After playing some Italian songs, Miss Bingley varied the charm by a lively Scotch air; and soon afterwards Mr. Darcy, drawing near Elizabeth, said to her --
"Do not you feel a great inclination, Miss Bennet, to seize such an opportunity of dancing a reel?"
She smiled, but made no answer. He repeated the question, with some surprise at her silence.
Elizabeth was not sure how to answer. She certainly had no wish to dance with Mr. Darcy, but she also did not wish to give offense, and the lively music did make her feel like dancing. Tomorrow, perhaps, Jane would be well enough to come to the drawing room; if she danced with Darcy now, would not Bingley take up the idea tomorrow and dance with Jane? It was an excellent notion!
"Certainly," she replied, standing up and moving to the most open part of the room then looking at him in expectation. Darcy looked at her with astonishment. Miss Bingley suddenly stopped playing to stare at her. Mr. Hurst woke up and was looking at her with derision. His wife was smirking and glancing at her sister. Even Mr. Bingley looked at her in stunned silence, not sure what to do.
Darcy stood slowly from the sofa, but remained in his place as he asked incredulously, "You cannot seriously mean to dance?"
"Why not? It was your idea. Did not you ask me to dance, sir?"
"I only asked whether the lively music inclines you to dance."
"Well the music has stopped now," replied Elizabeth, shooting a glance at Miss Bingley. "I suppose I had better check on my sister." Then looking at Mr. Bingley she added, "Perhaps tomorrow evening may be more suitable for dancing, when she is well enough to join us." This brought a smile to Bingley's face. Having accomplished thus much, Elizabeth turned on her heel and left the room.
Darcy watched her go without regret. He realized she was less unlike her two youngest sisters than he had thought. To expect to dance a reel at such a time and under such circumstances! The very notion was ridiculous. He had intended to engage in some flirty banter, sure, but to actually stand up and dance, alone, was the height of absurdity!
His eyes were opened. He no longer found her attractive! Nay the very idea of dancing with her was now repulsive. The next morning, while walking in the shrubbery with Miss Bingley, she said, "I can scarcely believe she was so ready to jump up and actually dance a reel with you yesterday. Though, I suppose I should not be surprised. It is probably due to the diligent training of her mother!"
"I never expected such a thing. That she could really think I meant to dance, was quite shocking. I had thought her more discerning than that."
"Well there is no reason you cannot still admire her fine eyes, if nothing else!"
"No, no," said Darcy with a half-smile, "I can assure you the events of last evening have cured me of any admiration of Miss Elizabeth Bennet."
"Well, that is a relief," said Miss Bingley, tightening her grip on his arm.
At that moment they were met from another walk, by Mrs. Hurst and Elizabeth herself. Mr. Darcy offered Mrs. Hurst his other arm and as the the three walked away from Elizabeth, he was thinking how suitable Miss Bingley would be as Mistress of Pemberley.