The lesson "The Midnight Visitor" is an interesting detective story written by Robert Arthur. The story opens with the narrator stating that Fowler felt Ausable didn't fit into the description of a secret agent. Fowler was a young writer who came to meet Ausable. While following him, Fowler felt a mouldy smell in the corridor. Ausable lived in a French hotel, and the hotel corridor seemed to be very dark. While seeing the stinky and gloomy corridor of the French hotel, Fowler felt disappointed.
The narrator then describes Ausable's room. The room was very small, and it was on the sixth and the top floor. The room doesn't fit for setting any romantic adventure. Here the word "romantic adventure" suggests that fanciful or adventurous events occur in the room. Fowler might have imagined Ausable would have encountered several daring activities. But, when he looks around his room, Fowler doesn't think it's a good setting for any exciting stories.
After giving a detailed description of Ausable's room, the narrator describes his appearance. Ausable was a fat man, and he knew both French and German, but he was not excellent in those languages. It means that he can manage both languages. Whenever he spoke French and German languages, there would be an American accent in them. Ausable knew the American accent because he lived in Boston. Also, the narrator states that Ausable brought the American accent from Boston to Paris twenty years ago. It means that Ausable came to Paris twenty years ago, and after coming to Paris, he started speaking French and German. As French is the official language of Paris, some people are used to people German too. So while Ausable was in Paris, he started speaking in both languages using an American accent.
Ausable, a fat man
Ausable then observed that Fowler was disappointed after meeting him. Because of some breathing problems, he made a high, rough noise over his shoulder. Ausable then explained why he said it in detail. He told Fowler that he might have heard from someone that Ausable was a secret agent dealing with espionage and danger. The term "espionage" refers to the practice of spying or the use of spies, often by the government, to gather political and military information. After telling that, Ausable said that Fowler had shown an interest in meeting him because he was a writer who looked very young and romantic.
Ausable then said that Fowler might have imagined encountering several strange people in the middle of the night. Also, he visualised seeing shadowy creatures in the night, hearing gunshots, and using narcotics in the wine. On the contrary, Fowler had spent a dull evening at a French music hall with a chubby fat man.
Ausable then stated that Fowler would have expected Ausable to get communications from the dark-eyed beauties. Here the term "dark-eyed beauties refer to beautiful ladies with dark eyes. In this context, dark-eyed beauties were used to describe the type of ladies Fowler hoped to see around Ausable. Fowler might have such thought because he was a romantic and young writer; he would expect how a secret agent would be. On the contrary, Ausable used to get ordinary telephonic calls, and people would phone him to schedule an appointment to meet him in his room. After telling that, Ausable said that Fowler might have felt bored of seeing him. He made the statement because Fowler had thought of meeting a different personality. But while seeing the fat man, Fowler would have felt bored.
Ausable then laughed quietly to himself when he opened his room. He stepped aside to allow his frustrated friend to enter his room. Ausable would have referred to Fowler as a "frustrated friend" because whatever Fowler had expected had not occurred. Fowler might have felt irritated on seeing the ambience of the room and him.
Ausable also stated that the paper was something special, and many men and women have put their lives in danger for the sake of the report. He might have said that to create curiosity in Fowler. He then requested Fowler to come inside the room. Ausable then stated that the document had the potential to change the course of history at some point in the future. After telling that, he asked whether he didn't feel any suspense in what he said or it didn't feel like something serious. Here, Ausable attempted to arouse an interest in the documents and the importance of visiting him.
While speaking with Fowler, Ausable closed the door standing behind him. Later, he switched on his room light. Then the narrator said that when he switched on the light, Fowler had faced a thrilling experience of the day. The narrator made the statement because Fowler had visited Ausable to get some interesting stories. But when he met him, he felt disappointed. When the light was on, some thrilling experiences were waiting for Fowler. It was nothing, but they noticed a man standing half away across the room, holding a pistol in his hand.
After seeing the man, Ausable blinked his eyes a few times. After doing that, Ausable called out the man's name. It was Max. He asked Max what he was doing there and said he thought Max was in Berlin. Later, he asked him what he was doing in his room.
The narrator then describes the character of Max to his readers. Max was a thin guy. He doesn't look very tall. While looking at the features of Max, he had the resemblance of a fox. The narrator might have described Fowler as a fox because of his cunningness. Then the narrator says that while looking at him, he had only a gun in his hand. Apart from the gun, there was nothing that seemed strange or panicking. The narrator might have made the statement because, as it was Max, Ausable thought he would not harm them.
After hearing Ausable's statement, Max murmured, "The report". He said that he knew that Ausable would get a report regarding some new missiles tonight. He also said that he would take it from him. Moreover, he stated that the report would be safe in his hand compared to him. This was the reason Max came to the room to Ausable's room.
After hearing that, Fowler, the writer, saw the room's single window. According to him, the room had a normal window; if someone saw it from there at night, it would feel extreme darkness.
Max then said "Balcony" with a rising tone. He then claimed that he did not enter through the balcony. He entered Ausable's room using a passkey (a key to the door of a prohibited area, given only to those who are officially permitted access). Furthermore, he stated that he was unaware of the balcony. He further stated that if he had known earlier, he would not have waited for the passkey and would have attempted to enter the room through the balcony.
Ausable became enraged when he heard this and yelled that it was not his balcony. He said that the balcony belonged to the next apartment. Then Ausable glanced at Fowler and explained that the room he was using as part of a larger unit. He also stated that the adjacent room, next to the entrance, was utilised as a living room.
In addition, Ausable said that a balcony extended beneath his window in that room. Ausable then said that anyone could get into his room from that empty room. Also, he said that somebody entered his room through that window. Moreover, he said that he informed the management earlier, and they told him that they would block the way. But till now, they haven't blocked that way.
After hearing that, Ausable said they had to wait for thirty-one minutes because the appointment was only at twelve-thirty. Then Ausable said he was curious about how Max learnt about the report. Max then smiled in a wicked manner. Here the narrator portrays Max as a "little spy" because the term "spy" reveals the profession of Max. As he was a spy, he came to know how Ausable got the report and where it was.
Max then said that they (Max and the team) wanted to know how Ausable and his people received the report. After telling that, he said that nothing harm had happened, and he would get the reports back tonight. Then Max asked Ausable what that noise was and who was knocking at the door. After hearing that, Fowler jumped because of the sudden knocking sound.
After hearing Ausable's statements, Max was enraged by the circumstances and walked quickly towards the window. He then put his leg over the window sill and told Ausable to send the individuals standing outside the door. He also stated that he would wait on the balcony to see if they were moving or not. Furthermore, he stated that if Ausable did not send them away, he would shoot them and seize the reports.
The knocking on the door became louder as time passed, and someone from outside called for Mr Ausable twice. Max sat on the window sill, looking inside, so his rifle could still be directed at Mr Ausable and Fowler. Max then perched on the window sill with both legs outside, holding the window ledge.
The doorknob slowly moved, and Max assumed that the cops were on their way in, so he leapt from the window sill and fell vertically down the balcony. When he collapsed, he let out a harsh cry. When the door opened, a waiter was standing there with a tray, a bottle of wine, and two glasses. He walked in, kept everything on the table, and claimed it was the bottle Ausable had requested. He carefully removed the cork from the bottle and walked away.
Henry, the waiter
Fowler had no idea what had occurred and mumbled about where the cops were, to which Ausable answered that there were no cops and that he knew it was Henry, the waiter, and that he was simply awaiting him. Then Ausable inquired about the guy outside the window, to which Ausable answered that he would never return since there was no balcony and Max had fallen to the earth from the building's top floor.
Through this story, one can understand that appearance doesn't matter. Whether Ausable is thin or fat doesn't portray his character; his cleverness and handling of the situation showed him as a talented secret agent. His witty plan had made him save his important report from Max. As Ausable knew there was no other balcony in the apartment, he cooked up stories to confuse him. As a result of that confusion, Max lost his life. So the moral of the story is 'appearance can be deceptive'. So, don't judge people simply by their looks.