Pride and Prejudice: Novel Summary: Chapters 21-24

Chapter 21: Mr. Collins begins to ignore Elizabeth, and his attentions are transferred to Miss Lucas.  After breakfast, the girls walk to Meryton and meet Wickham, who tells Elizabeth that he was not at the ball because he did not want to be in the same room as Darcy for so long.  When they return home, a letter is delivered to Jane, which quite distresses her.  She tells Elizabeth that it is from Caroline Bingley, and that the entire party has left Netherfield for London, and that they do not intend to return again.  Later in the letter Caroline says that all are anxious to see Miss Darcy again, as Louisa (Mrs. Hurst) and she are hoping for a marriage between her and Bingley. Jane is quite upset about this, as she had held hopes of marrying Bingley, and now she finds out that Bingleys sisters want him to marry another.  Elizabeth tries to convince Jane that Bingley is indeed in love with her, and that this other marriage is just something that the sisters are trying to devise. Jane does not believe that the sisters could be so deceiving and that they must only want the happiness of their brother.
Chapter 22: The next day the Bennets dine with the Lucases, and Elizabeth is grateful to Charlotte for attending to Collins.  It soon becomes evident though, that Charlotte is doing it in order to engage Collins admiration for herself.  The two are engaged to be married in a short time, and when Charlotte tells Elizabeth, she cannot believe it.  She feels that it is a mistake for Charlotte to marry Collins, and that she will not be happy.  Mr. Collins returns to his parish, saying that he will return soon.
Chapter 23: Sir William calls on the Bennets to announce the engagement of his daughter to Collins, and now it is Mrs. Bennets turn to think it impossible, but the family is soon convinced.  The relationship between Elizabeth and Charlotte changes, as Elizabeth feels that here can be no real confidence between them any longer.  Mrs. Bennet is concerned by the removal of the Bingleys from Netherfield, and continues to wonder when they will return, which upsets Jane.  Elizabeth fears that Bingleys sisters will be successful in keeping him away from Jane.  Mr. Collins returns to Longbourn for a visit so that he can spend time with Charlotte.
Chapter 24: Jane receives another letter from Miss Bingley, stating that they will indeed stay in London all winter.  Mrs. Bennet continues to speak of Bingley, and Jane confides to Elizabeth how much pain it brings her.  Elizabeth continues to speak against the marriage of Charlotte and Collins to Jane, and continues to insist that it must be the influence of Bingleys sisters and Darcy that keeps Bingley away from Jane.  The Bennet family has many meetings with Wickham, and the story of Darcys abuse of him is now publicly known.