So there I was, stuck in a lay-by that I had just managed to reach before the wretched car died completely. I should have paid more attention to the temperature gauge but by the time I noticed, it was in the red and the damn thing was losing power like crazy. Only yesterday there had been an RAC man touting for business in the high street and, now that I had actually broken down, I was faced with the consequences of not belonging to the beastly organization.
After a few minutes of sitting and cursing, I pulled myself together and got out my mobile phone. I was about forty miles from home and it was seven o'clock at night on a Sunday, so I was wondering which friend would mind the least being called. Eeny meeny miny mo! Rachel! I had dialled the number and got no reply before I realised that there was no bloody signal!
Hell! Now what? Not many cars about, but there were one or two every so often, and I knew that I was going to have to face the situation and flag someone down. I tried to comfort myself with the fact that I had read recently, that a survey had discovered that peoples' fears of being picked up by murderers and rapists are based on paranoia and not actual hard evidence. Okay! Just keep thinking that, Mary, my girl, I thought to myself as I opened the car door and faced the cool night air.
Now that I was psyched up to hitching a lift, typically the road decided to remain empty for about five minutes. At last, I saw the beam of approaching headlights and, putting on an ingratiating smile, I flagged it down. Slowly, it came to a halt.
Golly! A Rolls Royce no less!
The rear window wound down noiselessly and a cultivated voice spoke from the interior. "Exactly what appears to be the problem, my dear?"
I explained that the wretched car had overheated and that, if it was not too much trouble, could he drop me off at the next town so that I could find a garage and then catch a train home.
"How far do have you left to go, my dear?" he asked and I told him that home sweet home was fifty miles away.
He was silent for a few moments before making a suggestion.
"Look here, my dear, I am actually on my way to a little dinner party. Nothing too special, you understand, but I am running a little late. Now I realize that this is a little presumptuous for a complete stranger, but if you would consider accompanying me as my guest you could enjoy a pleasant dinner, after which it would be a pleasure take you to your door."
I had been trying to see him through the open window while he was talking, but it was too dark to see his face. The voice, however, was kind, gentle, and beautifully modulated. The sound of that voice, the Rolls-Royce and the promise of dinner made me go against all my best instincts and I heard myself accepting his kind offer. Having persuaded me, I clicked the remote lock on my car as he opened the rear door and motioned to me to join him.
Now I could see the owner of the mellifluous voice and I was certainly not disappointed. Tall, very distinguished looking, and positively aristocratic. He had all his hair, though it was greying at the temples. He must have been in his sixties, but for an older man, I had to admit that he was very attractive. To add to the image, his coat was unbuttoned and I saw that he was wearing full evening dress underneath!
He doesn't exactly look like Jack the Ripper and I've never ridden in a Roller before! I thought to myself, banishing any qualms I might have had, so that was that. I savoured the experience of climbing into the back of a Rolls-Royce while an attractive man held the door open, and settled myself into the back seat.
It was like an old-fashioned taxi with a screen of dark glass between the front and the back. Velvet curtains were drawn across the windows and I could barely see into the drivers bit. My rescuer gave the order to drive off, and during the ride, turned out to be a wonderful conversationalist.
He asked me little things about myself, nothing too inquisitive, just enough to keep the conversation going.
He introduced himself, giving me his name as Digby Morton, and I gave him mine, making things a little less formal. He was very easy to talk to and that refined and pleasant manner was very attractive. I told him all about being a teacher and some of the funny incidents that had happened to me in the course of my career. He appeared to be amused at my anecdotes and laughed appreciatively, and in return, he told me that he was the director of a large company that specialised in gentlemens' sporting equipment. I felt confident enough with him to ask him about the dinner party that we were going to. What sort of do was it, I wondered, seeing that he was in evening dress?
"Just a few friends having a get-together, nothing too special. The food should be excellent, though. It is always absolutely first class"
"Wow!" I thought, "This all sounds very impressive, but how on earth am I going to look if everybody else is dressed up to the nines?"
I sat quietly for a bit before plucking up the nerve to ask Digby about it.