There are two consequences when Esther Summerson, having contracted the virus that had afflicted her hand maid Charley, falls ill: Esther loses her eyesight and her facial features undergo a radical change. Though by degrees Esther regains her eyesight, her looks have irrevocably altered. Subsequently, Esther, who has barred Ada from coming near lest Ada contract the virus, decides to continue keeping Ada at arm's length, i.e. until Esther has regained her strength both physically and mentally. To that end, Esther agrees to take up on Mr. Laurence Boythorn's offer which would have Esther take temporary possession of Mr. Boythorn's cottage in Chesney Wold and which offer Mr. Boythorn had communicated to Mr. Jarndyce by letter.
While talking to her guardian, whose visits aren't barred, Esther learns that Richard Carstone's situation vis-a-vis Chancery has gotten worse to the extent that they can now only hope that Rick will come to his senses before it is too late. She also learns that Miss Flite, the old mad woman, who expects a favorable judgment from Chancery, had walked twenty miles from London to ask about Esther's health. Needless to say, Esther agrees to meet with Miss Flite, and on the appointed time and day, they do just that.
Miss Flite is her usual talkative, rambling self, but her madness dooesn't preclude moments of lucidity. One such moment involves Miss Flite's observation that Richard Carstone had best find a way to sever his ties with Chancery lest that institution do to Rick what it had done to Gridley and Miss Flite's family. (Miss Flite's father, brother, and sister had all been reduced to rags, dying premature deaths on account of Chancery.) She then apprises Esther of odd news. A young lady, whom Esther initially believes is Caddy but whom Miss Flite identifies as the Lord Chancellor's wife, had paid the bricklayer's wife Jenny a visit during which she had gained possession of Esther's handkerchief which Esther had left with Jenny for Liz's baby sake.Finally, producing newspaper clippings that tell the story, Miss Flite speaks of Mr. Woodcourt, who had attended to Miss Flite's medical welfare before sailing for China/India. Apparently, Mr. Woodcourt has been in a shipwreck during which he has proven himself to be the ablest of doctors, a natural leader, and a certifiable hero.
Before Miss Flite departs Bleak House, she is treated to a sumptuous meal prepared by Ada, which she--Miss Flite--is badly in need of. Miss Flite's hearty enjoyment of the meal gives Esther great delight and makes her forget about Miss Flite's madness which insists that a favorable judgment is forthcoming from Chancery of which she--Miss Flite--will be the beneficiary. Presently, reflecting on Mr. Woodcourt's heroic exploits, on account of her altered appearance, Esther thinks it's for the best that Mr. Woodcourt, who seemed to have been attracted to Esther, had never proposed.