Chapter forty begins with Elizabeth confessing to Jane Mr. Darcy's proposal and the truth of Wickham's character. The most important point coming out of the exchange is the decision to not tell anyone else of the latter's perfidy. We are then treated to some customary, but nevertheless entertaining, nonsense from Mrs. Bennet:
"Well, Lizzy," said Mrs. Bennet one day, "what is your opinion now of this sad business of Jane's? For my part, I am determined never to speak of it again to anybody. I told my sister Philips so the other day. But I cannot find out that Jane saw any thing of him in London. Well, he is a very undeserving young man -- and I do not suppose there is the least chance in the world of her ever getting him now. There is no talk of his coming to Netherfield again in the summer; and I have enquired of every body, too, who is likely to know."Chapter forty-one shift attention to Mr. Bennet's foolishness. Lydia receives an invitayion from Mrs. Firster to join the regiment in Brighton, and Mr. Bennet refuses to heed Elizabteh's warnings against letting her go:
"I do not believe that he will ever live at Netherfield any more."
"Oh, well! it is just as he chooses. Nobody wants him to come. Though I shall always say that he used my daughter extremely ill; and if I was her, I would not have put up with it. Well, my comfort is, I am sure Jane will die of a broken heart, and then he will be sorry for what he has done."
"Do not make yourself uneasy, my love. Wherever you and Jane are known, you must be respected and valued; and you will not appear to less advantage for having a couple of -- or I may say, three -- very silly sisters. We shall have no peace at Longbourn if Lydia does not go to Brighton. Let her go then. Colonel Forster is a sensible man, and will keep her out of any real mischief; and she is luckily too poor to be an object of prey to any body. At Brighton she will be of less importance, even as a common flirt, than she has been here. The officers will find women better worth their notice. Let us hope, therefore, that her being there may teach her her own insignificance. At any rate, she cannot grow many degrees worse without authorizing us to lock her up for the rest of her life."His words prove far too close to the reality.
Chapter forty-two begins with reflections on the problems in the Bennets marriage (which I really would like to dwell on more, but there just isn't enough time), the first time any explanation is attempted of tehir ill-suited union, and takes Elizabeth away from this scene of unhappy domesticity, as she heads withe Gardiners north in their curtailed travel plans, now bent on Derbyshire rather than the Lakes. Elziabeth is complacent reagrding this change in plans, until the notion unfolds to visit Pemeberley:
Elizabeth said no more -- but her mind could not acquiesce. The possibility of meeting Mr. Darcy, while viewing the place, instantly occurred. It would be dreadful! She blushed at the very idea; and thought it would be better to speak openly to her aunt than to run such a risk. But against this there were objections; and she finally resolved that it could be the last resource, if her private enquiries as to the absence of the family were unfavourably answered.And with that, volume two concludes.
Accordingly, when she retired at night, she asked the chambermaid whether Pemberley were not a very fine place, what was the name of its proprietor, and, with no little alarm, whether the family were down for the summer. A most welcome negative followed the last question -- and her alarms being now removed, she was at leisure to feel a great deal of curiosity to see the house herself; and when the subject was revived the next morning, and she was again applied to, could readily answer, and with a proper air of indifference, that she had not really any dislike to the scheme.
To Pemberley, therefore, they were to go.