The old man then continues with a Tale about the Queer Client. This is a sad story about a man who has ended up in the debtors' prison, Marshalsea. Every day he is visited by his young wife and child. Time passes and his child becomes ill and dies. "It was plain to those who looked upon the mother's altered face that death must soon follow the scene of her adversity and trial." After his wife dies, the man promises to revenge those who have caused the deaths of his wife and child. When he gets out of prison he keeps his promise. The tone of this chapter was much more serious than previous ones showing Dickens as a social commentator, a role he would develop further in his later books.
Chapter 22 provides some light relief as Pickwick continues his journey to Ipswich on the trail of Jingle. Pickwick makes the acquaintance of Mr Peter Magnus who worries constantly about his luggage. The gentlemen stop at an inn which is "known far and wide by the appellation of the great White Horse, rendered the more conspicuous by a stone statue of some rapacious animal with flowing mane and tail, distantly resembling an insane cart horse, which is elevated above the principal door."
Mr Magnus confides to Mr Pickwick that he is going to Ipswich to propose to a lady in the morning. After enjoying a convivial meal with his new friend, Mr Pickwick decides to go to bed. However, before retiring for the night, he discovers he has left his watch downstairs. The inn is very old and has numerous twisting corridors. Eventually Mr Pickwick finds his watch but has some difficulty finding his way back to his bedroom. "A dozen times did he softly turn the handle of some bedroom door which resembled his own, when a gruff cry from within of 'Who the devil's that?' or 'What do you want here?' caused him to steal away, on tiptoe, with a perfectly marvellous celerity." Finally he reaches his own bedroom and is getting ready for bed when he realises another person has entered the room. This is a middle aged lady in yellow curl-papers. What ensues is really funny as Pickwick beats a swift retreat. Luckily Sam finds him and takes him back to his own room saying, "You rayther want somebody to look arter you, sir, wen your judgement goes out a wisitin'."