THE other girls were waiting by the back door as Sally and Alphonso arrived. As her escort slipped away into the night, the girls were full of questions, but Sally said little as she remembered the handsome singer and his invitation, and was very tempted to meet him again.
She did the next night and several nights afterwards. Alphonso was always the gentleman, buying her a coffee and sitting her in a corner of the café while he played, smiling with his dark eyes at her throughout the evening.
Afterwards they sat and talked. Alphonso was from the Italian part of Switzerland and had moved to that town to earn money for his mother and family. He told stories of his eight brothers and sisters and made Sally laugh at their antics.
“I wish I had brothers and sisters,” she sighed one evening.
“Well, you come meet mine?”
“Wish I could. Don’t see how I can. Unless . . .” Sally grabbed his hand in excitement but did not see the burning look in her companion’s eyes at the touch of her warm fingers. “We are due a weekend away soon. I could pretend to be going away with one of my school friends. I’m sure they’d cover for me.”
It proved easy to persuade one of her friends to say Sally was joining her and her mother in Zermatt for the weekend. The other girls thought it a lark that Sally had a boyfriend right under Dame Penelope’s nose and were happy to cover for her.
It was fortunate that Sally was to meet her friend’s mother at the station, and the two girls were packed off in a taxi by Dame Penelope herself.
“No loitering, girls. Straight to the station.”
As soon as the taxi drew up at the station, Sally said loudly, so that the driver could hear, “Just need to go to the Ladies, I’ll join you at the ticket office.” As the taxi drew away, she gave a thumbs-up sign to her friend and ran off towards the café, where Alphonso waited for her.
“I thought you not come,” he said with a wide grin on his face. “We have one for the road, as you English say, no?”
“OK. Well, I’ll just have a coffee, thanks.”
They went into the café and Sally realised it looked very different in daylight. The magic was gone and everything looked a little shabby. Last night’s wine stains showed on the rickety tables, and some of the bulbs were missing in the strings of lights. She noticed a curtained off area at the back, which was not obvious at night.
“We go back here.” His hand on her arm was firm and she was being propelled urgently to the back of the room.
Through the curtain Sally now saw a couch and it was towards this that Alphonso was urging her.
“No, please, Alphonso,” she started to say, but all else was smothered by his lips pressing on hers.
“I waited patiently long time for you, my little angel. Now you take me to Heaven. You don’t think I take you to my family, do you?”
“No, no!” She pushed hard at Alphonso’s chest. Not expecting the sudden resistance after he had felt Sally’s response, he staggered backwards on to the couch.
Sally rushed into the café and dashed out into the street. Sobbing, she ran towards the school, her clothes dishevelled and her make-up smudged.
“What on earth?” Dame Penelope was just coming out of the front door of the school but quickly pulled the distraught girl inside.
Through her tears and hiccupping with reaction, Sally told the whole story.
There was a stony silence as Sally finished.
“Well, I have never had such a thing happen in all my years here,” Dame Penelope finally said. “Go to your room, and think yourself lucky you escaped. We will have to see what is to be done.”