Long story short: Lydia is to be married to Wickham after all.
There are debts to be discharged, and Mr Bennet has to pay the Wickhams £100 per year during his life, and settle £50 per year on Lydia in his will, and then the marriage will proceed. The very sensible Gardiners have taken control of Lydia for the time being, and she is now staying with them and will be married out of their house - she can't return to Longbourn and get married there.
Mr Bennet is positively snippy in this chapter, and the rather obvious reason is that he has been of no use whatsoever. He didn't rein his daughter in when he had a chance, he wasn't the one to find her, and, given the fact that Wickham has been brought to heel (given that he had not, in fact, intended to ever marry Lydia, as Mr Gardiner notes in his letter), he hasn't even been the one to pay Wickham off.
Mr Bennet believes that Mr Wickham would be a fool for marrying (a now-ruined) Lydia for a farthing less than £10,000. He - and the rest of the Bennets - are positive that Mr Gardiner has ponied up the cash to bring about the wedding, though, as Jane remarks, "Though our kind uncle has done something towards clearing him, I cannot believe that ten thousand pounds, or any thing like it, has been advanced. He has children of his own, and may have more. How could he spare half ten thousand pounds?"
Mrs Bennet again proves herself a complete fool. She's delighted that her sixteen-year old daughter is going to be married and anxious to get to town to spread the news as soon as possible.
Elizabeth and Jane are pleased that Lydia's situation has worked out as best as possible. Not that she's not still a complete scandal, but it's now of the sort that will blow over and not permanently taint the entire family. Jane believes that Wickham must actually love Lydia and that they'll be happy as clams; she wants to forget all about the scandalous conduct. Elizabeth refuses to forget and forgive, but is relieved that things are being resolved - even if it means her sister is saddled with a wastrel.
Tomorrow: Chapter 50
Back to Chapter 48