Twenty minutes later and they were standing outside a polished door. "And this is your room," said Mr Conor, pushing the door open, but before Maria could get a good look at the inside he had closed it again, and was handing her a map of the building. "We are here," he said, labelling her room with a biro. "My office is here, the showers are here, and the dining room is here. We'll be in the littlest studio for classes, which is here."
"Right. Anything else I need to know?"
"Dinner tonight will be at seven. Down in the lounge there are a couple of computers with internet; feel free to use them, or if you want to walk around the grounds you're welcome. Lights out at ten, if you don't feel like going to bed earlier. I know it's early, but it's summer camp rules - you'll need the sleep for tomorrow. As for what you need to know, it's more about whether you've got any questions.
Maria thought for a moment. "You said I'll be working hard. I'm fine with that, but I'll get sweaty, won't I? And I've only got one leotard and one pair of tights, so after a couple of days..."
"Okay, this is the laundry." Mr Conor circled it for her on the map. "You can use that for your normal clothes. If you come with me, I'll show you the spare dancewear store. You can borrow kit for now. If you get in," and his emphasis made it quite clear that nothing was certain, "you'll have to buy it. But that's a big if." She nodded, and they made their way down the corridor. Another one! The whole building seemed to be nothing but corridors. Corridors and dance studios, that was honestly all it seemed to be.
The spare dancewear store was a large walk-in cupboard with shelves that went to the ceiling, each filled with leotards, tights and shoes. Some were obviously second-hand, while others were still in their wrappings. "This leotard is a size 5, and these tights are a 4, if that helps," contributed Maria, seeing Mr Conor's look.
"It does," he told her, pulling down four packages. "Take these. Two of each. It'll take a couple of days to dry out your own once they're washed, anyway."
"Thank you." They were new. She was glad of that. It wasn't that she was snooty about wearing second-hand clothes - half of hers had belonged to her cousin beforehand anyway, and then she would give them to her other cousin afterwards - but it was nice to know that he cared enough to pick them out for her. "And what shall I do now?"
He looked at his watch. "It's four o'clock. You've got three hours. I tell you what, why don't you come with me? I'm not teaching again today so I'll take a class with you - oh, and I've another pupil that wants some extra help. She's a late starter too, started when she was twelve having never danced a step in her life, and I said I'd help her out. You can learn together."
That sounded a wonderful idea, and Maria agreed very quickly. In a matter of minutes they were inside the small studio, where a girl was already waiting in her dance clothes. "Sorry, I was early," she said. "I thought you wouldn't mind if I came in, since it's a little chilly in the corridors."
"No problem," said Mr Conor. "Now, this is Maria, and she'll be learning with you for a couple of days. She only here until Friday evening but we'll see how we get on with that, shall we? Maria, I forgot to say. This is Eleanor, and she's from Sussex, so not really the same area. Where are you from again?"
"Birmingham," she said softly. She didn't have a Brum accent, but that was only because her parents were Londoners. "I ran away from home to come here." Now she admitted it, even if it was only so that Eleanor would like her. The girl was pretty and slim, and at another school would have surely been a favourite with the boys.
"Yeah. It's not a big deal, though. I'm going home soon..."