Wickham does not attend the dance, to Elizabeth's disappointment, but Mr. Denny lets her know that it is because he wishes to avoid a "certain gentleman."
Elizabeth is so disappointed that she has trouble being polite to Mr. Darcy when he approaches her. However, when Darcy asks her to dance, she is so taken aback that she says yes.
By the time they hit the dance floor, however, she has recovered her confidence enough to make snide little remarks. Darcy barely talks, so Elizabeth suggests that the two of them are similar – both of them love being unsociable and only talk if everyone will be amazed by their comment.
Darcy recognizes her sarcasm and tells her that it's a very inaccurate picture of her character. He's not sure it describes him either, although she undoubtedly thinks it does.
Elizabeth can't help but mention her new acquaintance, Mr. Wickham. She's gratified that it seems to embarrass Mr. Darcy, who says that Mr. Wickham has qualities that enable him to make friends but not to retain them.
Elizabeth refers to the fact that Wickham has lost Mr. Darcy's friendship, and isn't that just so sad?
After the dance, Miss Bingley lets Elizabeth know that she should not trust everything Mr. Wickham says and that Mr. Darcy did not mistreat Mr. Wickham – the reverse is in fact true.
Right – like Elizabeth is going to believe Miss Bingley.
Jane asks Mr. Bingley about it. He vouches for his friend's character, although he doesn't know anything about the Wickham story.
Mr. Collins discovers that Lady Catherine's nephew is at the ball. Although Elizabeth discourages him from approaching Mr. Darcy to introduce himself, he does so anyway.
From Elizabeth's perspective, Mr. Darcy is civil but disdainful to the man; Mr. Collins, however, is perfectly satisfied with the reception he receives.
Mrs. Bennet boasts loudly about her daughter's prospects of marrying Mr. Bingley – in range of Mr. Darcy's hearing. Elizabeth tries to hush her mother up, but she won't listen.
Elizabeth is ashamed, observing that her mother's conversation and gossip disgusts Mr. Darcy.
Then, to make matters worse, her sister Mary sings not one but two songs – and she's mediocre, at best.
To top things off, Mr. Collins makes a loud speech about the duties of a clergyman and how it is always in good form to testify his respect towards anybody connected with his benefactress's (Lady Catherine's) family.
Elizabeth wonders if her family could have embarrassed her any more. She is glad Jane and Mr. Bingley haven't noticed, but she realizes that Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley's sisters have, which is bad enough.
As they leave, Mrs. Bennet invites the Bingleys to visit them at Longbourn, especially Mr. Bingley, who says he will come as soon as possible.
Mrs. Bennet leaves with the comfortable assurance that Jane will be married to Mr. Bingley within a few months and that Elizabeth will soon be married to Mr. Collins.