Mr. Gardiner agrees with Jane’s opinion that Wickham wouldn’t dare do the dishonorable thing with Lydia—who has friends and is protected, and who was also staying with his colonel’s family. Elizabeth feels more optimistic, but she wonders why they didn’t go to Scotland. Mrs. Gardiner points out that they might have, but they might have realized that it was more economical to get married in London.
Elizabeth doesn’t understand why they are being secretive, and Wickham’s friend didn’t believe he would marry a poor girl. Wickham may not care about any disgrace in the corps. Lydia has no brothers, and their father has never bothered to interfere with his daughter…and he would probably therefore do nothing. The Gardiners have faith that Lydia wouldn’t do anything unless she had a ring on her finger. Elizabeth thinks that Lydia is young, thoughtless, vain, and only cares about the pursuit of pleasure. She has been obsessed with officers since the regiment was stationed in Meryton. Wickham is very charming. Lydia was also ignorant of Wickham’s past.
Elizabeth blames herself for not revealing Wickham’s history. It hadn’t seemed necessary at the time. She didin’t realize that Lydia and Wickham liked each other.
The Gardiners and Elizabeth arrive at Longbourn in the evening of the next day. The Gardiner children are happy to see their parents.
Mr. Bennet went to London on Tuesday, but he has only written once to assure them he arrived safely. He wouldn’t write until he had something worth mentioning.
Mrs. Bennet won’t leave her bedroom. Mary and Kitty are fine. Jane is pale but insists she is well.
The Gardiners and Elizabeth visit Mrs. Bennet. She cries and complains about how villainous Wickham is. She blames everyone but herself for never correcting her daughter’s behavior. If only she had been in Brighton, this couldn’t have happened. The Forsters didn’t take good care of Lydia. She never trusted them, but she was unable to prevent Lydia from going. Her husband will fight Mr. Wickham and be killed. The Collinses will throw them out of Longbourn, and they’ll be homeless if Mr. Gardiner doesn’t help them.
Mr. Gardiner assures her of his affection, and he plans to go to London to help Mr. Bennet. In the meantime, they shouldn’t assume the worst. Mrs. Bennet wants Mr. Gardiner to force the marriage if he finds out they aren’t married. She wants him to keep Mr. Bennet from dueling with Wickham. She gives some instructions about Lydia’s wedding clothes. The family is relieved that she is in seclusion and not blabbing their affairs to everyone.
Kitty misses Lydia and is upset that everyone is angry with her. Mary expects there will be much gossip about this, but they must support Lydia. They can learn from Lydia’s mistake that the loss of virtue is irretrievable.
Later, Elizabeth and Jane discuss the situation. Colonel Forster suspected that Lydia liked Wickham, but this hadn’t alarmed him. Denny denied knowing that they were going to elope. Kitty revealed that they had fallen in love after Lydia went to Brighton. She was planning to marry him for several weeks before they left.
Colonel Forster’s opinion of Wickham is low. He believes him imprudent, extravagant, and he left behind many debts in Meryton.
Elizabeth regrets not revealing Wickham’s nature, but Jane says they had no reason to then. Jane shows Elizabeth Lydia’s note to Mrs. Forster. The letter reveals that Lydia intends to get married. Jane comments on how their father was unable to speak for ten minutes after hearing the news. Elizabeth fears the servants know.
Elizabeth is concerned about Jane’s health. Jane assures her that Kitty and Mary were willing to help. Lady Lucas and Mrs. Philips have visited and offered their support. Elizabeth would have preferred not to have Lady Lucas’ help.
Mr. Bennet hopes to track the couple by finding out the number of the coach they took.