Elizabeth’s mind is still on the prior night’s events when she awakes the next morning. She decides she should get some exercise in the fresh air. She chooses a different path than she normally walks, fearing she’ll encounter Mr. Darcy.
However, she does encounter Mr. Darcy, who has been walking for quite a while in search of her. He hands her a letter and asks her to read it. He disappears after giving it to her.
She is curious, though not expecting to like its contents. It is a very long letter.
The letter assures her he is not going to ask her yet again for her hand, nor does he intend to hurt her. However, he wishes to defend his character against her allegations.
Mr. Darcy knew Mr. Bingley preferred Jane, but he hadn’t considered it a problem because Mr. Bingley frequently fell in love. It was only at the Netherfield ball that he realized there was an expectation of marriage. He watched the couple closer after that. Though Bingley seemed more smitten than he has ever been before, Jane seemed to feel no more than flattered at his attentions. The Bennets' situation was not so much a problem as the lack of propriety most of the family members exhibited. Jane and Elizabeth are considered the only ones who are well-bred.
Mr. Bingley’s sisters had the same apprehensions. Mr. Darcy did convince Mr. Bingley to leave Netherfield. Though Mr. Bingley had thought Jane had a regard for him, he generally trusts Mr. Darcy’s judgment—who convinced him that she didn’t care for him. Though Mr. Darcy and Miss Bingley were aware that Jane was in London, they kept Mr. Bingley ignorant of the knowledge. He did not mean to injure Jane, but he feels justified in his reasons.
As for Mr. Wickham, Mr. Darcy’s father had supported him through school, having a high regard for Mr. Wickham’s father. He hoped that Mr. Wickham would go into the church. Mr. Darcy Jr. was not fooled by the amiable nature of Mr. Wickham, which had won over his father completely. He saw him in his weaker moments.
However, he was determined to follow his father’s wishes and help Mr. Wickham. Mr. Wickham decided the church was not right for him and asked for money to study the law. Mr. Darcy gave him a substantial amount. Mr. Wickham, though, chose to be idle—and three years later he was depleted financially. He asked for money to return to his church studies, but this time Mr. Darcy refused.
Mr. Wickham began to secretly court Georgiana Darcy and won her affections. He convinced her to elope with him. She informed her brother before doing this, and he convinced her not to do it. Mr. Darcy doesn’t doubt that aside form her fortune, Mr. Wickham was probably doing it out of revenge. Colonel Fitzwilliam can vouch for these events if she doesn’t trust his word.