Chapters 44-46 Summary
Pickwick is so touched by Sam’s willingness to be imprisoned so he can continue to serve his master that he does not protest. He does, however, want to know who Sam’s debtor is so he may pay him off. Sam says the person does not deserve to be paid off and refuses to tell. Sam finds a place to sleep in the room of a cobbler, who sleeps under the table that reminds him of his four-poster bed. Winkle, Snodgrass, and Tupman arrive. They are horrified by Pickwick’s surroundings. Winkle is upset that Sam has also made himself a prisoner; he had intended to have Sam run an errand but now he must go himself. Sam noticeably trembles at this news, but he will not divulge his secret to Pickwick.
Pickwick learns that the Chancery prisoner, in whose case he has taken an interest, is in serious ill health. He goes to visit him and finds him near death. He stays by his side, listening to him talk of his twenty years in Fleet Prison, before he quiets. He is so deathlike already that they do not notice when he dies.
Mr. Weller brings his wife and Reverend Stiggins to visit Sam, but Stiggins only drinks and Mrs. Weller cries. Pickwick takes Sam to see Jingle and Job Trotter, whom Sam discovers are in a better section and with better food, thanks to Pickwick. As Pickwick further travels around the prison, he becomes so overwrought by the conditions that he goes to his own room and stays there for three months.
Mrs. Bardell, some of her friends, and her son Tommy go the Hampstead for tea at the Spaniards Inn. While there, Mr. Jackson of Dodson and Fogg arrives, telling Mrs. Bardell that she is wanted by her lawyers on urgent business. It is decided that Mrs. Bardell and Tommy will go with Mr. Jackson and the others will follow. Instead of taking Mrs. Bardell to the law offices, Mr. Jackson drops her off at a strange door, which he announces is Fleet Prison. Dodson and Fogg had taken her case on speculation, meaning that they would be paid following the trial, but Mrs. Bardell has not paid them because Pickwick did not pay damages. Therefore, Mrs. Bardell has been sent to the debtor’s prison for non-payment of debt. As she enters, Pickwick and Sam see and recognize her. Sam lifts his hat, but Pickwick turns his back on her. Mrs. Bardell faints dead away.