One day, while Esther and Ada are strolling about in the Bleak House garden, Charley comes up to Esther to tell her she is wanted in Mr. Jarndyce's office. When Esther goes there, she finds herself in the company of Mr. Vholes, as well as Mr. Jarndyce. Mr. Vholes has some bad news considering Richard Carstone. Rick is terribly in debt, and Mr. Vholes has come to tell Mr. Jarndyce that Rick is on the verge of giving up his commission in the army to give his full attention to the Chancery lawsuit. Subsequently, Mr. Vholes take his leave, declining to partake of lunch.
Esther acquires Mr. Jarndyce's permission to go see Rick at his army post. She goes with Charley, and she carries with her a letter written by Ada. The army post is in a coastal town called Deal, and it takes about 10 hours to get there. When they arrive at Deal, they put up at a bed and breakfast. Having fortified themselves with breakfast, they decide to pay Rick's barracks a visit if only to see that they could gain admittance. On their way, they spot an sailing vessel that has just come from India.
At the barracks, Esther gains admittance to Rick's quarters. Needless to say, Rick's condition is worse than it ever was, and Esther is at a loss at how she could persuade Rick to give up the Chancery suit. (Rick has decided to give up his army post and give his undivided attention to the Chancery suit.) She hands Rick Ada's letter. Rick reads it, and then blames John Jarndyce for having put a wedge between he and Ada. In the letter, Ada has offered to give Rick all her fortune with which she hopes that Rick will dissolve his debts, forget about the Chancery suit, and continue holding his army commission. Rick believes that Ada's offer is John Jarndyce's doing, that he had put Ada up to it. Subsequently, Esther censures Rick who takes back what he says and apologizes. Eventually, they decide to go down to London together.
As Esther and Charley return to their bed and breakfast, they take note of some of the sailors of the ship that has just come from India coming ashore. Inexplicably, pushing Charley before her, Esther runs away from the scene. One of the sailors coming ashore had been Mr. Allan Woodcourt; Esther wants to spare Mr. Woodcourt the shock of seeing her changed appearance. On second thought, Esther realizes that she has no reason for trying to hide herself from Mr. Woodcourt. Thus, when Mr. Woodcourt's party puts up at the same bed and breakfast where Esther and Charley are staying, Esther greets Mr. Woodcourt and they become reaquainted.
Presently, Rick joins them at the bed and breakfast. Rick and Mr. Woodcourt reaquaint themselves. Rick proposes that they all go down to London together, but Mr. Woodcourt explains that he can't for professional reasons. However, the next day, Mr. Woodcourt joins them for an early breakfast. While Rick sees to his luggage, Esther persuades Mr. Woodcourt to befriend Rick while they are in London. Mr. Woodcourt, who has noticed Rick's change for the worse, vows to do all he can to help Rick in whatever way he can.