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Summary Chapter 35

Having determined to stay in Bath for two months, the Pickwickians consider moving into the Royal Crescent but for the private lodging’s size which accommodates more guests than the Pickwickians can provide. However, when the Dowlers offer to move in with the Pickwickians, the deal is clinched.

Typically, Mr. Pickwick spends his time systematically drinking the waters of Bath; i.e. before breakfast and after breakfast, which are alternated with brisk walks. Thus, after a day of drinking and walking, Mr. Pickwick is sits up at night and makes a journal entry when Mrs. Craddock, the landlady, informs Mr. Pickwick that if Mr. Pickwick isn’t in need of any further services that she will turn in for the night. Mr. Pickwick has no objections. Presently, having finished his journal entry, Mr. Pickwick reads it by candlelight.

The entry, entitled “The True Legend of Prince Bladud,” concerns the origins of Bath and its salubrious waters. There is the apocryphal version in which Prince Bladud, having contracted leprosy while studying in Athens, only associates with farmers and pigs upon his return to Britain. Among the pigs, there is a particular one whose coat is sleek and whose complexion is clear, which Prince Bladud pays special attention to. Indeed, like the pig, the Prince takes a mud bath at the same location where the pig is wont to take mud baths when a miracle occurs: the Prince is cured of his leprosy. Thus the waters of Bath are established. Alas, the Prince dies when in search of the pig, he takes a mud bath where the water’s temperature is too high.

In the true story, however, Prince Bladud returns from Athens, where he has fallen in love with a noble Athenian’s daughter, only to be put in the awkward position of having to marry the princess of one of Britain’s neighboring kingdoms, which the king himself had made the arrangement. When the Prince confides in his father about his love for the noble Athenian’s daughter, the King imprisons his son.

A year later, the Prince manages to escape from prison when he arrives at a remote village which is in the midst of a great festivity. The Prince asks a villager about the nature of the festivity and is told that it revolves around King Lud’s conviction that his son will now marry according to the King’s wish what with Prince Bladud’s beloved, the daughter of the noble Athenian, having married a fellow Athenian.

Consequently, Prince Bladud weeps and prays to the gods to have his life terminated this very instant. The gods oblige and Prince Bladud is swallowed up by the earth. Subsequently, it is said that the salubrious waters of Bath are the result of Prince Bladud’s tears.

Satisfied with the entry, Mr. Pickwick bids Mr. Dowler goodnight and retires for the night. Meanwhile, in vain, Mr. Dowler tries to stay up for his wife who hasn’t yet returned from a party she has attended.

At three in the morning, a sedan conveying Mrs. Dowler arrives at the Royal Crescent. Alas, because the bell is inoperative, no one answers the door despite the continuous knocking of the servants in Mrs. Dowler’s service. By and by, Mr. Winkle awakes and answers the door. His candlelight is snuffed out by the wind, and Mr. Winkle steps outside to get a better look only to have the doors shut behind him. At this point, on account of Mrs. Dowlers’ servants continuous knocking, there is a contingent of ladies approaching the Royal Crescent to see what the fuss is all about. Horrified at the thought of being seen in his undergarments, Mr. Winkle looks for cover and decides to hide himself in the sedan.

Just as Mr. Winkle dives into the sedan, Mrs. Craddock, who has awoken and is observing the unfolding event from her window, screams, wakes Mr. Dowler, and warns him that his wife is about to elope with Mr. Winkle. Furious, Mr. Dowler grabs a knife and pursues Mr. Winkle who has already dove out of the sedan and is now running around the house. Eventually, Mr. Winkle runs into the house and barricades himself in his room. Mr. Dowler promises Mr. Winkle retribution.

Charles Dickens