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Three Ghost Stories
Charles Dickens

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Three Ghost Stories

THE SIGNAL-MAN
‘Halloa! Below there!’
When he heard a voice thus calling to him, he was
standing at the door of his box, with a flag in his hand,
furled round its short pole. One would have thought,
considering the nature of the ground, that he could not
have doubted from what quarter the voice came; but
instead of looking up to where I stood on the top of the
steep cutting nearly over his head, he turned himself
about, and looked down the Line. There was something
remarkable in his manner of doing so, though I could not
have said for my life what. But I know it was remarkable
enough to attract my notice, even though his figure was
foreshortened and shadowed, down in the deep trench,
and mine was high above him, so steeped in the glow of
an angry sunset, that I had shaded my eyes with my hand
before I saw him at all.
‘Halloa! Below!’
From looking down the Line, he turned himself about
again, and, raising his eyes, saw my figure high above him.
‘Is there any path by which I can come down and speak
to you?’

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Three Ghost Stories

He looked up at me without replying, and I looked
down at him without pressing him too soon with a
repetition of my idle question. Just then there came a
vague vibration in the earth and air, quickly changing into
a violent pulsation, and an oncoming rush that caused me
to start back, as though it had force to draw me down.
When such vapour as rose to my height from this rapid
train had passed me, and was skimming away over the
landscape, I looked down again, and saw him refurling the
flag he had shown while the train went by.
I repeated my inquiry. After a pause, during which he
seemed to regard me with fixed attention, he motioned
with his rolled-up flag towards a point on my level, some
two or three hundred yards distant. I called down to him,
‘All right!’ and made for that point. There, by dint of
looking closely about me, I found a rough zigzag
descending path notched out, which I followed.
The cutting was extremely deep, and unusually
precipitate. It was made through a clammy stone, that
became oozier and wetter as I went down. For these
reasons, I found the way long enough to give me time to
recall a singular air of reluctance or compulsion with
which he had pointed out the path.

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Three Ghost Stories

When I came down low enough upon the zigzag
descent to see him again, I saw that he was standing
between the rails on the way by which the train had lately
passed, in an attitude as if he were waiting for me to
appear. He had his left hand at his chin, and that left
elbow rested on his right hand, crossed over his breast. His attitude was one of such expectation and watchfulness that
I stopped a moment, wondering at it.
I resumed my downward way, and stepping out upon
the level of the railroad, and drawing nearer to him, saw
that he was a dark sallow man, with a dark beard and
rather heavy eyebrows. His post was in as solitary and
dismal a place as ever I saw. On either side, a dripping-wet wall of jagged stone, excluding all view but a strip of sky; the perspective one way only a crooked prolongation of
this great dungeon; the shorter perspective in the other
direction terminating in a gloomy red light, and the
gloomier entrance to a black tunnel, in whose massive
architecture there was a barbarous, depressing, and
forbidding air. So little sunlight ever found its way to this spot, that it had an earthy, deadly smell; and so much cold
wind rushed through it, that it struck chill to me, as if I
had left the natural world.

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Three Ghost Stories...
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