Summary and Analysis
One evening during the month-long visit at Boythorn's estate, Charley whispers to Esther, "You're wanted at the Dedlock Arms." At the inn, Esther finds Richard Carstone and Mr. Skimpole, whom Richard has come to admire: Skimpole, Richard says, is "worth . . . thrice his weight in gold." Esther realizes that "Richard could scarcely have found a worse friend." Richard, on leave from the army, is trying to bring his "Chancery interests" to a fruitful conclusion. Esther takes him to the house, where he and Ada meet again. Ada still loves Richard but Esther thinks he is too hostile to Mr. Jarndyce and too preoccupied with the Chancery suit to be genuinely in love with Ada. He asks Esther to tell Ada that he is still unable to see eye to eye with Mr. Jarndyce and is hopeful of good results at last from the suit in Chancery. By letter, Ada replies that the best thing he can do is to desist from building his future on the hope of an inheritance through the court. Skimpole has introduced Richard to Mr. Vholes, who now serves as Richard's adviser. Vholes is a venal and uninteresting person.
The motif of Richard's course toward self-destruction continues. Dickens reinforces the reader's critical attitude toward Richard by having the young man befriend another foolish and totally irresponsible human being, Harold Skimpole.