquaintance of Mr. Dowler, a former army man who is now in business and who is also headed for Bath, with his pretty wife Mrs. Dowler. Taking note of the number of the Pickwicians who are to travel with him to Bath, Mr. Dowler declaims the possibility of being squeezed into the post-chaise, which will only comfortably accommodate four passengers. He threatens to sue the company operating the post-chaise for the inconvenience only to be assured by Mr. Pickwick that only two of the Pickwickians will be taking their seats inside the post-chaise. Thus, with Messrs. Pickwick and Winkle and Mr. and Mrs. Dowler riding inside the post-chaise and Sam and Messrs. Tupman and Snodgrass riding outside the post-chaise, the travelers arrive in Bath where they all put up at the White Hart hotel.

The next morning at breakfast, Mr. Dowler introduces a friend of his, Angelo Cyrus Bantam, Esquire, MC, to the Pickwickians. Bantam, a fifty year old man whose dress and manners are excessively elaborate, invites the Pickwickians to a ball. As for the tickets of admission to the evening’s ball, as they are not ready yet, Mr. Pickwick offers to have his servant Sam pick them up at Bantam’s residence at four in the afternoon. Bantam objects but agrees on account of Mr. Pickwick’s insistence. Thus, at the appointed hour, Sam appears at Bantam’s residence. He is met by a haughty, powdered-headed footman who is Bantam’s servant. At first, the powder-headed footman objects to Sam’s free and easy ways, but by and by Sam wins him over and they part in good terms.

At the ball, the Pickwickians and the Dowlers are met by Bantam who is the Master of Ceremonies. Through Bantam, Mr. Pickwick makes the acquaintance of various supercilious people including Lord Mutanhed, the wealthiest man in Bath who speaks with a lisp and who does his best to put Mr. Pickwick in his place with a proud stare, and the Honorable Mr. Cushton, who is wont to fawn on Lord Mutanhed. To Mr. Pickwick’s chagrin, through Bantam, he also makes the acquaintance of the Dowager Lady Snuphanuph, Mrs. Wugsby, and Miss Bolo, who contrive to have Mr. Pickwick join them at a card game. Indeed, the card game proves to be so unpleasant, what with the ladies’ overbearing scrutiny and criticism of Mr. Pickwick's play, that when Mr. Pickwick retires for the night, he falls instantly asleep.

Charles Dickens