Bleak House – Chapters 6–10

Summary: Chapter 6, “Quite at Home”
Esther, Richard, and Ada leave the city and head deep
into the country. The wagon stops, and the driver comes around to
talk to them. In his hat are three notes, one for each child. The
notes are from Richard and Ada’s cousin, John Jarndyce, and contain
a message welcoming each child to his home. Richard and Ada have
the impression that their cousin is chronically unable to accept
thanks and that he will go to great lengths to avoid having people
express gratitude. The three are excited and nervous to meet him.
Bleak House sits atop a hill and finally comes into view.
Mr. Jarndyce greets the trio enthusiastically and takes them all
inside. Esther recognizes him as a man she had seen in a stagecoach
many years ago. Mr. Jarndyce encourages them to say what they really think
about Mrs. Jellyby, then worries that the wind is in the east. Ada
extols Esther’s behavior, telling Mr. Jarndyce that she cared for the
children and made herself useful. Mr. Jarndyce asks Richard about
the wind and is relieved that it is coming from the north, not the
Esther describes Bleak House, which is made up of a complex warren
of rooms that one can easily get lost in. She, Ada, and Richard
like the house.
Mr. Jarndyce announces a visitor for dinner, who he claims
is a child but not a real child. He says that this person has many
children but doesn’t look after them because he himself is a child.
He then notes that the wind seems to be stirring up.
Mr. Jarndyce gives Esther two bunches of keys for the
housekeeping. Esther is pleased that he trusts her so much.
Harold Skimpole, the childlike man, arrives. He describes
himself and says that he has no idea about time or money and has
therefore never made much of himself. He just wants to live freely. Everyone
is enchanted by him. Richard and Ada sing together by the piano,
and Mr. Skimpole greatly admires Ada’s beauty. Esther thinks Mr.
Jarndyce gives her a look suggesting that he hopes Richard and Ada’s
relationship will grow deeper someday.