All of Meryton spreads rumors about Wickham, although, a few months earlier, they had called him an "angel of light."
Mr. Gardiner writes to say he has tried to find out from Wickham's direct superior if he has any relatives or friends who might hide him in London; on second thought, though, Elizabeth might be in a better position than anybody to give that information.
Elizabeth understands this as a reference to her relationship with Darcy.
They receive a letter from Mr. Collins, who says that Lydia's actions will forever ruin the chance that the other daughters will marry. He congratulates himself on not marrying Elizabeth after all. He suggests that they cut Lydia out of their life forever.
Mr. Gardiner writes to relay the news that things might be worse than feared – Mr. Wickham has left gambling debts of more than a thousand pounds.
Mr. Bennet, heartsick and on his way home from London empty-handed, is convinced there is nothing more he can do. Mr. Gardiner will continue the search.
Elizabeth has heard nothing from Mr. Darcy, a fact that gives her a couple of sleepless nights.
Mrs. Gardiner also wonders about Mr. Darcy, but, given the family tragedy, she can't determine how Elizabeth feels.
Mr. Bennet, on his return, says he has finally learned his lesson to be cautious with his daughters. A little late, Mr. Bennet.