The Jarndyce and Jarndyce case is finally ready to “come up,” this time at Westminster Hall (in London). On their way to Westminster, Esther and Allan meet Caddy passing by in a carriage.
At Westminster Hall, they learn that legal costs have exhausted the entire worth of the estate. The shock is too much for the already ill Richard: though resolved to start life afresh — “to begin the world” — and reconciled at last with Mr. Jarndyce, he dies the same day. Miss Flite comes weeping to Esther. The “poor, crazed” woman has set her birds free.
Lady Dedlock has been buried unobtrusively in the family mausoleum at Chesney Wold. How she died is a mystery. Sir Leicester, riding on the estate with George Rouncewell, constantly honors her memory and her burial place. He and Boythorn still quarrel over the disputed thoroughfare, but in a way that gives satisfaction to both. George and Phil Squod have a permanent residence in one of the lodges of the park. Chesney Wold, now headed only by an aging widower, settles into a “dull repose.” Sir Leicester himself will live only a little longer. In the evenings, Volumnia reads political treatises to him. She discovers that she will inherit the estate.
Things go according to Dickens’ foreshadowing. Jarndyce and Jarndyce comes to nothing. Richard pays for his persistent folly. Sir Leicester remains firm in his dignity and touching in his devotion to Lady Dedlock. In the descriptions of a changed and subdued Chesney Wold, Dickens’ art of creating atmosphere or mood by describing houses and grounds in changing light and seasons asserts itself triumphantly once more.