The Malefactor HTML version
I.11. Professor Sinclair's Dancing Academy
Mr. Sinclair, or as he preferred to be called, Professor Sinclair, waved a white kid glove
in the direction of the dancing hall.
"This way, ladies and gentlemen!" he announced. "A beautiful valse just about to
commence. Tickets, if you please! Ah! Glad to see you, Miss Cullingham! You'll find--a
friend of yours inside!"
There was a good deal of giggling as the girls came out from the little dressing room and
joined their waiting escorts, who stood in a line against the wall, mostly struggling with
refractory gloves. Mr. Sinclair, proprietor of the West Islington Dancing Academy, and
host of these little gatherings--for a consideration of eighteenpence--did his best, by a
running fire of conversation, to set everyone at their ease. He wore a somewhat rusty
frock coat, black trousers, a white dress waistcoat, and a red tie. Evening dress was not
DE RIGUEUR! The money at the door, and that everyone should behave as ladies and
gentlemen, were the only things insisted upon.
Mr. Sinclair's best smile and most correct bow was suddenly in evidence.
"Mademoiselle Violet!" he exclaimed to a lady who came in alone, "we are enchanted.
We feared that you had deserted us. There is a young gentleman inside who is going to be
made very happy. One shilling change, thank you. Won't you step into the cloak room?"
The lady shook her head.
"If you don't mind, Mr. Sinclair," she said, "I would rather keep my hat and veil on. I can
only stay for a few minutes. Is Mr. Richardson here, do you know? Ah! I can see him."
She stepped past the Professor into the little dancing hall. A young lady was pounding
upon a piano, a boy at her side was playing the violin. A few couples were dancing, but
most of the company was looking on. The evening was young, and Mr. Sinclair, who
later on officiated as M.C., had not yet made his attack upon the general shyness. The
lady known as Mademoiselle Violet paused and looked around her. Suddenly she caught
sight of a pale, anemic-looking youth, who was standing apart from the others, lounging
against the wall. She moved rapidly towards him.
"How do you do, Mr. Richardson?" she said, holding out her hand.
He started, and a sudden rush of color streamed into his cheeks. He took her hand
awkwardly, and he was almost speechless with nervousness.
"I don't believe you're at all glad to see me!" she remarked.