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Summary Chapter 37

His inner state being in turmoil on account of Mr. Dowler’s threat of physical violence, Mr. Winkle, who has arrived in Bristol and who has found lodgings at The Bush, seeks counsel from a Bristol establishment which announces itself as a medical establishment. Initially, there’s no one at the counter, but by and by a studious-looking young man in green spectacles emerges from the back parlor. The young man recognizes Mr. Winkle, but Mr. Winkle can’t fathom who the young man is, when the young man identifies himself as Bob Sawyer.

Presently, Bob Sawyer leads Mr. Winkle to the back parlor where there is someone else with whom Mr. Winkle is on friendly terms: Ben Allen. Thus, Mr. Winkle renews his acquaintance with the medical students when a boy, Bob’s shop assistant, enters the shop. By and by, Mr. Winkle learns that Bob Sawyer’s business is barely floating financially, but that with the boy’s help he is in the process of advertising his name to the folks of Bristol by an ingenious scheme: The boy delivers packets of random medicine, which are clearly labeled with Bob Sawyer’s name and establishment, to randomly chosen clients only to have the medicines reclaimed the next day, citing clerical error.

When Bob Sawyer attends to a customer at the counter, Ben Allen confides in Mr. Winkle. Ben Allen is in wretched state on account of his sister Arabella who has resolved to oppose her brother’s plan to have her made a match with Bob Sawyer. According to Ben Allen, his sister’s decision has been actuated by her affection for another gentleman though who that gentleman is Ben Allen doesn’t know. Ben Allen also tells Mr. Winkle that Arabella is currently staying with an aunt, but before Mr. Winkle could find out just exactly where the aunt’s location is, Bob Sawyer’s return compels the two to remain silent on the topic heretofore.

Consequently, upon parting with his friends, Mr. Winkle goes to the coffee-room of The Bush, as he is not as intoxicated and as happy as he would be were Arabella not uppermost in his mind. Alas, at the coffee-room, Mr. Winkle runs into, of all people, Mr. Dowler. Mr. Winkle’s first reaction is to call for help, but as Mr. Dowler explains his presence there, it dawns on Mr. Winkle that Mr. Dowler, despite his gruff and harsh exterior, is at heart a coward. Upon being told the truth of the situation by Mrs. Dowler (there was nothing going on between her and Mr. Winkle), Mr. Dowler has fled the Royal Crescent to avoid Mr. Winkle. Mr. Dowler believes that Mr. Winkle has followed him to Bristol to insist on engaging Mr. Dowler in a duel of honor. Thus, Mr. Dowler begs Mr. Winkle for forgiveness. Mr. Winkle grants Mr. Dowler his forgiveness, and the two are reconciled.

Mr. Winkle is about to go to sleep when there’s a heavy and a persistent knocking at his door. It is Sam Welller. Mr. Winkle admits Sam, but when Sam locks the door behind him and lets Mr. Winkle know that Sam will not let Mr. Winkle out of his sight until Mr. Winkle is has safely rejoined the Pickwickians, Mr. Winkle demands that Sam unlock the door and leave the room. Eventually, they settle on a compromise. Sam will leave the room for the night, but have it locked from without, assuring Mr. Winkle that he will immediately unlock the door in case of fire. And Mr. Winkle will make no attempt to flee from Sam. As for rejoining the Pickwickians, they will talk about it in the morning.

Charles Dickens