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Summary Chapter 24

Richard Carstone's lack of resolution with regard his career prompts John Jarndyce to intervene and impose the following conditions. Rick is to give his all to the Horse's Guard where he has acquired an Ensign's commission. To that end, until such time when he is financially independent, Rick is to break off his engagement with Ada. Last but not least, Mr. Jarndyce exhorts Rick to have no delusions with regards the Chancery suit Jarndyce and Jarndyce. Mr. Jarndyce assures Rick that he is better off dead than to place his hopes of striking it rich by immersing himself in the said lawsuit.

Ada defers to John Jarndyce's wisdom, but Rick is incorrigibly stubborn in persisting to think that he has the key to unsolving the riddle that is Jarndyce and Jarndyce. Indeed, Rick holds a grudge against his cousin John Jarndyce, agreeing to do as counseled albeit reluctantly. Thus John Jarndyce and Esther go to London to see Richard off to Liverpool (and eventually to Holyhead; Ada remains at Bleak House), but not before Mr. Jarndyce has an occassion to meet with his friend Mr. George, the former cavalry officer, who has had occasion to practice fencing with Rick. During the course of their requaintance, Mr. Jarndyce and Mr. George converse about a man named Gridley who is in hiding on account of his defiance vis-a-vis the High Court of Chancery. Esther listens with interest.

Presently, the day arrives for Rick's departure. As there is time, and as the case Jarndyce and Jarndyce is on the docket, Esther and Rick decide to attend a session in the High Court of Chancery. Not surpisingly, nothing of substance is achieved as the case is dismissed until the next time when the cycle will only be repeated. As Esther and Rick make for the exit, Esther is waylaid by an old acquiantance, a Mrs. Rachael who was a servant in Esther godmother's house. They exchange greetings, and Esther learns that Mrs. Rachael is now Mrs. Chadband. Shortly thereafter, Rick is waylaid by Mr. George who has a special request. He would like Esther and Rick to help him--Mr. George--escort Miss Flite, the old, madwoman whose presence in the Court is as fixed as the North Star, to his shooting gallery where Mr. George has provided safe haven for Gridley. Apparently Gridley and Miss Flite are the oldest and dearest of friends. Esther and Rick decide to oblige Mr. George and they escort Miss Flite, who is very fond of both Esther and Rick and who has been by their side all along, to Mr. George's shooting gallery, but not before informing Mr. Jarndyce of their detour via telegram.

At George's shooting gallery, a man dressed as a physician gains admittance as Gridley is very sick and as Mr. George had sent out a request for a house call. The physician, however, reveals himself to be Inspector Bucket who has been pursuing Gridley at Mr. Tulkinghorn's behest. Giving his word that he will honor Bucket's duty, Mr. George has Bucket to agree to let Gridley have a moment with Miss Flite. Presently, Mr. Jarndyce arrives on the scene as the party moves en masse to have a look at Gridley. He is in a sorry state. He declares that Chancery has divested him of everything but his friendship with Miss Flite. At that, Bucket exhorts Gridley to fight and be his former self when his defiance provided him--Bucket--and the High Court of Chancery with excellent sport. Gridley is a broken man, however, and as he gets up to be escorted into Bucket's custody, he collapses and dies. Miss Flite howls in mourning.

As Esther sees off Rick, she is reminded of Gridley's last words: but for his friendship with Miss Flite, Chancery had taken everything that he--Gridley--had ever called his own.

Charles Dickens