Three Ghost Stories - Charles Dickens I had multiple lengthy ebooks to read, but wanted a bit more short Christmas stories to pass the time - so of course I thought of Dickens. I suppose I should add that I was also trying to read this while others were watching tv and every now and then trying to have a conversation with me - so I'd stop, chat a bit, and then go back to reading. Short stories are usually the easiest for this sort of situation. (Previously in the past weeks I've read old Christmas, a Christmas Carol, and Cricket on the Hearth.)I should add that none of these are set in anything resembling Christmas atmosphere. The Christmas ghost story doesn't actually have to occur act Christmas time - it's simply that there began to be a trend of sharing or telling or reading ghost stories at Christmas, and that's one tradition I like to keep up with. Well, the reading part, anyway.This book is again one of those really, really short "books" we find on Gutenberg - here's the link, while I remember to pass it on. It consists of three stories:The Signal-ManThis gets anthologized a lot, and it's not a particular favorite of mine simply because I've read it so many times. It's a railroad story, and it's not entirely clear if what we're hearing of is technically a ghost or not.The Haunted HouseGood lord, this story is tedious and all over the place. I had to stop several times and wonder if this was one Dickens had written on a deadline or when he needed something to fill some magazine's empty space (or if he was being paid by the word). At first it seems to be a skeptic's story of people seeing ghosts that don't exist, then possibly a ghost, then a childhood memory, and then an odd ending that I'm not quite sure what to make of. I did find this bit amusing:" I then casually asked Ikey if he were a judge of a gun? On his saying, “Yes, sir, I knows a good gun when I sees her,” I begged the favour of his stepping up to the house and looking at mine.“She’s a true one, sir,” said Ikey, after inspecting a double-barrelled rifle that I bought in New York a few years ago. “No mistake about her, sir.”“Ikey,” said I, “don’t mention it; I have seen something in this house.”“No, sir?” he whispered, greedily opening his eyes. “ ’Ooded lady, sir?”“Don’t be frightened,” said I. “It was a figure rather like you.”“Lord, sir?”“Ikey!” said I, shaking hands with him warmly: I may say affectionately; “if there is any truth in these ghost-stories, the greatest service I can do you, is, to fire at that figure. And I promise you, by Heaven and earth, I will do it with this gun if I see it again!”The Haunted House is a story I really should go research and find its publication date and history, but meh, I'm traveling and will do this later. (Which means I'll probably put this on the read shelf and promptly forget.)The Trial For Murder Ah, much better, and I wished this story had been first. The story of a trial and a ghost, which peters out at the end, but still satisfying. Definitely not one of Dickens best, but so much better than The Haunted House. Perhaps I'm praising it so much more because it was a relief after that one.