Elizabeth realizes that her opinion of Darcy has changed so completely that if he were to propose to her again, she would accept. She understands, however, that, given Lydia’s embarrassing behavior and the addition of Wickham to the Bennet family, such a proposal seems extremely unlikely.
Mr. Gardiner writes to Mr. Bennet again to inform him that Wickham has accepted a commission in the North of England. Lydia asks to be allowed to visit her family before she goes north with her new husband. After much disagreement, the Bennets allow the newlyweds to stay at their home. The ten-day visit is difficult: Lydia is oblivious to all of the trouble that she has caused, and Wickham behaves as if he has done nothing wrong. One morning while sitting with Jane and Elizabeth, Lydia describes her wedding and mentions that Darcy was in the church. Elizabeth is amazed and sends a letter to Mrs. Gardiner asking for details.
Mrs. Gardiner replies to Elizabeth that it was Darcy who found Lydia and Wickham, and Darcy who paid Wickham the money that facilitated the marriage. She drops hints that Darcy did so because of his love for Elizabeth. Elizabeth’s surprise is immense, and she is unsure whether to be upset or pleased.
After Wickham and Lydia depart for their new home in the North, news arrives that Bingley is returning to Netherfield Park for a few weeks. Mr. Bennet refuses to visit him, much to the family’s discomfort. Three days after his arrival at Netherfield, however, Bingley comes to the Bennets’s home, accompanied by Darcy. Mrs. Bennet is overly attentive to Bingley and quite rude to Darcy, completely unaware that he was the one who saved Lydia. Before departing, the gentlemen promise to dine at Longbourn soon.
Darcy and Bingley come to dinner; Bingley places himself next to Jane and pays her much attention while Darcy finds a seat at the opposite end of the table from Elizabeth, rendering conversation between the two impossible. Elizabeth accepts that having been refused by her once, Darcy will not ask her to marry him again.
Bingley visits the Bennets a few days later, and Mrs. Bennet invites him to dinner. He tells her that he is already engaged for the day but eagerly accepts an invitation for the following day. He calls so early in the morning that he arrives before the women have gotten dressed. After the meal, Mrs. Bennet manages (clumsily) to leave Bingley alone with Jane but he does not propose. The following day, however, Bingley goes shooting with Mr. Bennet and stays for dinner. After the meal, he finds himself alone with Jane again. This time, he tells her that he will ask Mr. Bennet for permission to marry her. Mr. Bennet happily agrees and Jane tells Elizabeth that she is “the happiest creature in the world.”