It hadn't gone down well. Oh, don't get me wrong: the audience loved it, on their feet and clapping in time to the music, which was something new in that particular theatre. But Grace and Alexander were absolutely furious, and when they met me at the stage door I rather wished I could sink into the floor and never be seen again.

"What on Earth did you think you were doing? I couldn't believe it when we saw our daughter on that stage, acting like a ... well, I don't know. I'm lost for words. How could you? You have shamed us all." Grace was furious and she didn't mind if every dancer in the school heard it. Margaret fluttered over, still dressed in her costume, and tried to remedy the situation.

"Please, Ma'am, we meant no harm. It was only supposed to be something a little different, since Elizabeth has studied it before. We didn't think anybody would mind, and the audience enjoyed it ..." She stared out at the rapidly clearing theatre. "At least, most of them did."

"My wife didn't ask for your opinion," said Alexander poisonously. "You will be lucky to see Elizabeth again, mark my words: as if we'd let her return to this place of sin, this ballet school that teaches girls to act like drunken sailors and common folk!" His words were harsh enough to make the pretty blonde recoil.

"I'm sorry, sir," she said. "Very sorry." As she hurried away I caught a fleeting glance of the pity and horror on her face. I knew what she was thinking: poor Elizabeth, fancy them taking her away from dancing ... and she could have had a future, she could have been good. Could have been. But I wouldn't be any more.

"Find me that Madame Lejeune of yours," demanded Alexander.

"Yes, Father." It wasn't hard. She was supervising the youngest class as they were dispatched to various governesses, servants and parents, all clutching their shoes and dress bags.

"Alex! What a surprise -- and a pleasure, might I add." They knew each other? I looked from one to the other in some confusion, but the familiarity was obvious straight away. Alexander tried to pretend he didn't know what was going, and looked at me as though to say "What are you looking at?"

"Sinead. So it's you. I should have known, the moment I saw you on stage dancing that ridiculous dance..." He shook his head. "What have you done to my daughter? She's a heathen, and I'll warrant she never was before coming here. Fancy a ballet dancer dancing a hornpipe in front of an audience: ridiculous. I don't know what got into you."

"But Elizabeth isn't a ballet dancer," said Madame Lejeune uncomfortably. "Didn't she tell you? Irish folk dancing, step dancing to give it it's proper name, is what she's been learning for almost two years now. I only continued with the training." With a glance she communicated her disappointment in me; I could hardly bear it, but I forced myself to endure for a full minute. Then I raised my head.

"Madame, please don't let them keep me from dancing. Please make sure Father lets me come to classes." I was practically begging her, my hands clasped. No, I was begging her. I couldn't bear the thought of Victorian life without the distractions.

"I won't let them," she replied forcefully. "But Alexander, dear, you wouldn't think of it?" And from the look on her face, she had him twisted around her little finger. I resolved to do some digging into that particular relationship.

"No, Sinead," he sighed. "I could never stop her, not with you as a teacher." Satisfied, Madame Lejeune took my hand and pulled me towards the large hall backstage where the dancers were congregating.

"Come, Elizabeth," she said, and I came.

The End

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