Learn English with audio book Story | The Third Level - Intermediate level
00:11:54 thatís what he really wished he could do,. and he certainly canít go back to his old

thatís what he really wished he could do,. and he certainly canít go back to his old

The Third Level. by Jack Finney.

THE presidents of the New York Central and. the New York, New Haven and Hartford railroads

will swear on a stack of timetables that there. are only two.

But I say there are three, because Iíve been. on the third level of the Grand Central Station.

Yes, Iíve taken the obvious step: I talked. to a psychiatrist friend of mine, among others.

I told him about the third level at Grand. Central Station, and he said it was a wakingdream

wish fulfillment.

He said I was unhappy.

That made my wife kind of mad, but he explained. that he meant the modern world is full of

insecurity, fear, war, worry and all the rest. of it, and that I just want to escape.

Well, who doesnít?

Everybody I know wants to escape, but they. donít wander down into any third level at

Grand Central Station.

But thatís the reason, he said, and my friends. all agreed.

Everything points to it, they claimed.

My stamp collecting, for example; thatís. a ëtemporary refuge from reality.í Well,

maybe, but my grandfather didnít need any. refuge from reality; things were pretty nice

and peaceful. in his day, from all I hear, and he started

my collection.

Itís a nice collection too, blocks of four. of practically every U.S. issue, first-day

covers, and so on.

President Roosevelt collected stamps too,. you know.

Anyway, hereís what happened at Grand Central.

One night last summer I worked late at the. office.

I was in a hurry to get uptown to my apartment. so I decided to take the subway from Grand

Central because itís faster than the bus.

Now, I donít know why this should have happened. to me.

Iím just an ordinary guy named Charley, thirty-one. years old, and I was wearing a tan gabardine

suit and a straw hat with a fancy band; I. passed a dozen men who looked just like me.

And I wasnít trying to escape from anything;. I just wanted to get home to Louisa, my wife.

I turned into Grand Central from Vanderbilt. Avenue, and went down the steps to the first

level, where you take trains like the Twentieth. Century.

Then I walked down another flight to the second. level, where the suburban trains leave from,

ducked into an arched doorway heading for. the subway ó and got lost.

Thatís easy to do.

Iíve been in and out of Grand Central hundreds. of times, but Iím always bumping into new

doorways and stairs and corridors.

Once I got into a tunnel about a mile long. and came out in the lobby of the Roosevelt

Hotel.

Another time I came up in an office building. on Forty-sixth Street, three blocks away.

Sometimes I think Grand Central is growing. like a tree, pushing out new corridors and

staircases like roots.

Thereís probably a long tunnel that nobody. knows about feeling its way under the city

right now, on its way to Times Square, and. maybe another to Central Park.

And maybe ó because for so many people through. the years Grand Central has been an exit,

a way of escape ó maybe thatís how the tunnel. I got into...

But I never told my psychiatrist friend about. that idea.

The corridor I was in, began angling left,. and slanting downward, and I thought that

was wrong, but I kept on walking.

All I could hear was the empty sound of my. own footsteps and I didnít pass a soul.

Then I heard that sort of hollow roar ahead. that means open space and people talking.

The tunnel turned sharp left; I went down. a short flight of stairs and came out on the

third level at Grand Central Station.

For just a moment I thought I was back on. the second level, but I saw the room was smaller,

there were fewer ticket windows and train. gates, and the information booth in the centre

was wood and oldlooking.

And the man in the booth wore a green eyeshade. and long black sleeve protectors.

The lights were dim and sort of flickering.

Then I saw why; they were open-flame gaslights.

There were brass spittoons on the floor, and. across the station a glint of light caught

my eye; a man was pulling a gold watch from. his vest pocket.

He snapped open the cover, glanced at his. watch and frowned.

He wore a derby hat, a black four-button suit. with tiny lapels, and he had a big, black,

handlebar mustache.

Then I looked around and saw that everyone. in the station was dressed like eighteen-ninety-something;

I never saw so many beards, sideburns and. fancy mustaches in my life.

A woman walked in through the train gate;. she wore a dress with leg-ofmutton sleeves

and skirts to the top of her high-buttoned. shoes.

Back of her, out on the tracks, I caught a. glimpse of a locomotive, a very small Currier

& Ives locomotive with a funnel-shaped stack.

And then I knew.

To make sure, I walked over to a newsboy and. glanced at the stack of papers at his feet.

It was The World; and The World hasnít been. published for years.

The lead story said something about President. Cleveland.

Iíve found that front page since, in the. Public Library files, and it was printed June

11, 1894.

I turned toward the ticket windows knowing. that here ó on the third level at Grand Central

ó I could buy tickets that would take Louisa. and me anywhere in the United States we wanted

to go.

In the year 1894.

And I wanted two tickets to Galesburg, Illinois.

Have you ever been there?

Itís a wonderful town still, with big old. frame houses, huge lawns, and tremendous trees

whose branches meet overhead and roof the. streets.

And in 1894, summer evenings were twice as. long, and people sat out on their lawns, the

men smoking cigars and talking quietly, the. women waving palm-leaf fans, with the fire-flies

all around, in a peaceful world.

To be back there with the First World War. still twenty years off, and World War II over

forty years in the future...

I wanted two. tickets for that.

The clerk figured the fare ó he glanced at. my fancy hatband, but he figured the fare

ó and I had enough for two coach tickets,. one way.

But when I counted out the money and looked. up, the clerk was staring at me.

He nodded at the bills.

ëëThat ainít money, mister, he said, ëëand. if youíre trying to skin me, you wonít get

very far, and he glanced at the cash drawer. beside him.

Of course the money was old-style bills, half. again as big as the money we use nowadays,

and different-looking.

I turned away and got out fast.

Thereís nothing nice about jail, even in. 1894.

And that was that.

I left the same way I came, I suppose.

Next day, during lunch hour, I drew three. hundred dollars out of the bank, nearly all

we had, and bought old-style currency (that. really worried my psychiatrist friend).

You can buy old money at almost any coin dealerís,. but you have to pay a premium.

My three hundred dollars bought less than. two hundred in old-style bills, but I didnít

care; eggs were thirteen cents a dozen in. 1894.

But Iíve never again found the corridor that. leads to the third level at Grand Central

Station, although Iíve tried often enough.

Louisa was pretty worried when I told her. all this, and didnít want me to look for

the third level any more, and after a while. I stopped; I went back to my stamps.

But now weíre both looking, every weekend,. because now we have proof that the third level

is still there.

My friend Sam Weiner disappeared!

Nobody knew where, but I sort of suspected. because Samís a city boy, and I used to tell

him about Galesburg ó I went to school there. ó and he always said he liked the sound of

the place.

And thatís where he is, all right.

In 1894.

Because one night, fussing with my stamp collection,. I found ó Well, do you know what a first-day

cover is?

When a new stamp is issued, stamp collectors. buy some

and use them to mail envelopes to themselves. on the very first day of sale; and the postmark

proves the date.

The envelope is called a first-day cover.

Theyíre never opened; you just put blank. paper in the envelope.

That night, among my oldest first-day covers,. I found one that shouldnít have been there.

But there it was.

It was there because someone had mailed it. to my grandfather at his home in Galesburg;

thatís what the address on the envelope said.

And it had been there since July 18, 1894. ó the postmark showed that ó yet I didnít

remember it at all.

The stamp was a six-cent, dull brown, with. a picture of President Garfield.

Naturally, when the envelope came to Granddad. in the mail, it went right into his collection

and stayed there ó till I took it out and. opened it.

The paper inside wasnít blank.

It read:

Charley,. I got to wishing that you were right.

Then I got to believing you were right.

And, Charley, itís true; I found the third. level!

Iíve been here two weeks, and right now,. down the street at the Dalyís, someone is

playing a piano, and theyíre all out on the. front porch singing, ëSeeing Nelly Home.í

And, Iím invited over for lemonade.

Come on back, Charley and Louisa.

Keep looking till you find the third level!

Itís worth it, believe me!

The note is signed, Sam.

At the stamp and coin store I go to, I found. out that Sam bought eight hundred dollarsí

worth of old-style currency.

That ought to set him up in a nice little. hay, feed and grain business; he always said

thatís what he really wished he could do,. and he certainly canít go back to his old

business.

Not in Galesburg, Illinois, in 1894.

His old business?

Why, Sam was my psychiatrist.

The End.

The Third Level. by Jack Finney.

THE presidents of the New York Central and. the New York, New Haven and Hartford railroads

will swear on a stack of timetables that there. are only two.

But I say there are three, because Iíve been. on the third level of the Grand Central Station.

Yes, Iíve taken the obvious step: I talked. to a psychiatrist friend of mine, among others.

I told him about the third level at Grand. Central Station, and he said it was a wakingdream

wish fulfillment.

He said I was unhappy.

That made my wife kind of mad, but he explained. that he meant the modern world is full of

insecurity, fear, war, worry and all the rest. of it, and that I just want to escape.

Well, who doesnít?

Everybody I know wants to escape, but they. donít wander down into any third level at

Grand Central Station.

But thatís the reason, he said, and my friends. all agreed.

Everything points to it, they claimed.

My stamp collecting, for example; thatís. a ëtemporary refuge from reality.í Well,

maybe, but my grandfather didnít need any. refuge from reality; things were pretty nice

and peaceful. in his day, from all I hear, and he started

my collection.

Itís a nice collection too, blocks of four. of practically every U.S. issue, first-day

covers, and so on.

President Roosevelt collected stamps too,. you know.

Anyway, hereís what happened at Grand Central.

One night last summer I worked late at the. office.

I was in a hurry to get uptown to my apartment. so I decided to take the subway from Grand

Central because itís faster than the bus.

Now, I donít know why this should have happened. to me.

Iím just an ordinary guy named Charley, thirty-one. years old, and I was wearing a tan gabardine

suit and a straw hat with a fancy band; I. passed a dozen men who looked just like me.

And I wasnít trying to escape from anything;. I just wanted to get home to Louisa, my wife.

I turned into Grand Central from Vanderbilt. Avenue, and went down the steps to the first

level, where you take trains like the Twentieth. Century.

Then I walked down another flight to the second. level, where the suburban trains leave from,

ducked into an arched doorway heading for. the subway ó and got lost.

Thatís easy to do.

Iíve been in and out of Grand Central hundreds. of times, but Iím always bumping into new

doorways and stairs and corridors.

Once I got into a tunnel about a mile long. and came out in the lobby of the Roosevelt

Hotel.

Another time I came up in an office building. on Forty-sixth Street, three blocks away.

Sometimes I think Grand Central is growing. like a tree, pushing out new corridors and

staircases like roots.

Thereís probably a long tunnel that nobody. knows about feeling its way under the city

right now, on its way to Times Square, and. maybe another to Central Park.

And maybe ó because for so many people through. the years Grand Central has been an exit,

a way of escape ó maybe thatís how the tunnel. I got into...

But I never told my psychiatrist friend about. that idea.

The corridor I was in, began angling left,. and slanting downward, and I thought that

was wrong, but I kept on walking.

All I could hear was the empty sound of my. own footsteps and I didnít pass a soul.

Then I heard that sort of hollow roar ahead. that means open space and people talking.

The tunnel turned sharp left; I went down. a short flight of stairs and came out on the

third level at Grand Central Station.

For just a moment I thought I was back on. the second level, but I saw the room was smaller,

there were fewer ticket windows and train. gates, and the information booth in the centre

was wood and oldlooking.

And the man in the booth wore a green eyeshade. and long black sleeve protectors.

The lights were dim and sort of flickering.

Then I saw why; they were open-flame gaslights.

There were brass spittoons on the floor, and. across the station a glint of light caught

my eye; a man was pulling a gold watch from. his vest pocket.

He snapped open the cover, glanced at his. watch and frowned.

He wore a derby hat, a black four-button suit. with tiny lapels, and he had a big, black,

handlebar mustache.

Then I looked around and saw that everyone. in the station was dressed like eighteen-ninety-something;

I never saw so many beards, sideburns and. fancy mustaches in my life.

A woman walked in through the train gate;. she wore a dress with leg-ofmutton sleeves

and skirts to the top of her high-buttoned. shoes.

Back of her, out on the tracks, I caught a. glimpse of a locomotive, a very small Currier

& Ives locomotive with a funnel-shaped stack.

And then I knew.

To make sure, I walked over to a newsboy and. glanced at the stack of papers at his feet.

It was The World; and The World hasnít been. published for years.

The lead story said something about President. Cleveland.

Iíve found that front page since, in the. Public Library files, and it was printed June

11, 1894.

I turned toward the ticket windows knowing. that here ó on the third level at Grand Central

ó I could buy tickets that would take Louisa. and me anywhere in the United States we wanted

to go.

In the year 1894.

And I wanted two tickets to Galesburg, Illinois.

Have you ever been there?

Itís a wonderful town still, with big old. frame houses, huge lawns, and tremendous trees

whose branches meet overhead and roof the. streets.

And in 1894, summer evenings were twice as. long, and people sat out on their lawns, the

men smoking cigars and talking quietly, the. women waving palm-leaf fans, with the fire-flies

all around, in a peaceful world.

To be back there with the First World War. still twenty years off, and World War II over

forty years in the future...

I wanted two. tickets for that.

The clerk figured the fare ó he glanced at. my fancy hatband, but he figured the fare

ó and I had enough for two coach tickets,. one way.

But when I counted out the money and looked. up, the clerk was staring at me.

He nodded at the bills.

ëëThat ainít money, mister, he said, ëëand. if youíre trying to skin me, you wonít get

very far, and he glanced at the cash drawer. beside him.

Of course the money was old-style bills, half. again as big as the money we use nowadays,

and different-looking.

I turned away and got out fast.

Thereís nothing nice about jail, even in. 1894.

And that was that.

I left the same way I came, I suppose.

Next day, during lunch hour, I drew three. hundred dollars out of the bank, nearly all

we had, and bought old-style currency (that. really worried my psychiatrist friend).

You can buy old money at almost any coin dealerís,. but you have to pay a premium.

My three hundred dollars bought less than. two hundred in old-style bills, but I didnít

care; eggs were thirteen cents a dozen in. 1894.

But Iíve never again found the corridor that. leads to the third level at Grand Central

Station, although Iíve tried often enough.

Louisa was pretty worried when I told her. all this, and didnít want me to look for

the third level any more, and after a while. I stopped; I went back to my stamps.

But now weíre both looking, every weekend,. because now we have proof that the third level

is still there.

My friend Sam Weiner disappeared!

Nobody knew where, but I sort of suspected. because Samís a city boy, and I used to tell

him about Galesburg ó I went to school there. ó and he always said he liked the sound of

the place.

And thatís where he is, all right.

In 1894.

Because one night, fussing with my stamp collection,. I found ó Well, do you know what a first-day

cover is?

When a new stamp is issued, stamp collectors. buy some

and use them to mail envelopes to themselves. on the very first day of sale; and the postmark

proves the date.

The envelope is called a first-day cover.

Theyíre never opened; you just put blank. paper in the envelope.

That night, among my oldest first-day covers,. I found one that shouldnít have been there.

But there it was.

It was there because someone had mailed it. to my grandfather at his home in Galesburg;

thatís what the address on the envelope said.

And it had been there since July 18, 1894. ó the postmark showed that ó yet I didnít

remember it at all.

The stamp was a six-cent, dull brown, with. a picture of President Garfield.

Naturally, when the envelope came to Granddad. in the mail, it went right into his collection

and stayed there ó till I took it out and. opened it.

The paper inside wasnít blank.

It read:

Charley,. I got to wishing that you were right.

Then I got to believing you were right.

And, Charley, itís true; I found the third. level!

Iíve been here two weeks, and right now,. down the street at the Dalyís, someone is

playing a piano, and theyíre all out on the. front porch singing, ëSeeing Nelly Home.í

And, Iím invited over for lemonade.

Come on back, Charley and Louisa.

Keep looking till you find the third level!

Itís worth it, believe me!

The note is signed, Sam.

At the stamp and coin store I go to, I found. out that Sam bought eight hundred dollarsí

worth of old-style currency.

That ought to set him up in a nice little. hay, feed and grain business; he always said

thatís what he really wished he could do,. and he certainly canít go back to his old

business.

Not in Galesburg, Illinois, in 1894.

His old business?

Why, Sam was my psychiatrist.

The End.