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Summary Chapter 60

Though in mourning for her mother, Esther reminds herself of her good fortune—of all the kind and supportive people around her—and moves on with her life.

On account of Ada’s marriage to Richard and of Ada’s residency in London, Mr. Jarndyce has decided to remain in London indefinitely in order to facilitate Esther’s visits of Ada and Richard. The news gladdens Esther, but Mr. Jarndyce has another bit of news: Provided Esther doesn’t mind, Mr. Jarndyce will provide Mrs. Woodcourt with lodgings, thus facilitating Mrs. Woodcourt’s visits to her son who is currently situated in London. The news bothers Esther, but she gives her consent. Presently, she asks Mr. Jarndyce whether Mr. Woodcourt will be engaged in another expedition abroad. The answer is no, and Mr. Jarndyce explains that if all goes well, Mr. Woodcourt will have a private practice set up in Yorkshire, never mind that the appointment is not a lucrative one. Esther and Mr. Jarndyce agree that the town of Yorkshire would be lucky to have such an able and an heroic surgeon as Mr. Woodcourt.

At first, Esther made a habit of visiting Ada and Richard in the mornings, but of late, she has increased the frequency of her visits. She thus sets out for Symond’s Inn one early evening when she runs into Miss Flite, who informs Esther that Ada is in but not Richard. Apparently, Miss Flite knows of Richard’s comings and goings what with Richard’s presence at Chancery Court being such a staple these days, as to almost rival Miss Flite’s. Then Miss Flite lets Esther in on a secret: Miss Flite has made Richard her executor. She had intended to make Gridley her executor, but as Gridley had died and as Miss Flite is very fond of Richard, whose presence at Chancery Court now rivals Miss Flite’s, she had realized that Richard would be her ideal executor. Asking Esther to keep this a secret from Richard, Miss Flite then speaks of her birds, which she keeps in a cage to symbolize the imprisonment of all that is good by the inequities of Chancery Court. (She plans to release the birds once the Court decides in her favor.) Miss Flite has added two more birds to her collection, and this news unsettles Esther, as the two new birds no doubt symbolize Ada and Richard.

Presently, Esther arrives at Ada and Richard’s residence where she finds Ada alone. It isn’t long, however, when Richard, accompanied by Mr. Vholes, arrives. While Ada and Richard prepare dinner, Mr. Vholes converses with Esther. Mr. Vholes objects to Ada’s marriage to Richard. He believes that Richard’s business vis-à-vis the Chancery suit is too important a matter to be mixed up with anything domestic. Though angry with the creepy and dispassionate Mr. Vholes, Esther tolerates him. By and by, dinner passes, Mr. Vholes leaves, and Richard slumps down on a couch when Mr. Woodcourt pays a visit. Mr. Woodcourt proposes that he and Richard go for a walk, which Richard accepts.

Alone, Ada confides in Esther. She tells Esther of how when she first decided to marry and live with Richard, of how she had hoped to wean Richard away from the Chancery suit. She assures Esther that even if she knew beforehand of how futile that attempt would be, she would have chosen to marry and live with Richard. She explains how when Richard’s pitiable sight these days robs her of all her hopes, of how she takes strength in their unborn child. Alas, Ada cries. She is fearful that at the rate the Chancery suit is sapping his strength, that Richard may never live to see his child.

Charles Dickens