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Summary Chapter 13

Mr. Jarndyce is concerned with his cousin Richard Carstone whose lack of purpose and direction Mr. Jarndyce attributes to Chancery’s insidious influence. Still, determined to hash it out once and for all, Mr. Jarndyce confronts Richard about his future prospects. Somewhat by caprice, Richard settles on the idea of dedicating his life to medicine. Consequently, Mr. Jarndyce consults Mr. Kenge, who is summoned to Bleak House.

Agreeing that medicine is a good profession, Mr. Kenge offers to introduce Mr. Carstone to a cousin who is a surgeon and who will act as Mr. Carstone’s mentor, provided Mr. Carstone will give it his all when engaged as Mr. Kenge’s cousin’s protégé. Richard gives his word that he will give his all. Subsequently, Mr. Kenge promises to have the meeting arranged. It will be held in London.

As Mr. Jarndyce had intended to show his wards the sights of London, they go to London early, find lodgings over an upholsterer’s shop, and spend about a week attending the theatres to watch plays. All of this is very exciting. Everything seems perfect. Alas, to Esther’s distress, Mr. Guppy makes himself a nuisance by attending all the plays Mr. Jarndyce and the Bleak House wards attend and by observing Esther from afar with a look of utter despondency. Esther has a mind to tell her Guardian but refrains from doing so lest she jeopardizes Mr. Guppy’s career. She has a mind to tell Richard but again refrains from doing so lest Richard inflict Mr. Guppy with black eyes. She decides to do nothing and silently suffer the unwelcome scrutiny.

Eventually, Richard meets Mr. Kenge’s cousin Mr. Bayham Badger, the surgeon. Mr. Badger agrees to take Richard under his wing. To celebrate the momentous decision, Mr. Jarndyce and his wards are invited to the Badgers’ residence for dinner. Upon arrival at the Badger’s residence, the Bleak House residents meet Mrs. Badger who, they are told, has had two former husbands; namely, a Captain Swosser and a Professor Dingo. The Bleak House residents learn that Captain Swosser was a sailor and that Professor Dingo was a botanist and a European, thus explaining Mrs. Badger’s proclivity to talk in nautical terms and her amateur interest in flowers. Indeed, throughout the visit, the Bleak House residents learn everything there is to know about Captain Swosser and Professor Dingo, including the circumstances of their deaths.

By and by, when the Bleak House residents return to their temporary lodgings, Esther notices that Ada is unusually pensive. Esther has a hunch why that is. Ada and Richard will henceforth live apart as Richard will be busy attending to his career. It isn’t long before Ada confides in Esther, about how Richard has openly declared his love for Ada. Esther tells Ada that she isn’t surprised, that anyone could have guessed that this is how it would have unfolded months ago. Though Esther tells Ada that even Mr. Jarndyce won’t be surprised by the news, she makes a point of informing Mr. Jarndyce the next day. Subsequently, Mr. Jarndyce summons Ada and Richard to his study, and there he gives the lovers his personal blessings.

Charles Dickens