Tulkinghorn inquires into the death of Nemo, whose handwriting was recognized by Lady Dedlock. Later, Gumpy expresses his feelings for Esther, to her discomfort. Finally, the wheels of justice at the Chancery are displayed.
Esther meets Dr. Woodcourt, who plans to be a ship surgeon. Lady Dedlock visits Jo concerning Nemo and later meets the Jarndyce wards. Charley is hired by Jarndyce, who later learns of the plans of Ada and Richard.
Jarndyce tells Esther about an old letter of her aunt. Smallweed then visits Sgt. George and seeks a handwriting sample letter for Tulkinghorn. Finally, Guppy reveals to Lady Dedlock that he may acquire some old Hawdon letters.
Upon the death of Krook, Smallweed examines the personal effects, including letters reviewed by Tulkinghorn. Later, Esther becomes seriously ill with the pox. Finally, Tulkinghorn has a frank conversation with Lady Dedlock.
After Esther recovers from her illness, Jarndyce proposes marriage to her. Later, Lady Dedlock confesses to Esther and asks for forgiveness. Young Jo expires, and Tulkinghorn is surprised and shot in his study.
Inspector Bucket jails George for murder and tells Sir Leicester everything he has learned. Lady Dedlock denies to her husband that she is a murderess. Bucket solves the case but now searches with Esther for Lady Dedlock.
Now married to Ada, Richard is sick with despair but excited by good news. A new found will enables the Chancery to conclude the case. Guppy proposes again, and Woodcourt does so also. Still engaged, Esther is to marry for love.