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Chapters 47 and 48

Chapter 47

On the ride home, Mr. Gardiner encourages them to think positively. He suggests that they could very well be married, as Lydia is not na´ve enough to consent to live with him without a marriage. Lizzy admits it is shocking, but that Lydia has never been very prudent or virtuous. Her behavior has only worsened since the officers' arrival in Meryton, and the charming Wickham could very well have deceived her. She hints that Wickham has wronged the Darcy family and spread lies about them, and that he is a much worse person than anyone really knows.
Lizzy thinks of nothing else the entire two days it takes to get back to Longbourn. Upon arrival, the Gardiner children are the only people in good spirits. Mr. Bennet has already left for town, and Mrs. Bennet has not left her room in days. They visit Mrs. Bennet in her room, who is tearful and full of regret, blaming everyone for the affair except herself. She claims that if Mr. Bennet had let them all go to Brighton, the entire thing never would have happened. Mr. Gardiner assures her that they will find the couple and everything will be fine, and she thanks him and tells him to make the pair get married if they are not yet husband and wife. When Lizzy and Jane are alone together later that day, Lizzy pesters her sister for details. Jane offers the doubts of numerous participants that Wickham has no plans to marry their sister, and the fact that Lydia had hinted at her elopement in her last letter to Kitty. Apparently, Colonel Fitzwilliam admitted some serious doubts of Wickham's character to the family, including that he left several debts in Meryton. Again, Lizzy worries that she could have prevented the situation by going public with her knowledge. Jane then produces the letter Lydia left for Mrs. Forster. It is written in a playful, haughty tone, and reveals that Lydia believed they were to travel to Scotland and that her last name would soon be Wickham. She offers no apologies or regrets, and Elizabeth is shamed by her thoughtlessness. She can only imagine what gossip has to say about their family. Finally, Lizzy asks what their father plans to do to find Wickham. Jane explains that he will try to locate the various coaches they have traveled in, but that their father had been in such a hurry, not much was known of his plan at all.

Chapter 48

Despite the family's anticipation, no letter arrives the next morning from Mr. Bennet. Having waited only for such a letter, Mr. Gardiner departs. Mrs. Gardiner and her children remain at Longbourn for a few more days to help the family. Gossip of Lydia and Wickham has made its way all over Meryton, and everyone in town does their best to discredit the man they once valued above all others. A few days after Mr. Gardiner leaves, a letter arrives from him saying he has written to Colonel Forster, asking about any friends or family who might conceal Wickham within the city, and that if they know anyone who would have such information, they should pass it along. He hints that Lizzy might be able to find such information. A note from Mr. Collins also arrives. He offers his condolences, and says that Lydia's death would have been an easier cross to bear. He reveals that he has told Lady Catherine of the affair, and that they all agree that the other sisters will be just as disgraced as Lydia by the indiscretion, for "who will connect themselves with such a family?" He urges the Bennets to disown Lydia, and leave her to wallow in her mistakes alone. The next letter that arrives is from Mr. Gardiner, who says he has heard back from Colonel Forster, and Wickham apparently has no friends left in town, and no one to hide him. The colonel has also discovered Wickham's devastating debts in Brighton, which were astonishing. Finally, Mr. Gardiner admits that Mr. Bennet is in bad spirits and will probably return home soon, leaving the search to himself alone. When Mrs. Bennet hears the news, she is angrier at her husband for abandoning their daughter than at the very daughter who caused all the problems. Mrs. Gardiner and her children then decide to leave, and Mr. Bennet returns to Longbourn.
Elizabeth admits to herself that her affection for Darcy makes Lydia's indiscretions much harder to bear. She avoids talking of the Lydia situation with her father, but eventually mentions it, and is surprised to find out that her father blames himself. He feels he should have listened to Lizzy when she warned him not to let the impetuous Lydia go to Brighton alone.

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Chapters 1, 2, and 3
Chapters 4, 5, and 6
Chapters 7 and 8
Chapters 9 ,10, and 11
Chapters 12, 13, and 14
Chapters 15 and 16
Chapters 17, 18, and 19
Chapters 20, 21, and 22
Chapters 23, 24, and 25
Chapters 26, 27, and 28
Chapters 29, 30, and 31
Chapters 32, 33, and 34
Chapter 35
Chapters 36, 37, and 38
Chapters 39 and 40
Chapters 41 and 42
Chapters 43 and 44
Chapters 45 and 46
Chapters 47 and 48
Chapters 49 and 50
Chapters 51 and 52
Chapters 53, 54, and 55
Chapters 56 and 57
Chapters 58 and 59
Chapters 60 and 61


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