The two-step of the 1890s and early 1900s was so simple to dance, and so aggressively condemned by many dancing masters, that it's actually fairly unusual to find a good description of it in a dance manual, though minor variations and sequences of dubious originality and debatable utility abound. English dancing master Edward Scott, in How to dance and guide to the ball-room (London, c1902), provides a rare overview of the basic dance as performed in Edwardian England.
Steps and timing
Scott specifies that the music for the two-step should be in 6/8, and explains that it is "practically our old friend the galop performed with figures, in regulated sequences, and to a different rhythm," though Americans, he claims, apply the name two-step to "any dance founded on the chassé movement, or that in which one foot appears to be chasing the other."
The basic movement of the two-step is a simple slide-close-slide done in 6/8 time. Scott describes it in detail:
The gentleman slides his left foot forward, his weight thrown thereon, and rests for two counts. At the third count he brings his right toe lightly up to the heel of the left, and at the fourth count immediately slides his left foot again forward, stopping on it for the second three counts of the bar. For the next bar he slides his right foot forward, sustaining his balance, while the left toe is brought lightly to the right heel, and the right again slid forward to rest and carry the weight for the next half bar.
The rhythm will be somewhat as if you said “right and right, left and left, etc., the and corresponding to the quick chasing step made with the toe of the opposite foot.
Scott calls this the chassé à trois pas or simply the "chassé movement". The rhythm is typical of jig-time dances and can be charted thus:
* * * * * *
It's generally unnecessary to break down the exact timing of each step in detail; dancers with any ear for rhythm will pick it up instinctively from the accenting of the music.