Flavia limped slowly to the door of the dance studio, casting a baleful glance over her shoulder at Kenneth. The other couples stood around awkwardly.
Madame Rousillon sighed and pushed her spectacles wearily into her polished black top-knot. Flavia was her best dancer, and was ear-marked for Saturday’s show. Hopefully she’d recover in time.
“Remind me if you would, Mr Lewis, why you so desperately want to learn to dance?”
Kenneth sighed, and went through it again.
“It’s for Rosie, my wife,” he said. “She’s always been on at me to go dancing and I’ve always said no. It’s never been my thing. But now she’s started going dancing on her own. Well not on her own, with her friend. At first it was just once a week but now it’s three or four nights a week. I’m worried I’m losing her, so I thought I’d make an effort.”
Madame looked at him keenly, saw his colour rising.
“I’m very sorry about Flavia,” he said, “and about the lady last week. Katrina, wasn’t it?”
Madame Rousillon nodded. “Katrina’s much better now,” she said carefully, “but she can’t make Tuesdays any more.”
“I could change my evening,” Kenneth said helpfully, “I’m on my own quite a lot now so it wouldn’t be a problem.”
“Er no… that won’t be necessary,” said Madame Rousillon, remembering Katrina’s response when asked to come back to partner Kenneth. Phrases like “when hell freezes over” and “in a pigs ear, I will” stuck in Madame’s mind.
“Will Flavia be all right for next week?” Kenneth asked plaintively. “I’m getting used to her now.”
Madame doubted Flavia would ever contemplate a foray into Mr Lewis’s arms again, even if her foot had recovered sufficiently.
“We’ll just have to see,” said Madame. “Same time next week.”
Kenneth sighed, and went to find his coat. Despite her exasperation with his lack of dancing ability, Madame felt sorry for him. He looked like a man with more serious problems than simply two left feet.
When Kenneth turned up the following week, there were only two cars parked outside, neither of them Flavia’s. None of the usual couples were in the studio either, but Madame was talking to a pleasant little woman, who looked up nervously when Kenneth walked in.
“Ah Mr Lewis,” said Madame, “let me introduce you to Stella Robinson. She’s my new neighbour, just recently arrived in the town, and doesn’t know many people here. She’ll be your dancing partner for the next few weeks. She’s about your standard, so I’ve decided to give the pair of you my individual attention. I’ve switched the other pairs to a later class.”
By the end of the evening Kenneth’s feet were just as sore as Stella’s, and both were equally relieved when the class was over.
“I’m not very good, am I?” Stella said, colouring up.
“Oh it’s not your fault, Stella, the fault is entirely mine,” Kenneth said gallantly. “I’ll see you again next week then.”
After a few months Stella and Kenneth’s dancing ability had improved only marginally, but by now they were the firmest of friends. The pair of them often went for a drink after the class and clearly enjoyed each other’s company.
Madame watched their blossoming friendship with interest and satisfaction.
Just as she had watched the blooming romance between one Rosie Lewis, a talented young dancer on the professional dancing circuit, and her handsome young partner.
Madame had no doubt that storm clouds were looming in the Lewis household, but she had done her best to help Kenneth to weather the coming months.
She had also helped a rather lonely new neighbour to pick up the reins of a social life once more.
And she had saved the professional careers of two of her most promising dancers.
There was nothing Madame liked better than finding one solution to several problems at the same time.