It was the morning after her audition. Though it had gone well, and Charlie had returned home feeling as light as a feather and sure that she was going to make it into the troupe (her teachers had been startled by the choreography and though they had claimed to need time to consider, she had seen their decision in their eyes), she was in disgrace. Her parents were furious that she had disobeyed them.
"You know you don't have time to join some little dance troupe and spend all your time at training, getting all hot and sweaty and ruining your clothes!" her mother fretted, as the young dancer calmly examined her new blisters, no doubt a product of the week's intensive practice.
Her father had different concerns, though they rested in her mother's mind also. "Where are we meant to find the money for so many classes? We don't have an endless supply of cash, you know!" But Charlie was not concerned about that, either, because she had a plan.
"Firstly, the troupe earns money with every performance. I can't say exactly, but I believe it's around thirty pounds each, for a couple of hours work. Not bad, I'd say." Seeing that they were about to object, she added, "And anyway, I'm going to get a job." But further than that, she refused to say.
When she returned home from school with a surprisingly light load of homework, there was an email waiting for her on the computer. It was from Ben, saying that she had been accepted into the troupe, and informing her of the training times. He also explained that in addition to the two sessions on a Friday and a Saturday respectively, each two hours long, she would be expected to attend her normal three classes. The prices were escalating.
From there, Charlie opened a word document and began composing the notice which she intended to place in the local newspaper. Beginner flute lessons. Absolute beginners to grade 5 taught by young teacher in search of experience. Extremely competitive prices - £5 per half hour. Instruments require prior to first lesson -- one available to hire. Below that, it listed her telephone number and email address.
If she could even manage to get six pupils, Charlie calculated, that would be enough to fund around half of her dance classes. She would be earning £30 a week. That wasn't too bad, was it?
Surprisingly enough -- and given the current economic situation, she had been expecting far few -- she was contacted no fewer than nine times. Six of these were the parents of young children, around eight years old, who could not afford normal lessons and yet wanted their precious daughters and sons to have a musical education. The other three were adults who had never had a chance to start in their youth.
It had to be said that some of these potential pupils were a little put out to discover that she was still at school, but when she explained that she was well up to grade seven standard and needed the experience as a part of her music qualifications, they grudgingly accepted the fact that this was still an absolute bargain. Her Saturday job was made up. £45 each week for four and a half hours work: not bad at all.
"You really don't have time for this," her parents said in despair. "Oh, Charlie, if you keep trying to do so much you'll spontaneously combust!" That was their favourite phrase in situations like this. But the promise of money mollified them, as they really had been wondering if the expense of classes would bankrupt them.
"I'll pay you forty pounds a week," Charlie decided. "The other five pounds I will keep and I'll put it into my bank. You needn't give me any pocket money now." The forty pounds, she reasoned, would cover all but about ten pounds of the weekly dance classes cost, and forty pounds a month was not so much for her parents to pay. They agreed to the deal.
The next day, her time with the Daoine Sidhe began.