We Begin the Beguine

parts of the violin labeled

“Does our Miss Emma believe in fate?” Dance asks.

Emma rubs her eyes, looks up from the stack of grant application paperwork. “What are you talking about?”

“Does Miss Emma ever pray for good luck, as some of the ladies of the Metro do before a performance?” Dance asks. He is reading sheets of music, and marking changes in careful details from his scribbled session notes. He has a lot of them. Conductor Richard Young must have been on a roll that afternoon.

“Nooo,” Emma says, amused. The sardonic editor in the back of her head remarks, Only because it takes too much to make you ask. You haven’t been on hard times that bad in the last two years Dance has been living here. She blinks it away and says, “What brings this up?”

“Maestro Young was yelling when somebody new walked in on our practice. This guest waved hello at us and sat down to watch. Of course Young has his instinct for patrons. But this one witness simply shut off Young’s temper. There was much speculation.”

“What’d he look like, this new guy?”

“Oh, we didn’t see him very well. Not well enough to gossip. Tall,  big.  Freckle, red hairs, sports guy with a beard, going gray. Good-natured.”

“Probably not one of our regular patrons. I’ll check it out,” Emma says absently, her eyes going back to her papers. She doesn’t look at Dance again until she’s sure he’s preoccupied with his notes. But she smiles a little. So Dance doesn’t think he got a good enough look?

When he glances up with an inquiring gaze, she blinks innocently at him. Maybe Dance isn’t as preoccupied as she thought. “Not luck,” she says, dead-pan, “I believe in planning.”

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