Pride and Prejudice: Novel Summary: Chapters 49-52

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Chapter 49: Two days after Mr. Bennet returns, a letter comes from Mr. Gardiner saying that he has found Lydia and Wickham.  They are not married, and there was no intention of being married.  He states that Wickham will marry Lydia for an equal share of the five thousand pounds due the Bennet daughters after the death of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet and one hundred pounds a year.  Elizabeth can't believe that Wickham will marry Lydia, and Mr. Bennet is ashamed that Wickham has asked so little.  He states that he wants to know how much additional money Mr. Gardiner has laid down, and wonders how he will pay him back.  It then becomes clear to Elizabeth that her uncle must indeed have also given Wickham money.  Elizabeth takes the letter up to her mother and reads it to her and Mary and Kitty.  Immediately Mrs. Bennet forgets about all of her shame and starts to plan the wedding clothes.  She also wants to go and tell the news to Mrs. Phillips and Lady Lucas.
Chapter 50: Mr. Bennet is sorry that he did not save more during his lifetime to provide for his daughters.  He and Mrs. Bennet had always assumed that they would have a son and that their property would not be entailed away.  However, Bennet is determined to find out how much money his brother-in-law put forward to help Lydia and pay him back.  He sends a letter to Gardiner accepting the terms of Wickham and asking him how much he is indebted to him.  Mrs. Bennet comes downstairs (after staying in her room distressed while Lydia was missing) to plan the wedding and the future of her daughter.  Mr. Bennet amazes her by saying that Lydia and Wickham will not be welcome in their house, and that he will not advance any money to buy his daughter wedding clothes. 
Elizabeth is sorry that she had told Darcy of the matter with her sister.  While she is not afraid that he will keep it secret, she fears that the behavior of her sister will make her and Jane and the rest of her family seem even more inferior in his eyes.  Now that it was not likely that she and Darcy should meet again, Elizabeth has convinced herself that she could be happy with him.  "She began to comprehend that he was exactly the man, who, in disposition and talents, would most suit her." Mr. Bennet receives a return letter from Mr. Gardiner assuring that he was happy to do what he could for his niece, and asking that the matter not be brought up again.  He also writes that Wickham intends to remove himself from the corps and go into the regulars, which are quartered in the North.  Jane and Elizabeth talk their father into changing his mind and accepting Lydia in their home, so it is decided that Wickham and Lydia will visit Longbourn after their wedding before they set off for the North.
Chapter 51: After they are married, Lydia and Wickham come to Longbourn and are met with rapture by Mrs. Bennet.  Mr. Bennet is not quite so cordial, and Elizabeth and Jane are surprised by Lydia's lack of embarrassment.  Lydia goes on and on about how happy she is and what a wonderful marriage she has made, until Elizabeth can take no more and must leave the room.  Lydia says, "I am sure my sisters must all envy me.  I only hope they may have half my good luck." Lydia says that she will invite her sisters to the North for that purpose, but Elizabeth says, " I thank you for my share of the favour, but I do not particularly like your way of getting husbands." Even though Elizabeth had rather not hear about it, Lydia tells her about the events of her wedding day, including that Mr. Darcy was at her wedding.  Elizabeth is shocked at the mention of him, but Lydia will say no more, as she has remembered that she had promised him and Wickham not to say anything about his presence.  Elizabeth can of course think of nothing other than what he could be doing there, and sends off a letter to Mrs. Gardiner asking her about it.
Chapter 52: Elizabeth receives a prompt reply from her aunt, from which she learns that Mr. Darcy had gone to London, found Lydia and Wickham, and reported to her uncle as soon as her father had left the city.  Her aunt also tells her that it is Darcy who has paid for Wickham to marry Lydia, but that he had wanted Mr. Gardiner to take the credit and for his part in the matter to be kept secret.  As explanation of his actions, Darcy states that he feels guilty for not exposing Wickham for what he was before a situation such as this occurred.  Elizabeth suspects that while this may have been his true motive, his affection for her may have also been part of it.

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