That was all very well, he returned, after we had sat listening for a while, and he ought to know something of the wind and the wires,-- he who so often passed long winter nights there, alone and watching. But he would beg to remark that he had not finished.
I asked his pardon, and he slowly added these words, touching my arm, -
'Within six hours after the Appearance, the memorable accident on this Line happened, and within ten hours the dead and wounded were brought along through the tunnel over the spot where the figure had stood.'
A disagreeable shudder crept over me, but I did my best against it. It was not to be denied, I rejoined, that this was a remarkable coincidence, calculated deeply to impress his mind. But it was unquestionable that remarkable coincidences did continually occur, and they must be taken into account in dealing with such a subject. Though to be sure I must admit, I added (for I thought I saw that he was going to bring the objection to bear upon me), men of common sense did not allow much for coincidences in making the ordinary calculations of life.
He again begged to remark that he had not finished.
I again begged his pardon for being betrayed into interruptions.
'This,' he said, again laying his hand upon my arm, and glancing over his shoulder with hollow eyes, 'was just a year ago. Six or seven months passed, and I had recovered from the surprise and shock, when one morning, as the day was breaking, I, standing at the door, looked towards the red light, and saw the spectre again.' He stopped, with a fixed look at me.
'Did it cry out?'
'No. It was silent.'
'Did it wave its arm?'
'No. It leaned against the shaft of the light, with both hands before the face. Like this.'
Once more I followed his action with my eyes. It was an action of mourning. I have seen such an attitude in stone figures on tombs.
'Did you go up to it?'
'I came in and sat down, partly to collect my thoughts, partly because it had turned me faint. When I went to the door again, daylight was above me, and the ghost was gone.'
'But nothing followed? Nothing came of this?'
He touched me on the arm with his forefinger twice or thrice giving a ghastly nod each time:-
'That very day, as a train came out of the tunnel, I noticed, at a carriage window on my side, what looked like a confusion of hands and heads, and something waved. I saw it just in time to signal the driver, Stop! He shut off, and put his brake on, but the train drifted past here a hundred and fifty yards or more. I ran after it, and, as I went along, heard terrible screams and cries. A beautiful young lady had died instantaneously in one of the compartments, and was brought in here, and laid down on this floor between us.'
Involuntarily I pushed my chair back, as I looked from the boards at which he pointed to himself.
'True, sir. True. Precisely as it happened, so I tell it you.'
I could think of nothing to say, to any purpose, and my mouth was very dry. The wind and the wires took up the story with a long lamenting wail.
He resumed. 'Now, sir, mark this, and judge how my mind is troubled. The spectre came back a week ago. Ever since, it has been there, now and again, by fits and starts.'
'At the light?'
'At the Danger-light.'
'What does it seem to do?'
He repeated, if possible with increased passion and vehemence, that former gesticulation of, 'For God's sake, clear the way!'
Then he went on. 'I have no peace or rest for it. It calls to me, for many minutes together, in an agonised manner, 'Below there! Look out! Look out!' It stands waving to me. It rings my little bell--'
I caught at that. 'Did it ring your bell yesterday evening when I was here, and you went to the door?'
'Why, see,' said I, 'how your imagination misleads you. My eyes were on the bell, and my ears were open to the bell, and if I am a living man, it did NOT ring at those times. No, nor at any other time, except when it was rung in the natural course of physical things by the station communicating with you.'