Chapters 50-53 Summary

Esther receives a note from Caddy Jellyby that she is ill and wishes Esther to nurse her. Esther goes back and forth to London, despite Mr. Jarndyce’s misgivings, and takes care of Caddy and her little baby, who is named Esther. There is something odd about little Esther, who never seems to notice sounds. Mr. Jarndyce eventually proposes that the Bleak House family move to their place in London so Esther will not have to travel so much. He also suggests that Mr. Woodcourt check on Caddy; he does so and brings Caddy back to health. Esther feels badly that she has been neglecting Ada (who recently turned twenty-one). One night Ada breaks down in tears, fearful about something she will not share with Esther. That night, Esther notices that Ada sleeps with one hand under her pillow.

Mr. Woodcourt visits Mr. Vholes, who tells him the extent of Richard’s financial difficulties. Richard lives in the same building as Mr. Vholes, so Mr. Woodcourt goes to see him. Richard assures the doctor that he is looking out for Ada’s best interests. Esther suggests to Ada that the two of them go to check on Richard. Ada seems reluctant, but she eventually goes. Richard is exhausted. Ada throws herself on him and tells Esther that she will not be returning to Bleak House. She and Richard have been married for two months, and Ada will stay by her husband through his difficulties. Esther leaves, assuring Ada that she forgives whatever there is to forgive, but she is overcome by loneliness on her return home. Mr. Jarndyce, on learning of the marriage, now pities Richard and Ada but forgives them both.

Mr. Woodcourt arrives at Bleak House and tells the family of Mr. Tulkinghorn’s murder. Esther is shocked, thinking of her mother’s fear of Mr. Tulkinghorn. She and Mr. Jarndyce go to visit Mr. George in prison; although the circumstances are suspicious, they think the old trooper is innocent. Mr. and Mrs. Bagnet also arrive and bring food. Mr. George is urged to get an attorney, but he refuses. He relates that he saw a woman who resembled Esther pass him on the street the night he left Mr. Tulkinghorn’s offices prior to the murder. Esther is shaken. Mrs. Bagnet says she will find Mr. George’s mother and bring her to London.

Mr. Bucket meets his wife and goes to Mr. Tulkinghorn’s sparsely attended funeral. He then goes to Sir Leicester’s home and lets himself in. He sees a letter addressed to Lady Dedlock, which causes him to look at other papers to compare the handwriting. He assures Sir Leicester that he will soon have the facts of the case lined up. Lady Dedlock returns and goes straight to her room. Mr. Bucket questions Mercury, the servant, about Lady Dedlock. He learns that she was out the night of Mr. Tulkinghorn’s murder, wearing a fringed veil.