In keeping with Lady Dedlock's injunction, Esther manages to keep Lady Dedlock's revelation that they are mother and daughter a secret from Mr. Jarndyce and even from Ada.
A week has passed since Ada's arrival to Boythorn's house (Esther is to stay there a month) when Charley confides in Esther about a gentleman who is at Dedlock Arms, a pub, and who wishes to meet with Esther. Esther can't imagine who it is but goes there as the message had been communicated by Mr. Grubble, the pub's owner who Esther knows and trusts.
The gentleman turns out to be Richard Carstone who is on leave from work as a commissioned officer in the military. He has briefly come to see Esther and Ada before going to London to attend to the Jarndyce and Jarndyce lawsuit. When Esther is told this, she does all she can to talk Rick out of his obsession with the lawsuit to no avail. Rick will pursue the matter to the utmost 'til it yields its rewards, never mind that the effort has presently put him in debt again. Left with no other alternative, Esther tries to persuade Mr. Skimpole, who has leached onto Rick to Esther's dismay, to act as a sage counselor and to deter Rick from his free spending ways. Needless to say, Esther's efforts vis-a-vis Mr. Skimpole are for naught.
Presently, as Esther, Ada, Rick, and Mr. Skimpole are taking a walk in and around Chesney Wold, a Mr. Vholes approaches them and confides in Rick. Subsequently, Rick informs the ladies that he will be directly going to London to attend to the Jarndyce and Jarndyce Chancery lawsuit. Mr. Vholes, the ladies learn, is Rick's hired assistant in the lawsuit. He is a widower with three daughters, and he has a creepy, lifeless affectation about him that reminds Esther of a predator in waiting. That evening when Rick departs with Mr. Vholes, Esther can't help but feel an immense sadness for Ada. For her and Rick's sake, Esther has Ada write a letter to Rick, strongly urging him to give up his obsession with the Jarndyce and Jarndyce Chancery lawsuit. Again, the effort is in vain.