Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version | Barron's Booknotes
The next day the girls meet Mr. Wickham in Meryton. He tells Elizabeth that his absence from the Netherfield ball was self- imposed, for he wished to avoid an ugly scene with Darcy. After the girls return home, Jane receives a letter from Caroline Bingley; she informs her that everyone is leaving Netherfield, and they are unlikely to return that winter. Caroline also hints that her brother admires Darcy’s sister and that she hopes that they will be married. Jane is crestfallen over the news in the letter, but her dashed hopes are lifted by Elizabeth, who says that Miss Bingley simply wishes to keep her brother away from Jane.
Wickham meets Elizabeth again and tells her that he stayed away from the ball to avoid a scene with Darcy. Elizabeth is full of sympathy for him and fails to realize that Wickham has earlier mentioned that he would never intentionally avoid Darcy; she is unable to see the falseness of his character.
A twist in the plot is provided by Caroline Bingley’s letter, which informs the Bennets that the whole family is leaving Netherfield and will not return that winter. The departure is a definite setback to Mrs. Bennet’s match-making; it also upsets Jane. Elizabeth is puzzled by the abrupt departure and rightly suspects that it has been maneuvered by the Bingley sisters.