Mr. Skimpole also visits Richard regularly, and Esther can see that he is bad influence and that Ada is troubled by his presence. She goes to visit Mr. Skimpole in secret and tells him that Richard is very poor, and that Mr. Skimpole should not go there anymore. Mr. Skimpole lightly agrees and says that he only visits places that bring him pleasure and where he can be entertained.
Mr. Skimpole is only interested in friends he can use for his own pleasure and drops Richard immediately. He does not really care about Richard but only about himself.
Esther also tells him that she was very disappointed to hear that he accepted a bribe from Mr. Bucket on the night that Jo was taken from the house and Mr. Skimpole is amazed at the suggestion and feigns total ignorance. Esther says that he has no regard for morality and Mr. Skimpole says that he has no need for it and is above this sort of thing. He also asks Esther to think of the damage which may have been done to Mr. Bucket’s investigation if he had not accepted the bribe.
Mr. Skimpole feels that he does not need to take responsibility for things because he can always find people to take advantage of. While this is true, sensible people, like Esther, distance themselves from people like this, who are only out for themselves.
Esther leaves after this and never sees Mr. Skimpole again. When Mr. Jarndyce discovers that Mr. Skimpole has ignored his request to leave Richard alone, he, too, stops speaking to Mr. Skimpole. Mr. Skimpole dies shortly after, still owing Mr. Jarndyce an enormous amount of money. Before his death, he publishes a book, which describes Mr. Jarndyce as an extremely selfish man.
It is ironic that Mr. Skimpole writes about Mr. Jarndyce in this way, as Mr. Skimpole is the truly selfish one, while Mr. Jarndyce helped him time and time again even when Mr. Skimpole was far from deserving. Mr. Skimpole only views Mr. Jarndyce as selfish because Mr. Jarndyce has recently refused to keep paying for him, despite the countless times Mr. Jarndyce had helped him in the past.
Richard’s health grows worse, and his obsession with Chancery becomes “like the madness of a gamester.” Mr. Woodcourt still goes to see him, but Esther can see that Richard deteriorates. One night, Esther and Mr. Woodcourt walk home from Richard’s together and Mr. Woodcourt confesses his love for Esther. Esther is amazed and tries to stifle her disappointment because she is already engaged to Mr. Jarndyce.
Richard has gambled his future on the Chancery suit and lost. He is now in a desperate madness, like that of an addict. Esther honors her agreement with Mr. Jarndyce, even though this brings her pain, and Mr. Woodcourt respects this.
Still, she expresses her immense gratitude and high regard for Mr. Woodcourt and, although he is disappointed in love, he handles it nobly and assures her that nothing will change between them, and that he will still attend to Richard. He leaves Esther alone and she goes to her room to cry.
Mr. Woodcourt does not resent Esther for rejecting him and does not seek to punish her by withdrawing the favors he has promised to carry out on her behalf.