As they head back home, the Gardiners try to put the best face on the situation.
They say Wickham can't possibly mean not to marry Lydia. Could he expect the regiment not to take action for such an offense?
Still, Elizabeth is not convinced. She knows Wickham will never marry a woman who has no money. She reveals to the Gardiners that she knows more about Wickham than she has let anybody know, and she has good reason to believe that he has no scruples to speak of.
At home, Mrs. Bennet is inconsolable and throwing fits, believing that Mr. Bennet will fight Wickham and die, and then the Collinses will turn them all out of the house.
Mr. Gardiner assures her that he will go to London immediately to help Mr. Bennet find Lydia.
Kitty and Mary are grave but not as distressed. Mary only says that they can learn moral lessons about female virtue from Lydia's downfall.
Jane and Elizabeth repeat the rumors they've heard from Wickham's superiors and friends. They try to guess whether Lydia and Wickham might actually have gotten married or not.
They note that Wickham's superior spoke less highly of Wickham than he had in the past and that it is said that he left Meryton in debt.
They examine Lydia's letter and are relieved to realize that she, at least, had serious intentions to get married, whatever Wickham's