“Rise! And walk with me!”
It would have been in vain for Scrooge to plead that the weather and the hour were not adapted to pedestrian purposes; that bed was warm, and the thermometer a long way below freezing; that he was clad but lightly in his slippers, dressing-gown, and nightcap; and that he had made it his policy not to go anywhere with creatures of the underworld. The grasp, though gentle as a woman’s hand, was not to be resisted. He rose: but, finding that the Spirit made towards the window, clasped its robe in supplication.
“I am a mortal still,” Scrooge remonstrated, “and liable to fall. Is this your purpose?”
“Bear but a touch of my hand there,” said the Spirit, laying it upon his heart, “and you shall be upheld in more than this!” The coldness of the Spirit’s touch froze all words and protests on Scrooge’s lips. For a moment it seemed his very heart had stopped dead in his chest and the silence thundered in his ears.
The Spirit dragged him forward and they passed through the wall, and stood upon an open country road, with fields on either hand. The city had entirely vanished. Not a vestige of it was to be seen. The darkness and the mist had vanished with it, for it was a clear, cold, winter day, with the snow upon the ground.
“Good Heaven!” said Scrooge, clasping his hands together as he looked about him. “I was bred in this place. I was a boy here!” He rounded on the Spirit with a sharp look. “What business do you have in bringing me to this place?”
The Spirit gazed upon him mildly. Its cold touch, though it had been light and instantaneous, appeared still present to the old man’s sense of feeling, making him wary and somewhat short of breath. He was conscious of a thousand odours floating in the air, each one connected with a thousand thoughts, and hopes, and joys, and cares long, long forgotten!
“Your lip is trembling,” said the Ghost slyly. “And what is that upon your cheek?”
“You are unkind,” Scrooge muttered, “to use a man so.” Clearing his voice he continued louder, “Since we are here, we should be about this business, just to see an end of it, if nothing else!”
“You recollect the way?” inquired the Spirit.
“Remember it!” cried Scrooge with fervour; “I could walk it blindfold.”
“Strange to have forgotten it for so many years!” observed the Ghost. “Let us go on.”
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