Though it's not easy, Esther does all she can to not let her secret regarding Lady Dedlock adversely affect her. One way to cope with it is to focus on Richard's worsening situation. Indeed, with regards Rick, Esther has many conversations with Ada. Ada is sorry that Rick now regards Mr. Jarndyce his mortal enemy, but, on account of her love for Rick, Ada can't bring herself to blame Rick. Subsequently, in consultation with Mr. Jarndyce, they decide that the least that they could do for Rick is to prevent his association with Mr. Skimpole from worsening his--Rick's--financial situation.
Thus Ada, Esther, and Mr. Jarndyce pay Mr. Skimpole a visit. Mr. Skimpole greets them in his usual airy, light manner and introduces them to his wife and three daughters. Mr. Jarndyce tries to impress Mr. Skimpole on the necessity of refusing Rick's kindnesses. Stating his ignornace and indifference to worldy affairs, however, Mr. Skimpole asserts in his inability to do such a thing. Consequently, Mr. Jarndyce decides to have Mr. Skimpole visit Bleak House for a few days for additional counseling, a relief to Mr. Skimpole who has been harrassed of late by a baker with regard a pair of armchairs that Mr. Skimpole had borrowed of him and had tried to return worse for the wear.
They have settled down at Bleak House when a visitor comes calling. The visitor is none other Sir Leicester Dedlock. He has come to apologize for having barred Mr. Jarndyce and his wards from visiting Chesney Wold, explaining that the prohibition was meant for Mr. Boythorn and that anyone who is on good terms with his wife, as Mr. Jarndyce is with Lady Dedlock, is on good terms with Sir Leicester Dedlock. All the while, Esther tries to keep her self to the background to avoid any interaction with Sir Leicester.
Later that night, Esther goes to have a word with her guardian at the Growlery. She asks about the exact circumstances that led to the sundering of Lady Dedlock and her sister who was Esther's godmother. Mr. Jarndyce imparts a secret. Esther's godmother had once been married, and the man she had been married to was Laurence Boythorn. Alas, on account of some irreconcilable difference between the sisters, Esther's godmother broke it off with Mr. Boythorn (for Mr. Boythorn's honor sake) to take care of Esther. At this, Esther weeps, blaming herself for causing so much unhappiness. When Mr. Jarndyce begs for an explanation, Esther reveals that fact that Lady Dedlock is her mother.