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Mr. Collins regales his cousins with long accounts of his patron and her estate. He boasts of his skill at making compliments that elegant ladies such as Lady Catherine like to hear. Mr. Bennet slyly asks whether he plans these flatteries in advance. Mr. Collins acknowledges that he does, but he takes care not to let them sound artificial. The chapter continues in a comic vein.
Mr. Collins reveals that Lady Catherine has urged him to marry. He asks Mrs. Bennet if Jane, the oldest daughter, is available. She tells him that Jane is likely soon to be engaged, and he quickly turns his attentions to Elizabeth. Unsuspecting, Elizabeth is polite to him as she would be to any guest. He accompanies the young ladies on their walk to town.
Here another new character enters the story. The good-looking, charming Mr. Wickham has joined the regiment and is walking with his officer friends. They meet the young ladies from Longbourn. While this is going on, Bingley and Darcy ride up to greet the Bennet party, and Elizabeth witnesses a strange encounter. Darcy and Wickham see each other, both give a start of recognition, but with cold looks and slight nods they barely acknowledge knowing each other.
NOTE: With the introduction of Wickham, the thread of a new subplot begins. The pace of the narrative quickens and suspense is added.