It was a fine night when Hubert climbed the steps of a bus. He was returning from the Tumbersomes, pleasant but dull people who were friends of his family. They had given him a fairly good dinner but they had left him dissatisfied.
From the top of his bus which carried him along brilliantly-lighted but now deserted streets, Hubert sighed for adventure.
There is something theatrical about these streets when the hour is approaching midnight.
They suggest that at any moment the most unusual drama might begin. Hubert, a reader of fiction, a playgoer, a lover of film shows, always hoped that something mysterious, romantic would happen to him. But somehow it never did.
In a few minutes, he would leave the bus, walk down one street and arrive at the little flat in which he lived with his friend, John Langton. They would make some tea, talk for about half-hour, and then go to bed. The evening would be over, finished, and the next morning he would go to the office.
Meanwhile time was flying. Hubert was twentythree, and it seemed to him that he was nearly middle-aged.
He looked around at the other passengers on the bus. It was difficult to see their faces, but they were dull, as usual.
No men with scars stared at him, no beautiful girls with tears in their eyes asked for help. Then he saw a golden light which came from the coffee-stall at the corner.
From fiction Herbert knew that there was something romantic about coffee-stalls. He decided to leave the bus at the corner.
He went to the coffee-stall and ordered a cup of coffee and a piece of cake.
There were only two or three men there. Hubert tried the coffee and found that it was hotter and more tasteless than ever. What a life!
But at that moment a taxi came and stopped at the stall. The door opened and a man almost fell out of it. He came zigzagging over the stall and passing Hubert he pushed him so that his coffee and cake went flying.
“Sorry, old man,” said the newcomer. “Very, very sorry. What was it?”
“It doesn’t matter,”
Hubert told him. “I really didn’t want that coffee.”
The man looked at him, laughing, “Then why order it, why pay for it, if you don’t want it?”
Hubert smiled and said, “Oh, I just stopped here – on my way home, you know – just for something to do.”
“Too early to go home, eh?”
“Well, you know how you feel sometimes,” said Hubert. The man patted Hubert on the shoulder.
“I do. I feel like it all the time. Now I’ll tell you what. You come with me, old man. I am just going to a little club. You come with me. I’ll show you something.”
Hubert hesitated. The man was obviously drunk, and a visit to some night club in his company was not very attractive.
“Well, I don’t know…” he began.
“The only thing is,” said the man seriously, coming nearer, “can you keep a secret? That’s important. If not, I can’t invite you.”
This decided Hubert. There was a real adventure! So. he thanked the man, and agreed to accompany him.
They got into the waiting taxi. In another minute they were moving along some dark and deserted street.