The figure trudged, or rather sloshed, onwards till the hill resumed and the treacherous sheet of water was left behind.
After a while the rain began to ease and the moon put in a brief appearance from behind the clouds.
A Renault drove by, and its driver made frantic and complex signals to the trudging figure to indicate that he would have been delighted to give the figure a lift, only he couldn't this time because he wasn't going in the direction that the figure wanted to go, whatever direction that might be, and he was sure the figure would understand. He concluded the signalling with a cheery thumbs-up sign, as if to say that he hoped the figure felt really fine about being cold and almost terminally wet, and he would catch him the next time around.
The figure trudged on. A Fiat passed and did exactly the same as the Renault.
A Maxi passed on the other side of the road and flashed its lights at the slowly plodding figure, though whether this was meant to convey a ``Hello'' or a ``Sorry we're going the other way'' or a ``Hey look, there's someone in the rain, what a jerk'' was entirely unclear. A green strip across the top of the windscreen indicated that whatever the message was, it came from Steve and Carola.
The storm had now definitely abated, and what thunder there was now grumbled over more distant hills, like a man saying ``And another thing ...'' twenty minutes after admitting he's lost the argument.
The air was clearer now, the night cold. Sound travelled rather well. The lost figure, shivering desperately, presently reached a junction, where a side road turned off to the left. Opposite the turning stood a signpost which the figure suddenly hurried to and studied with feverish curiosity, only twisting away from it as another car passed suddenly.
The first whisked by with complete disregard, the second flashed meaninglessly. A Ford Cortina passed and put on its brakes.
Lurching with surprise, the figure bundled his bag to his chest and hurried forward towards the car, but at the last moment the Cortina span its wheels in the wet and carreered off up the road rather amusingly.
The figure slowed to a stop and stood there, lost and dejected.
As it chanced, the following day the driver of the Cortina went into hospital to have his appendix out, only due to a rather amusing mix up the surgeon removed his leg in error, and before the appendectomy could be rescheduled, the appendicitis complicated into an entertainingly serious case of peritonitis and justice, in its way, was served.
The figure trudged on.
A Saab drew to a halt beside him.
Its window wound down and a friendly voice said, ``Have you come far?''
The figure turned toward it. He stopped and grasped the handle of the door.
The figure, the car and its door handle were all on a planet called the Earth, a world whose entire entry in the Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy comprised the two words ``Mostly harmless''.
The man who wrote this entry was called Ford Prefect, and he was at this precise moment on a far from harmless world, sitting in a far from harmless bar, recklessly causing trouble.