Esther doesn't tell anyone about the whole Lady-Dedlock-is-my-mom situation, but every time the name comes up her heart skips a beat.
A few weeks later she has a visitor at the village inn. This is kind of weird, because why wouldn't the person just come to the house?
Esther goes to check it out and finds... Richard! OK, you already knew that because you read the list of characters in this chapter.
He's happy to see her, doesn't react to her face in any way, but immediately launches into his conspiracy theory about Jarndyce. He thinks Jarndyce is trying to keep him away from the lawsuit to get some kind of advantage over him.
Esther is sad to see Miss Flite's prediction about Richard becoming obsessed with Chancery coming true.
Richard has also brought Skimpole with him, who is apparently now leeching off Richard. Skimpole is not such a great influence in the best-case scenario, and this is very far from the best case.
Skimpole does his usual song-and-dance about being totally irresponsible and not knowing anything about anything, but Esther pretty clearly tells us that she is onto him and understands that he is not as innocent and naïve as he pretends to be. Well, duh.
Richard asks Esther to tell Ada that he is working really hard for both of them. Too bad it's not at some actual job, but instead he's just getting deeper and deeper into debt trying to follow the court case.
He also passes along a message that as soon as Ada is no longer a minor he's going to re-propose to her.
In response, Ada writes Richard a letter telling to him to lay off the case already and not to worry about her.
Meanwhile Esther tries to talk to Skimpole and get him to leave Richard alone.
Both the letter and the conversation totally fail. Both of these guys are way past a stern talking-to.
The next day Richard comes to visit Ada, and all is very nice, until the arrival of Richard's new lawyer, Mr. Vholes. (Check out the name – a vole is a rat-like rodent. Nice.)
Skimpole says he has known Vholes for a long time, since he is always running afoul of the law. Then he casually drops the bomb that Vholes actually bribed him for an introduction to Richard. That's some predatory behavior, there.
This guy looks like death warmed over. He's coming to tell Richard that his case is actually on the docket for the next day – because apparently Richard wants to be physically in court every time the case comes up.
Richard speeds off to book some carriage tickets for the trip.
Meanwhile, Mr. Vholes tells Esther and Ada about his three daughters and his aging father, all of whom he supports. Meaning? Richard is a cash cow and he's never going to get his claws off of him.
Finally Richard and Vholes drive off with a horse and rider that look to Esther like one of the Biblical horsemen of the apocalypse.