In the house of the godmother Miss Barberry, where the childhood of Esther Summerston passes, the girl feels alone. She seeks to know the secret of her birth, asks the godfather to tell her something about her mother, but to no avail. One day, after returning from school, the girl finds an unfamiliar master at home, who, after looking at her, says “Yes!”, Then leaves.
When Esther was fourteen years old, her godmother died. After the funeral, the same gentleman appeared. His name was Kenge. He on behalf of Mr. Jarndyce proposes to place Esther in a prestigious educational institution. Six good years of her life passed in the guesthouse. After studying, Jarndyce identified Esther as a companion to his cousin Ade Clare. Together with a relative of Ada Clare, Richard Carston, they settle in the guardian estate, known in the district as the Cold House. This house, once a desolation, thanks to the efforts of Jarndyce, now looks transformed. With the advent of young people,
he comes to life even more. The discreet and clever Esther is handed the keys to all the rooms and storerooms. The girl copes well with household chores.
Their neighbors are Sir Lester Dedlock and his wife, who is much younger than her husband. William Guppy, an employee of Kenge’s office, falls in love with Esther. Once, during a visit to the Dedlock estate, he, quite amazed, stops at one of his family portraits. The face of the mistress of the house seems to him very familiar. He admits Esther in his feelings, but receives a refusal. Then the young man hints at the striking similarity between Esther and my Lady. He receives letters from an unknown gentleman who died of an opium overdose and was buried in a cemetery for the poor. From the letters Guppy learned of the connection between Captain Houdon and Lady Dedlock, and the birth of their daughter. Guppy immediately tells Lady Dedlock about it, leading her to great embarrassment.
Lady Dedlock, secretly meeting with Esther in the park, confesses that she is her mother. When Houdon threw her, she, as she was then assured, gave birth to a dead child.
She could not think that the child would come to life at the hands of her sister, and the girl would be brought up in secret from her own mother. The woman sincerely repented and begged for forgiveness, for silence. Esther, shocked by the discovery, agreed to any conditions.
Around the lady Dedlock the clouds were gathering. A few inadvertently abandoned words suggest lawyer Tulkinghorn to trace the secrets of this woman. The lawyer suspects that the lady, disguised in a maid’s dress, visited the house and grave of her lover. Steals Houdy’s letters from Guppy. Somehow in the presence of the Dedlock and all their guests, Talkinghorn tells this story, supposedly happened to another woman, unknown to anybody.
As a result, Talkinghorn threatened Lady Dedlock to reveal her whole shameful truth to her husband. When he is found dead, suspicion falls on Lady Dedlock. Sir Lester is struck by a blow. Milady fled the house without taking any money or jewelry. She leaves a farewell letter, in which she writes that she is innocent. Inspector Bucket undertook to look for her, turning to Esther for help. A paralyzed husband forgives his wife, waiting for her to return home soon. To search also joins the enamored in Esther, Dr. Allen Woodcourt. At the cemetery for the poor, Allen discovers the body of Esther’s mother. The girl painfully experiences all that has happened. Guardian Jarndyce took care to settle Esther and Allen in a glorious estate in Yorkshire, where Allen Woodcourt took the place of a doctor in a hospital for the poor. For Esther and her husband, he was forever a best friend.