Charles Dickens's ghost story in which a lonely signalman is haunted by a hooded figure who seems to warn of danger.
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Is there any path by which I may come down and speak with you?
WHISTLE BLOWS >
Is there a path?
Thank you. I'll come down.
Ah! Here we are.
This must be a very lonesome spot to occupy, I should think.
I saw you from above.
I couldn't help watching.
Forgive the intrusion, but I felt I had to know how you...
That light, it's part of your charge, I should say, is it not?
Don't you know that it is?
You look at me as if you had some dread of me.
I assure you there's nothing to fear. Nothing at all to fear.
I am simply a man.
I have spent much of my life shut up within narrow limits.
I've been confined, but now I am free.
Why do you stare at me like that, man?
I was doubtful whether I'd seen you before.
Seen me? Where?
What should I do there?
My good fellow, I was never there in my life.
You may swear it.
I think I may.
..I'm sure I may.
It's not the work, sir, it's the responsibility.
-I should have thought...
-There's not enough work here to tax the muscles or brain of a child.
No, it's the responsibility, the duty.
You seem to have things pretty much at your command.
I believe I do, sir, but it never stops, do you see? It's always there to be done. It's never finished.
And these months of late, I...
BELL RINGS AGAIN
-There you are, sir, that's my work. Nothing of interest to anyone but myself.
-I am interested.
So little to do with so much depending on it.
I wonder what you do with your mind, in between your duties, I mean.
You cannot spend your whole life reflecting on your responsibilities.
Well, yes, sir, I use my mind, though there's precious little profit in it.
You see those books? I've been trying to teach myself mathematics - fractions, decimals, algebra.
-You're a scholar then?
-Indeed I'm not, sir, no.
No, I've no head for figures. I never had as a boy. I make a poor figure as a mathematics scholar.
Well, it's the time, sir.
I've all the time in the world to fill and nothing to do with the knowledge when I have it.
Mathematics will do as well as anything else.
It serves to pass...
Is everything as it should be?
I believe so.
Tell me, do you spend all your hours of duty down here...
..between these cold, dark walls?
I'm accustomed to it.
In the early days, I'd sometimes find a bit of slack time to climb up into the sunlight,
but the work was always here to draw me down. I'd listen for the bell, you see.
My face would be in the sun, but my mind would be down here in the dark
and the shadows.
I think the mind makes its own places, sir.
You speak - forgive me - like a man of education.
Oh, I was at one time, sir. A student of natural philosophy.
But what does that tell us? Nothing.
No motion without cause, a reason for everything. I found myself dissatisfied with it.
-Make yourself comfortable, sir.
You've been asleep.
Don't worry, you have no responsibilities here.
You have no call to be here. And being here, there's no charge on you to do this or that.
Sleep or wake, nothing will suffer for it.
What brought you here?
I was drawn here.
Drawn? Yes, I...
An accident on this stretch of the line must be a terrible thing.
In the tunnel, say.
The tunnel collision is the worst to be feared.
Your nightmares would go hard to equal it.
The wreckage becomes hideously compressed so they can find space.
If fire breaks out, the tunnel and its ventilating shafts become furnace flues.
You cannot see in the dark to get the wreckage and the bodies out.
The screams of the injured and dying...
echo in a most...
It's the shape of the tunnel, you see, sir.
But you can only do your duty.
Oh, yes, sir.
And you have all this.
This place of peace.
-And you have no desires to go elsewhere?
-I have not.
Then I almost believe I have met with a contented man.
Well, I must leave you now.
It's a fair walk to the inn.
-I believe I used to be a contented man, sir, but I'm troubled, I'm troubled.
-What is your trouble?
-It's difficult to impart, difficult to speak of,
but if you pay me another visit, I'll try to tell you.
I intend to make you another visit. When shall it be?
I go off duty early in the morning, but I'm on again at 10 o'clock tomorrow night.
-I shall come at 11.
-Thank you, sir.
I'll show you my white light till you've found your way.
When you've found it,
don't...don't call out.
And when you come tomorrow night, don't call out.
Let me ask you one question, sir.
What bid you say, "Hello, below there," this evening?
-I said something to that effect.
-Not to that effect. Those are the words.
I said them, no doubt, because I saw you below.
You have no feeling that they were conveyed to you in any...supernatural way?
Then I'll wish you goodnight, sir, and Godspeed.
DISTANT WHISTLE BLOWS
'The tunnel collision is the worst to be feared.'
'Don't call out.
'Don't call out.
'Don't call out.'
You see, I've not called out.
May I speak now?
By all means, sir.
and here's my hand.
Goodnight, sir, and here's mine.
I've made up my mind, sir, you shall not have to ask me twice what troubles me.
I took you for someone else last night.
That troubles me.
Who is it?
-I don't know.
I don't know. I never saw his face.
The left arm is across the face and the right arm is waved.
As if to say...
for God's sake, clear the way.
One foggy night...
I was sitting here
watching the patterns in the fire...
..and I heard a voice.
Hello! Below there!
What's wrong? What's happened?
Come out! Come out!
Come out! Look out!
ALL THREE BELLS RING
All well. All well.
"All well" you telegraphed?
I telegraphed both ways.
I'm sure that this figure must be a deception.
A deception of your sense of sight, I mean.
A minor ailment of one of the delicate nerves that minister to the functions of the eye.
I assure you, I have known many such cases, and the impairment is not permanent.
-Experiment has proved these things to be so.
We must look to our rational faculties for an explanation.
If we abandon reason,
how do we consider this imaginary cry?
Do but listen for a moment to the wind in this unnatural valley.
HOWLING WIND Even now as we speak.
wild harp it makes of the telegraph wires.
I know that sound well enough, sir.
Still I have not finished.
Within six hours,
after the appearance...
..the memorable accident on this line occurred.
DISTANT WAILING AND COUGHING
'And within ten hours, the dead and wounded were brought along through the tunnel
'over the spot where the figure had stood.'
Stretchers in here!
A remarkable coincidence, my friend.
But no more than that.
We are men of good sense.
We must seek to understand the world by rational means.
But we can allow coincidence. I think we can.
But still I have not finished.
That was just a year ago.
Six or seven months past, and I'd recovered from the surprise and the shock,
when one morning,
'just as the day was breaking,
'I stood at the door
'..and looked towards the red light.'
What is it?
What is it?
Where is the danger?
Tell me what to do.
What is it?
What can I do?
'It's true, sir.
'They brought her in and they laid her down on this floor between us.'
It's true, sir, true.
Precisely as it happened, so I tell you.
Now, sir, mark this...
..the spectre came back a week ago.
And it's been there now and again by fits and starts.
At the light?
At the danger light.
What does it seem to do?
You know what it does.
I've shown you.
..it does this.
I have no rest, no peace for it.
It calls me for minutes together.
An agonised shout.
"Look out! Look out!"
It stands there waving to me, rings my little bell.
Twice, yesterday evening, while I was here.
You knew. What do you know of this?!
Nothing, my friend, I assure you.
I simply observed you and made rational deductions.
And I must tell you that that bell did not ring.
My eyes were on the bell, my ears were on the bell
and it never rang.
Except in the natural course of things.
By the station communicating with you, I mean.
No, no, no, I never confuse the spectre's ring with the man's.
The ghost's ring, sir, has a strange vibration in the bell that it derives from nothing else.
I've not asserted that the bell stirs to the eye.
I don't wonder that you fail to hear it, if you speak the truth,
but I HEARD IT.
And did the spectre seem to be there when you looked out?
It WAS there.
Will you come to the door with me now and look for it?
Do you see it?
I do not see it now.
It is not there.
You see now, sir, what troubles me so dreadfully,
what does this spectre mean?
-I'm not sure that I understand you.
-Oh, I think you do, sir.
What is it warning me about?
What is the danger? Where is the danger?
Some dreadful calamity will happen to this line.
It's not to be doubted this third time.
Sir, this is a dreadful haunting of me, but what am I do to?
If I telegraph "danger", I can give no reason. They'll think I'm mad.
Message, "Danger. Take care."
Answer, "What danger? Where?"
Message, "Don't know, but for God's sake, take care."
They would displace me. What else could they do?
Please, my friend, you must compose yourself. I'm sure...
When it first stood there under the danger light,
why did it not tell me where they accident was to happen?
And why did it not tell me how it could be averted?
If it must be averted.
Why did it not tell me on the second occasion?
"She's going to die. Keep her at home."
And now, what is it to be?
And why me, for heaven's sake, a poor signalman on this station?
Why not go to somebody with credit to be believed and power to act?
My dear friend, you must listen to me.
You must compose yourself.
-Let us say that all these things are true.
-They ARE true.
So be it. Very well.
But try to take heed of this.
Any man who thoroughly discharges his duty must do well.
There is no more that you can do.
I have studied you these past two nights.
I am convinced that no man could carry out his task
with more attention and responsibility than you do.
-I hope so, sir. I do believe so.
-I'm SURE that it is so.
You must take comfort in this - that you understand your duty
and discharge it to the smallest detail.
You can't be called upon to try to interpret them.
Take comfort in the discharge of your duty.
You cannot be to blame.
-I believe you are on the right of it, sir.
-I know I am.
I'll stick to my duty, then. Nothing else to be done.
I'm heartily glad to hear you say it.
I believe you've helped me tonight, sir, and I thank you for it.
-I'll willingly stay with you till dawn if you wish.
-Oh, no, sir.
No, I wouldn't hear of it.
No, I've got my work to keep me company.
-Perhaps you'll come again, sir.
-Indeed I will. And I shan't call out.
I would be grateful, sir.
HE WHISTLES CHEERILY
Hello! Below there!
DOOR OPENS AND CLOSES
Hello! Below there!
TRAIN COMES TO A HALT
Coming round the curve of the tunnel, sir, I saw him at the end,
like as if I saw him down the end of a perspective glass.
There was no time to shut off speed, sir. I knew him to be very careful.
He didn't seem to heed the whistle, sir,
so I shut it off and I called to him.
What did you say to him?
I said, "Hello! Below there! Look out!"
I was waving at him!
"Look out! For God's sake, clear the way!"
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd 2005
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