It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man who refuses to dance must lack a suitable partner. This could have indeed been the case with Mr. Darcy. Ever since he started toddling on his little legs, his parents had schooled him in dance techniques. By the time he was ten, he could jig as exuberantly as Michael Flatley and execute a turn as gracefully as Baryshnikov. During his travels, he took pains to learn the style of dance unique to each region—he learned the waltz in Vienna, the flamenco in Spain, the ballet in Italy. To these basic techniques, he added personal touches. Before anyone had ever heard of jazz hands, Darcy had developed his own form of this technique. His acquaintances might have called him a man before his time—the John Travolta of the Regency Era—if only he had danced in public.
The truth was, though, that he longed to dance with Elizabeth Bennet, or any other fine lady if he could simply get up his courage. What, then, caused his hesitation? Why did he hide his talent?
The answer, gentle reader, is simple. As Darcy came out more and more into society, it became obvious that a gentleman of his state could not dance with such exuberance. He might appear to be a dandy. Or worse, a flibbertigibbet. A man of his station could hardly appear to cavort in such a way, and it was with no small effort that Darcy refrained from adding his own flare to a simple country dance. Hence, whenever possible, he excused himself from dancing at balls.
Still, the urge to strut his stuff was sometimes overwhelming, especially after long horseback rides or conversations with a certain tiresome aunt. One such occasion occurred after he emerged from a swim in his pond. As he shook the water droplets from his hair, he progressed quite naturally into a shoulder shimmy. Then into a hip rotation. Calling Georgiana from her open window, he beckoned her to come dance with him on the lawn. Both were unaware that Elizabeth Bennet stood watching, concealed in the shade of a tall hedge.
Darcy had no need for music. All the rhythm he needed was in his head. Georgiana ran to him across the lawn, leaping into the air, so he could catch her and lift her high above his head. She kept her body taut with her arms straight to her sides as he tossed her about in the manner of a circus performer twirling a baton. Finally, she slid down the length of his body to stand with her chin to his chest. Together they waltzed about the lawn, turning and twirling in elegant circles.
From her secret observation point, Elizabeth swayed in time to Darcy’s silent melody. Though entrancing, his movements were scandalous, capable of ruining a woman’s reputation in less than a stanza. It was no wonder that Darcy refused to dance with her at that first ball. He had only wanted to protect her from a ruined reputation. Yet, now that she had witnessed the rhythmic genius that was the real Darcy, Elizabeth could hardly refrain from wanting more. She could not, however, allow him to know of her base and carnal desire to waltz with him, much less to leap into his arms and be swung about like a baton. Thus, she turned to the other side of the hedge and made her way back toward the Pemberley estate.
For a few moments, she proceeded while the hedge obstructed her few. Yet, once she passed the hedge, he was immediately before her. With a glance, she saw that he had lost none of his recent civility; and to imitate his politeness, she began to admire the beauty of the place. She had just begun to expound on its suitability for country dances when her colour changed, and she said no more.