Richard and Mr. Skimpole go off together and eventually Richard sends for Esther. He tells her that Mr. Skimpole has been arrested for debt and needs money. She and Richard gather the sum he needs and give it to him so that he doesn’t have to go to jail or to Coavinses, a poorhouse. Later, Mr. Jarndyce is horrified that they have given him money and says that Mr. Skimpole relies on everyone to keep him out of debt. He then complains of the wind. Then he relaxes and claims that Mr. Skimpole’s irresponsibility is just part of his childishness and must be excused. Everyone goes to bed.
The narrator returns while Esther sleeps. He says it is raining on the Ghost Walk by a house called Chesney Wold in Lincolnshire. Sir Leicester is not there; both he and the lady are in Paris. The housekeeper, Mrs. Rouncewell, has been there more than fifty years.
Mrs. Rouncewell had two sons. One became a soldier and never came home. The other became an engineer of sorts, which Mrs. Rouncewell sees as a failing. However, his wife gave a grandson, Watt, who visits her at Chesney Wold.
Watt asks Mrs. Rouncewell to tell him about a young girl that he has seen at the house, and Mrs. Rouncewell tells him it is Rosa, a widow’s daughter. She is a maid and lives with Mrs. Rouncewell. Rosa enters the room and tells Mrs. Rouncewell two men had come by, one of whom gave her a card for Mrs. Rouncewell. Watt reads the card, which says “Mr. Guppy.” Rosa says that he and the other man were from London and had heard about Chesney Wold. Mr. Guppy said he was not from Mr. Tulkinghorn’s office but that Mr. Tulkinghorn knows him.
Mrs. Rouncewell invites the men in and they look around the house. She tells them that a portrait over the fireplace is of Lady Dedlock. Mr. Guppy recognizes her and is stunned. He admires a terrace, and Mrs. Rouncewell tells him it is called the Ghost’s Walk, after an old family story. The men leave.
Mrs. Rouncewell then tells the story to Watt and Rosa. She believes the family deserves a ghost. The story goes as follows: Sir Morbury Dedlock’s wife betrayed the family by giving information to King Charles’s enemies. She eavesdropped on conversations between her husband and the king’s allies. She and Sir Morbury were not suited for each other. Sir Morbury’s relative killed her favorite brother in the civil wars, and now she hates Sir Morbury’s family and the king’s cause. She often hurt the horses when Sir Morbury and other men were to ride out for the cause. One night, Sir Morbury caught her, grabbed her, and in the process her hip was hurt and she began to waste away. Every day she tried to walk on the terrace, and one day she collapsed. She declared that she would die where she had walked and would haunt the terrace until the house’s pride was destroyed. Mrs. Rouncewell says that footsteps are always heard but that disgrace has never come to the house.