Belle of the Ball

Curious, I found myself leaning towards him, too. “Yes…”

“All right, but you must promise not to breathe a word to anyone.”

“Go on! Tell me,” I hissed.

“Well, all right. We have a nickname for her, in the gentleman’s club. We call her the ‘Dragon.’”

Despite myself, I began giggling.

Just then the band resumed their places and began playing a quadrille. It was a lively dance, and I always enjoyed watching watching couples performing it.

Men and women, both young and old, began taking the floor.
“Are you sure you don’t dance, Miss Delacourt?” Lord Windham asked. “Your feet seem to be suggesting the opposite.”

It was true, I was tapping my feet in tune with the beat. But I couldn’t resist – the music was that infectious.

Before I knew what was happening, he was bending over me, his hand outstretched. “Come, let us cement our new friendship. Come dance with me.”

Just then Isabelle and de Grave were passing us, heading towards the dance floor. “Lord Windham, Samantha’s dance card is empty. And I happen to know that Samantha is a genius when it comes to the quadrille. She’s the one who taught me how to dance it!” I frowned at my traitorous cousin. She’d be regretting this later.

But Lord Windham took my hand firmly. “Alas, you’ve been discovered,” he said, as he helped me to my feet.

As we began dancing, I searched the room, looking for Betty. I hadn’t noticed when de Grave had come back. He looked as though he hadn’t a care in the world as he danced with Isabelle. I wondered what he and Betty had talked about in the garden, assuming that Betty had been able to track him down. I wondered where Betty had gone off to -

“Ouch!”

“Oh, I do beg your pardon, Miss Delacourt. But you have been warned of my clumsiness. I trust your foot is, ah, undamaged?”

“Quite,” I responded in a stiff tone that was belied by my smile.

Despite Lord Windham’s avowed clumsiness, he was a skilled dancer, moving with assurance and grace. I found myself disappointed when the dance was over. But then Lord Windham stayed standing in front of me. “I know I’m being dreadfully selfish, but will you dance with me again? That is, if your card doesn’t mind.”

“No, my dance card doesn’t – I mean, I don’t mind, Lord Windham.”

After that dance was over, not one but three men were waiting to ask for the next dance.

“Miss Delacourt, you seem to have become the belle of the ball. I shan’t keep your admirers at bay any longer, for fear that I’ll be engaged in a duel. May I have your dance card?”

“Whatever for?”

“My dear Miss Delacourt, I do believe you are funning with me. Surely you know the function of dance cards. If I don’t pen my name down for another dance now, I probably won’t get the chance again tonight.”

The End

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