The rain depresses Lady Dedlock, who has married herself to the English aristocracy and who is arguably the most fashionable lady in all of England. In a few days, she will go to Paris with her husband Sir Leicester Dedlock, but until that time she must beguile the time in rainy, wet Lincolnshire.
Presently, the Dedlocks entertain Mr. Tulkinghorn, their drab, inscrutable attorney and confidante. When Mr. Tulkinghorn mentions Lady Dedlock’s case in the High Court of Chancery (which concerns Lady Dedlock’s marriage dowry), Lady Dedlock dismisses the case, arguing that the process of resolving the case will never happen, at least not in their lifetime. But then Mr. Tulkinghorn produces a document which animates Lady Dedlock to the point of making her nearly faint. Sir Leicester attributes it to the weather which he claims has weakened his wife’s constitution.
By and by, Lady Dedlock has a servant help her to a private room where she can recover. Meanwhile, Sir Leicester confers with Mr. Tulkinghorn, never mind that much of what Mr. Tulkinghorn has to say is liable to make Sir Leicester fall asleep.