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Summary Chapter 48

Mr. Bennet was always bad about writing. He does not send a letter by the next post to give any indication of his progress. His family wishes he would write even if there is nothing to report. Mr. Gardiner leaves afterwards, promising to be better about keeping them abreast of the situation. He also promises to convince his brother-in-law to return home in hopes of preventing a duel.

Mrs. Gardiner remains to help the family. Mrs. Philips also visits. She tells them the gossip about Wickham’s extravagance and leaves them feeling more depressed. Meryton is now calling Wickham a devil who is in debt to every tradesman and has seduced every tradesman’s daughter. Elizabeth and Jane, though they don’t believe everything they hear, become despondent and hold out little hope for the best outcome. When no news comes, they assume Lydia has went to Scotland.

Mr. Gardiner writes. He found Mr. Bennet, who is staying with him. They have no new information. They are now going to try and question workers at hotels. Mr. Bennet refuses to leave London. Colonel Forster plans to question his soldiers to see if any know of Wickham’s relations or where he might have gone. Mr. Gardiner inquires if Elizabeth may have this information, since he knew she had been friendly with Wickham. Elizabeth, however, doesn’t know anything.

Everyday, the family anxiously awaits for the post.

Mr. Collins writes to Mr. Bennet, offering his condolences. Though Charlotte blames the family’s indulgence, Mr. Collins assumes that Lydia’s nature was bad from the start. Lady Catherine is sorry for them, particularly as Lydia’s behavior will damage the reputation of the other girls. He is glad now that Elizabeth refused to marry him, or he would share in their disgrace. He suggests to Mr. Bennet that he cast Lydia aside and allow her to live with the consequences.

Colonel Forster doesn’t turn up any new information. Wickham had many acquaintances but no true friends. He would desire secrecy about his debts and his plans. He has a debt of a thousand pounds at least in Brighton, where he gambled a lot. Jane is dismayed to hear this.

Mr. Bennet plans to return home on Saturday. Mrs. Bennet, who feared him dying in a duel, is not pleased that he is returning without Lydia—or that he won’t be in London to defend her honor.

Mrs. Gardiner desires to return home. She wonders about Mr. Darcy, never having approached the subject with Elizabeth. Elizabeth feels worse about Lydia’s possible ruin because of her feelings about Mr. Darcy.

Mr. Bennet remains composed. He doesn’t’ speak about Lydia. When Elizabeth ventures the topic, he reveals that he blames himself. He believes Lydia is in London. He regrets not taking Elizabeth’s advice. He vows to be stricter with Kitty, which distresses her.

Jane Austen