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The mood again changes as new characters, the Gardiners, enter the story. They come with their children to spend Christmas at Longbourn. Edward Gardiner is Mrs. Bennet's brother, but he is not at all like her or like his other sister, the good-natured but vulgar Mrs. Philips. He is dignified, gentlemanly, and sensible. His wife, somewhat younger, is both intelligent and elegant, and she is very close to her two oldest nieces. She invites Jane to return with them for a stay in London, pointing out, however, that since they live in an unfashionable quarter of the city it is unlikely she will meet Mr. Bingley.
Mrs. Gardiner meets Wickham. She spent some girlhood years in the neighborhood of the Darcy estate of Pemberley, and she enjoys recalling stories of that part of the country with him. Elizabeth tells her of Darcy's treatment of Wickham, and she tries to remember what she may have heard of Darcy's character. She believes she may have heard of him as a very proud, ill-natured boy.
In a confidential moment between Elizabeth and her aunt, Mrs. Gardiner cautions Elizabeth against falling in love with Wickham, a man with no fortune. Elizabeth at first laughs off the advice. Then, turning serious, she promises to do her best to be wise.
NOTE: Mrs. Gardiner is the only person Elizabeth has accepted advice from on this subject.
Charlotte comes, after her wedding, to say goodbye. Her father and her younger sister Maria are to visit her in her new home, and she invites Elizabeth to come with them. To the reader this raises interesting possibilities, because Mr. Collins's parsonage is on the edge of Lady Catherine's estate, and Lady Catherine is Mr. Darcy's aunt.
Jane writes from London. She has seen Miss Bingley, and she is at last convinced that Elizabeth is right.
Elizabeth learns that Wickham is interested in a young woman who has just inherited some money, but she excuses this as simple prudence, forgetting that she did not excuse Charlotte's prudence in marrying Mr. Collins. She is still letting her prejudice against Darcy influence her judgment of Wickham.