It's too hard for Esther to talk about her mom, so she jumps ahead in time.
The search and the cold weather made her ill. Then she got well, and now she's staying in London to help out Ada.
One day Jarndyce asks her if it's OK for Mrs. Woodcourt to come and stay with them. Esther is kind of not into it, but she can't say why (at least not out loud). Mrs. Woodcourt has been much nicer to her recently, and there's been less talk about the fancy ancestors.
Jarndyce also tells her that Woodcourt isn't going to go abroad anymore because he's gotten a good offer to stay and help poor sick people in Yorkshire, in the north.
Meanwhile, Esther goes to visit Ada daily. Usually Richard is not there – he's off at Court – or if he is there, he's reading and rereading his court papers. He gets more and more wacko with each passing day, basically.
One day Esther runs into Miss Flite on her way over. She tells her that she has appointed Richard her executor since he's such a constant presence at the court. Esther is sad to see how far Richard has been absorbed into the craziness.
Miss Flite has also added two birds to her bird collection, named "The Wards in Jarndyce," which is also her pet name for Richard and Ada. Oh, how very nice; that's not alarming in any way at all.
Esther is genuinely spooked.
Esther goes in for dinner, and Vholes comes too. He reminds Esther of a vampire sucking away Richard's life. Vholes speaks to her in private, telling her that Richard and Ada's marriage was really inadvisable, that the case is not going well, and that Richard is running out of money. Esther can see that he's saying this not out of concern but just to cover his own behind in case something happens. She's disgusted by him.
Richard has no appetite and generally looks horrible. (Instant anachronistic Shmoop diagnosis: clinical depression. But Shmoop is not a doctor, and doesn't even play one on TV.)
Woodcourt comes to dinner too, then takes Richard out for a walk.
Esther and Ada talk. Ada is worried about Richard and clearly sees what's happening. She married him hoping to get him away from the court, but it hasn't worked. Now she's hoping the thing that will convince him to give it up will be... their new baby!