A fateful conversation in the Reform Club takes place in chapter 3 of Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days. Not long after he has hired Jean Passepartout as his new valet, Phileas Fogg visits his gentlemen's club as usual and a bit of idle gossip turns into an adventurous wager.
Around a game of whist, Fogg and the other gentlemen discuss a robbery that has been the talk of the country. 50,000 pounds was stolen from the Bank of England, and the thief has escaped, prompting a worldwide search. This sparks a debate about whether or not the man can be found if he could be anywhere. One man suggests that he'll disappear from sight because "the world is big enough." Fogg, however, counters by observing that "it was once," but the world essentially feels smaller now that there are means to travel around it more quickly.
When some of the men scoff at this, Fogg states definitively that the world can be traveled in just 80 days. The other players protest that various strokes of bad luck could interfere, but Fogg maintains that it can be done, and he's willing to bet on it:
"Yes, in eighty days!" exclaimed Stuart, who in his excitement made a false deal. "But that doesn't take into account bad weather, contrary winds, shipwrecks, railway accidents, and so on."
"All included," returned Phileas Fogg, continuing to play despite the discussion.
"But suppose the Hindoos or Indians pull up the rails," replied Stuart; "suppose they stop the trains, pillage the luggage-vans, and scalp the passengers!"
"All included," calmly retorted Fogg; adding, as he threw down the cards, "Two trumps."
Stuart, whose turn it was to deal, gathered them up, and went on: "You are right, theoretically, Mr. Fogg, but practically—"
"Practically also, Mr. Stuart."
"I'd like to see you do it in eighty days."
"It depends on you. Shall we go?"
"Heaven preserve me! But I would wager four thousand pounds that such a journey, made under these conditions, is impossible."
"Quite possible, on the contrary," returned Mr. Fogg.
"Well, make it, then!"
"The journey round the world in eighty days?"
"I should like nothing better."
"At once. Only I warn you that I shall do it at your expense."
And so the adventure of the novel begins. Between them all, the gentlemen wager 20,000 pounds. If Fogg fails to travel the world in 80 days, he'll lose half of his fortune, and he suspects the other half will go to making the trip even happen. He's determined to meet the challenge, however, and he is confident in his knowledge and abilities. With Passepartout as his companion, Fogg sets out that very night to prove himself and travel the world.