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The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

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The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
Author of "The Mystery of the Yellow Room" and
"The Perfume of the Lady in Black"

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux



{plus a "bonus chapter" called "THE PARIS OPERA HOUSE"}

The Phantom of the Opera



The Opera ghost really existed. He was not, as was long believed,
a creature of the imagination of the artists, the superstition of
the managers, or a product of the absurd and impressionable brains
of the young ladies of the ballet, their mothers, the box-keepers,
the cloak-room attendants or the concierge. Yes, he existed
in flesh and blood, although he assumed the complete appearance
of a real phantom; that is to say, of a spectral shade.

When I began to ransack the archives of the National Academy of
Music I was at once struck by the surprising coincidences between
the phenomena ascribed to the "ghost" and the most extraordinary
and fantastic tragedy that ever excited the Paris upper classes;
and I soon conceived the idea that this tragedy might reasonably
be explained by the phenomena in question. The events do not
date more than thirty years back; and it would not be difficult
to find at the present day, in the foyer of the ballet, old men
of the highest respectability, men upon whose word one could
absolutely rely, who would remember as though they happened yesterday
the mysterious and dramatic conditions that attended the kidnapping
of Christine Daae, the disappearance of the Vicomte de Chagny
and the death of his elder brother, Count Philippe, whose body
was found on the bank of the lake that exists in the lower cellars
of the Opera on the Rue-Scribe side. But none of those witnesses
had until that day thought that there was any reason for connecting
the more or less legendary figure of the Opera ghost with that
terrible story.

The truth was slow to enter my mind, puzzled by an inquiry that
at every moment was complicated by events which, at first sight,
might be looked upon as superhuman; and more than once I was
within an ace of abandoning a task in which I was exhausting
myself in the hopeless pursuit of a vain image. At last,
I received the proof that my presentiments had not deceived me,
and I was rewarded for all my efforts on the day when I acquired
the certainty that the Opera ghost was more than a mere shade.

On that day, I had spent long hours over THE MEMOIRS OF A MANAGER,
the light and frivolous work of the too-skeptical Moncharmin, who,
during his term at the Opera, understood nothing of the mysterious
behavior of the ghost and who was making all the fun of it that he
could at the very moment when he became the first victim of the
curious financial operation that went on inside the "magic envelope."

I had just left the library in despair, when I met the delightful
acting-manager of our National Academy, who stood chatting on a landing
with a lively and well-groomed little old man, to whom he introduced
me gaily. The acting-manager knew all about my investigations
and how eagerly and unsuccessfully I had been trying to discover
the whereabouts of the examining magistrate in the famous Chagny case,
M. Faure. Nobody knew what had become of him, alive or dead;
and here he was back from Canada, where he had spent fifteen years,
and the first thing he had done, on his return to Paris, was to come
to the secretarial offices at the Opera and ask for a free seat.
The little old man was M. Faure himself.

We spent a good part of the evening together and he told me the whole
Chagny case as he had understood it at the time. He was bound to
conclude in favor of the madness of the viscount and the accidental
death of the elder brother, for lack of evidence to the contrary;
but he was nevertheless persuaded that a terrible tragedy had taken
place between the two brothers in connection with Christine Daae.
He could not tell me what became of Christine or the viscount.
When I mentioned the ghost, he only laughed. He, too, had been told
of the curious manifestations that seemed to point to the existence
of an abnormal being, residing in one of the most mysterious
corners of the Opera, and he knew the story of the envelope;
but he had never seen anything in it worthy of his attention
as magistrate in charge of the Chagny case, and it was as much
as he had done to listen to the evidence of a witness who appeared
of his own accord and declared that he had often met the ghost.
This witness was none other than the man whom all Paris called the
"Persian" and who was well-known to every subscriber to the Opera.
The magistrate took him for a visionary.

I was immensely interested by this story of the Persian. I wanted,
if there were still time, to find this valuable and eccentric witness.
My luck began to improve and I discovered him in his little flat
in the Rue de Rivoli, where he had lived ever since and where he died
five months after my visit. I was at first inclined to be suspicious;
but when the Persian had told me, with child-like candor,
all that he knew about the ghost and had handed me the proofs
of the ghost's existence--including the strange correspondence
of Christine Daae--to do as I pleased with, I was no longer able
to doubt. No, the ghost was not a myth!

I have, I know, been told that this correspondence may have been
forged from first to last by a man whose imagination had certainly
been fed on the most seductive tales; but fortunately I discovered
some of Christine's writing outside the famous bundle of letters and,
on a comparison between the two, all my doubts were removed.
I also went into the past history of the Persian and found that he
was an upright man, incapable of inventing a story that might have
defeated the ends of justice.

This, moreover, was the opinion of the more serious people who,
at one time or other, were mixed up in the Chagny case, who were
friends of the Chagny family, to whom I showed all my documents
and set forth all my inferences. In this connection, I should
like to print a few lines which I received from General D------:


I can not urge you too strongly to publish the results of your inquiry.
I remember perfectly that, a few weeks before the disappearance
of that great singer, Christine Daae, and the tragedy which
threw the whole of the Faubourg Saint-Germain into mourning,
there was a great deal of talk, in the foyer of the ballet,
on the subject of the "ghost;" and I believe that it only ceased
to be discussed in consequence of the later affair that excited us
all so greatly. But, if it be possible--as, after hearing you,
I believe--to explain the tragedy through the ghost, then I
beg you sir, to talk to us about the ghost again.

Mysterious though the ghost may at first appear, he will always
be more easily explained than the dismal story in which malevolent
people have tried to picture two brothers killing each other
who had worshiped each other all their lives.

Believe me, etc.

Lastly, with my bundle of papers in hand, I once more went over
the ghost's vast domain, the huge building which he had made
his kingdom. All that my eyes saw, all that my mind perceived,
corroborated the Persian's documents precisely; and a wonderful
discovery crowned my labors in a very definite fashion. It will be
remembered that, later, when digging in the substructure of the Opera,
before burying the phonographic records of the artist's voice,
the workmen laid bare a corpse. Well, I was at once able
to prove that this corpse was that of the Opera ghost. I made
the acting-manager put this proof to the test with his own hand;
and it is now a matter of supreme indifference to me if the papers
pretend that the body was that of a victim of the Commune.

The wretches who were massacred, under the Commune, in the cellars
of the Opera, were not buried on this side; I will tell where their
skeletons can be found in a spot not very far from that immense crypt
which was stocked during the siege with all sorts of provisions.
I came upon this track just when I was looking for the remains
of the Opera ghost, which I should never have discovered but for
the unheard-of chance described above.

But we will return to the corpse and what ought to be done with it.
For the present, I must conclude this very necessary introduction
by thanking M. Mifroid (who was the commissary of police called in for
the first investigations after the disappearance of Christine Daae),
M. Remy, the late secretary, M. Mercier, the late acting-manager,
M. Gabriel, the late chorus-master, and more particularly Mme. la
Baronne de Castelot-Barbezac, who was once the "little Meg"
of the story (and who is not ashamed of it), the most charming star
of our admirable corps de ballet, the eldest daughter of the worthy
Mme. Giry, now deceased, who had charge of the ghost's private box.
All these were of the greatest assistance to me; and, thanks to them,
I shall be able to reproduce those hours of sheer love and terror,
in their smallest details, before the reader's eyes.

And I should be ungrateful indeed if I omitted, while standing
on the threshold of this dreadful and veracious story, to thank
the present management the Opera, which has so kindly assisted me
in all my inquiries, and M. Messager in particular, together with
M. Gabion, the acting-manager, and that most amiable of men,
the architect intrusted with the preservation of the building,
who did not hesitate to lend me the works of Charles Garnier,
although he was almost sure that I would never return them to him.
Lastly, I must pay a public tribute to the generosity of my friend
and former collaborator, M. J. Le Croze, who allowed me to dip
into his splendid theatrical library and to borrow the rarest
editions of books by which he set great store.


Chapter I Is it the Ghost?

It was the evening on which MM. Debienne and Poligny, the managers of
the Opera, were giving a last gala performance to mark their retirement.
Suddenly the dressing-room of La Sorelli, one of the principal dancers,
was invaded by half-a-dozen young ladies of the ballet, who had come
up from the stage after "dancing" Polyeucte. They rushed in amid
great confusion, some giving vent to forced and unnatural laughter,
others to cries of terror. Sorelli, who wished to be alone for a moment
to "run through" the speech which she was to make to the resigning
managers, looked around angrily at the mad and tumultuous crowd.
It was little Jammes--the girl with the tip-tilted nose,
the forget-me-not eyes, the rose-red cheeks and the lily-white
neck and shoulders--who gave the explanation in a trembling voice:

"It's the ghost!" And she locked the door.

Sorelli's dressing-room was fitted up with official, commonplace elegance.
A pier-glass, a sofa, a dressing-table and a cupboard or two provided
the necessary furniture. On the walls hung a few engravings,
relics of the mother, who had known the glories of the old Opera in
the Rue le Peletier; portraits of Vestris, Gardel, Dupont, Bigottini.
But the room seemed a palace to the brats of the corps de ballet,
who were lodged in common dressing-rooms where they spent their
time singing, quarreling, smacking the dressers and hair-dressers
and buying one another glasses of cassis, beer, or even rhum,
until the call-boy's bell rang.

Sorelli was very superstitious. She shuddered when she heard
little Jammes speak of the ghost, called her a "silly little fool"
and then, as she was the first to believe in ghosts in general,
and the Opera ghost in particular, at once asked for details:

"Have you seen him?"

"As plainly as I see you now!" said little Jammes, whose legs were
giving way beneath her, and she dropped with a moan into a chair.

Thereupon little Giry--the girl with eyes black as sloes,
hair black as ink, a swarthy complexion and a poor little skin
stretched over poor little bones--little Giry added:

"If that's the ghost, he's very ugly!"

"Oh, yes!" cried the chorus of ballet-girls.

And they all began to talk together. The ghost had appeared to them
in the shape of a gentleman in dress-clothes, who had suddenly stood
before them in the passage, without their knowing where he came from.
He seemed to have come straight through the wall.

"Pooh!" said one of them, who had more or less kept her head.
"You see the ghost everywhere!"

And it was true. For several months, there had been nothing discussed
at the Opera but this ghost in dress-clothes who stalked about
the building, from top to bottom, like a shadow, who spoke to nobody,
to whom nobody dared speak and who vanished as soon as he was seen,
no one knowing how or where. As became a real ghost, he made no noise
in walking. People began by laughing and making fun of this specter
dressed like a man of fashion or an undertaker; but the ghost legend
soon swelled to enormous proportions among the corps de ballet.
All the girls pretended to have met this supernatural being more
or less often. And those who laughed the loudest were not the most
at ease. When he did not show himself, he betrayed his presence
or his passing by accident, comic or serious, for which the general
superstition held him responsible. Had any one met with a fall,
or suffered a practical joke at the hands of one of the other girls,
or lost a powderpuff, it was at once the fault of the ghost,
of the Opera ghost.

After all, who had seen him? You meet so many men in dress-clothes
at the Opera who are not ghosts. But this dress-suit had
a peculiarity of its own. It covered a skeleton. At least,
so the ballet-girls said. And, of course, it had a death's head.

Was all this serious? The truth is that the idea of the skeleton
came from the description of the ghost given by Joseph Buquet,
the chief scene-shifter, who had really seen the ghost. He had run
up against the ghost on the little staircase, by the footlights,
which leads to "the cellars." He had seen him for a second--
for the ghost had fled--and to any one who cared to listen to him
he said:

"He is extraordinarily thin and his dress-coat hangs on a skeleton frame.
His eyes are so deep that you can hardly see the fixed pupils.
You just see two big black holes, as in a dead man's skull.
His skin, which is stretched across his bones like a drumhead,
is not white, but a nasty yellow. His nose is so little worth
talking about that you can't see it side-face; and THE ABSENCE
of that nose is a horrible thing TO LOOK AT. All the hair he
has is three or four long dark locks on his forehead and behind
his ears."

This chief scene-shifter was a serious, sober, steady man,
very slow at imagining things. His words were received with interest
and amazement; and soon there were other people to say that they too
had met a man in dress-clothes with a death's head on his shoulders.
Sensible men who had wind of the story began by saying that Joseph
Buquet had been the victim of a joke played by one of his assistants.
And then, one after the other, there came a series of incidents
so curious and so inexplicable that the very shrewdest people began
to feel uneasy.

For instance, a fireman is a brave fellow! He fears nothing,
least of all fire! Well, the fireman in question, who had gone
to make a round of inspection in the cellars and who, it seems,
had ventured a little farther than usual, suddenly reappeared on
the stage, pale, scared, trembling, with his eyes starting out of
his head, and practically fainted in the arms of the proud mother
of little Jammes.[1] And why? Because he had seen coming toward him,
A HEAD OF FIRE! And, as I said, a fireman is not afraid of fire.


[1] I have the anecdote, which is quite authentic, from M. Pedro
Gailhard himself, the late manager of the Opera.

The fireman's name was Pampin.

The corps de ballet was flung into consternation. At first sight,
this fiery head in no way corresponded with Joseph Buquet's
description of the ghost. But the young ladies soon persuaded
themselves that the ghost had several heads, which he changed about
as he pleased. And, of course, they at once imagined that they
were in the greatest danger. Once a fireman did not hesitate
to faint, leaders and front-row and back-row girls alike had plenty
of excuses for the fright that made them quicken their pace when
passing some dark corner or ill-lighted corridor. Sorelli herself,
on the day after the adventure of the fireman, placed a horseshoe
on the table in front of the stage-door-keeper's box, which every
one who entered the Opera otherwise than as a spectator must
touch before setting foot on the first tread of the staircase.
This horse-shoe was not invented by me--any more than any other
part of this story, alas!--and may still be seen on the table
in the passage outside the stage-door-keeper's box, when you enter
the Opera through the court known as the Cour de l'Administration.

To return to the evening in question.

"It's the ghost!" little Jammes had cried.

An agonizing silence now reigned in the dressing-room. Nothing
was heard but the hard breathing of the girls. At last, Jammes,
flinging herself upon the farthest corner of the wall, with every
mark of real terror on her face, whispered:


Everybody seemed to hear a rustling outside the door. There was no
sound of footsteps. It was like light silk sliding over the panel.
Then it stopped.

Sorelli tried to show more pluck than the others. She went up
to the door and, in a quavering voice, asked:

"Who's there?"

But nobody answered. Then feeling all eyes upon her, watching her
last movement, she made an effort to show courage, and said very loudly:

"Is there any one behind the door?"

"Oh, yes, yes! Of course there is!" cried that little dried plum
of a Meg Giry, heroically holding Sorelli back by her gauze skirt.
"Whatever you do, don't open the door! Oh, Lord, don't open
the door!"

But Sorelli, armed with a dagger that never left her, turned the key
and drew back the door, while the ballet-girls retreated to the inner
dressing-room and Meg Giry sighed:

"Mother! Mother!"

Sorelli looked into the passage bravely. It was empty;
a gas-flame, in its glass prison, cast a red and suspicious light
into the surrounding darkness, without succeeding in dispelling it.
And the dancer slammed the door again, with a deep sigh.

"No," she said, "there is no one there."

"Still, we saw him!" Jammes declared, returning with timid little steps
to her place beside Sorelli. "He must be somewhere prowling about.
I shan't go back to dress. We had better all go down to the foyer
together, at once, for the `speech,' and we will come up again together."

And the child reverently touched the little coral finger-ring which
she wore as a charm against bad luck, while Sorelli, stealthily,
with the tip of her pink right thumb-nail, made a St. Andrew's cross
on the wooden ring which adorned the fourth finger of her left hand.
She said to the little ballet-girls:

"Come, children, pull yourselves together! I dare say no one has
ever seen the ghost."

"Yes, yes, we saw him--we saw him just now!" cried the girls.
"He had his death's head and his dress-coat, just as when he appeared
to Joseph Buquet!"

"And Gabriel saw him too!" said Jammes. "Only yesterday!
Yesterday afternoon--in broad day-light----"

"Gabriel, the chorus-master?"

"Why, yes, didn't you know?"

"And he was wearing his dress-clothes, in broad daylight?"

"Who? Gabriel?"

"Why, no, the ghost!"

"Certainly! Gabriel told me so himself. That's what he knew him by.
Gabriel was in the stage-manager's office. Suddenly the door opened
and the Persian entered. You know the Persian has the evil eye----"

"Oh, yes!" answered the little ballet-girls in chorus, warding off
ill-luck by pointing their forefinger and little finger at the absent
Persian, while their second and third fingers were bent on the palm
and held down by the thumb.

"And you know how superstitious Gabriel is," continued Jammes.
"However, he is always polite. When he meets the Persian, he just
puts his hand in his pocket and touches his keys. Well, the moment
the Persian appeared in the doorway, Gabriel gave one jump from
his chair to the lock of the cupboard, so as to touch iron!
In doing so, he tore a whole skirt of his overcoat on a nail.
Hurrying to get out of the room, he banged his forehead against a
hat-peg and gave himself a huge bump; then, suddenly stepping back,
he skinned his arm on the screen, near the piano; he tried to lean
on the piano, but the lid fell on his hands and crushed his fingers;
he rushed out of the office like a madman, slipped on the staircase
and came down the whole of the first flight on his back.
I was just passing with mother. We picked him up. He was covered
with bruises and his face was all over blood. We were frightened out
of our lives, but, all at once, he began to thank Providence that he
had got off so cheaply. Then he told us what had frightened him.
He had seen the ghost behind the Persian, THE GHOST WITH THE DEATH'S
HEAD just like Joseph Buquet's description!"

Jammes had told her story ever so quickly, as though the ghost
were at her heels, and was quite out of breath at the finish.
A silence followed, while Sorelli polished her nails in great excitement.
It was broken by little Giry, who said:

"Joseph Buquet would do better to hold his tongue."

"Why should he hold his tongue?" asked somebody.

"That's mother's opinion," replied Meg, lowering her voice
and looking all about her as though fearing lest other ears
than those present might overhear.

"And why is it your mother's opinion?"

"Hush! Mother says the ghost doesn't like being talked about."

"And why does your mother say so?"


This reticence exasperated the curiosity of the young ladies,
who crowded round little Giry, begging her to explain herself.
They were there, side by side, leaning forward simultaneously
in one movement of entreaty and fear, communicating their terror
to one another, taking a keen pleasure in feeling their blood freeze
in their veins.

"I swore not to tell!" gasped Meg.

But they left her no peace and promised to keep the secret, until Meg,
burning to say all she knew, began, with her eyes fixed on the door:

"Well, it's because of the private box."

"What private box?"

"The ghost's box!"

"Has the ghost a box? Oh, do tell us, do tell us!"

"Not so loud!" said Meg. "It's Box Five, you know, the box
on the grand tier, next to the stage-box, on the left."

"Oh, nonsense!"

"I tell you it is. Mother has charge of it. But you swear you
won't say a word?"

"Of course, of course."

"Well, that's the ghost's box. No one has had it for over a month,
except the ghost, and orders have been given at the box-office
that it must never be sold."

"And does the ghost really come there?"


"Then somebody does come?"

"Why, no! The ghost comes, but there is nobody there."

The little ballet-girls exchanged glances. If the ghost came to the box,
he must be seen, because he wore a dress-coat and a death's head.
This was what they tried to make Meg understand, but she replied:

"That's just it! The ghost is not seen. And he has no dress-coat
and no head! All that talk about his death's head and his head of
fire is nonsense! There's nothing in it. You only hear him when he
is in the box. Mother has never seen him, but she has heard him.
Mother knows, because she gives him his program."

Sorelli interfered.

"Giry, child, you're getting at us!"

Thereupon little Giry began to cry.

"I ought to have held my tongue--if mother ever came to know!
But I was quite right, Joseph Buquet had no business to talk
of things that don't concern him--it will bring him bad luck--
mother was saying so last night----"

There was a sound of hurried and heavy footsteps in the passage
and a breathless voice cried:

"Cecile! Cecile! Are you there?"

"It's mother's voice," said Jammes. "What's the matter?"

She opened the door. A respectable lady, built on the lines of a
Pomeranian grenadier, burst into the dressing-room and dropped groaning
into a vacant arm-chair. Her eyes rolled madly in her brick-dust colored

"How awful!" she said. "How awful!"

"What? What?"

"Joseph Buquet!"

"What about him?"

"Joseph Buquet is dead!"

The room became filled with exclamations, with astonished outcries,
with scared requests for explanations.

"Yes, he was found hanging in the third-floor cellar!"

"It's the ghost!" little Giry blurted, as though in spite of herself;
but she at once corrected herself, with her hands pressed to her mouth:
"No, no!--I, didn't say it!--I didn't say it!----"

All around her, her panic-stricken companions repeated under
their breaths:

"Yes--it must be the ghost!"

Sorelli was very pale.

"I shall never be able to recite my speech," she said.

Ma Jammes gave her opinion, while she emptied a glass of liqueur
that happened to be standing on a table; the ghost must have
something to do with it.

The truth is that no one ever knew how Joseph Buquet met his death.
The verdict at the inquest was "natural suicide." In his Memoirs
of Manager, M. Moncharmin, one of the joint managers who succeeded MM.
Debienne and Poligny, describes the incident as follows:

"A grievous accident spoiled the little party which MM.
Debienne and Poligny gave to celebrate their retirement. I was
in the manager's office, when Mercier, the acting-manager, suddenly
came darting in. He seemed half mad and told me that the body
of a scene-shifter had been found hanging in the third cellar under
the stage, between a farm-house and a scene from the Roi de Lahore.
I shouted:

"`Come and cut him down!'

"By the time I had rushed down the staircase and the Jacob's ladder,
the man was no longer hanging from his rope!"

So this is an event which M. Moncharmin thinks natural. A man
hangs at the end of a rope; they go to cut him down; the rope
has disappeared. Oh, M. Moncharmin found a very simple explanation!
Listen to him:

"It was just after the ballet; and leaders and dancing-girls lost
no time in taking their precautions against the evil eye."

There you are! Picture the corps de ballet scuttling down the
Jacob's ladder and dividing the suicide's rope among themselves
in less time than it takes to write! When, on the other hand,
I think of the exact spot where the body was discovered--
the third cellar underneath the stage!--imagine that SOMEBODY
must have been interested in seeing that the rope disappeared
after it had effected its purpose; and time will show if I am wrong.

The horrid news soon spread all over the Opera, where Joseph Buquet
was very popular. The dressing-rooms emptied and the ballet-girls,
crowding around Sorelli like timid sheep around their shepherdess,
made for the foyer through the ill-lit passages and staircases,
trotting as fast as their little pink legs could carry them.

Chapter II The New Margarita

On the first landing, Sorelli ran against the Comte de Chagny,
who was coming up-stairs. The count, who was generally so calm,
seemed greatly excited.

"I was just going to you," he said, taking off his hat. "Oh, Sorelli,
what an evening! And Christine Daae: what a triumph!"

"Impossible!" said Meg Giry. "Six months ago, she used to sing like
a CROCK! But do let us get by, my dear count," continues the brat,
with a saucy curtsey. "We are going to inquire after a poor man
who was found hanging by the neck."

Just then the acting-manager came fussing past and stopped when he
heard this remark.

"What!" he exclaimed roughly. "Have you girls heard already?
Well, please forget about it for tonight--and above all don't let
M. Debienne and M. Poligny hear; it would upset them too much
on their last day."

They all went on to the foyer of the ballet, which was already full
of people. The Comte de Chagny was right; no gala performance ever
equalled this one. All the great composers of the day had conducted their
own works in turns. Faure and Krauss had sung; and, on that evening,
Christine Daae had revealed her true self, for the first time,
to the astonished and enthusiastic audience. Gounod had conducted
the Funeral March of a Marionnette; Reyer, his beautiful overture
to Siguar; Saint Saens, the Danse Macabre and a Reverie Orientale;
Massenet, an unpublished Hungarian march; Guiraud, his Carnaval;
Delibes, the Valse Lente from Sylvia and the Pizzicati from Coppelia.
Mlle. Krauss had sung the bolero in the Vespri Siciliani;
and Mlle. Denise Bloch the drinking song in Lucrezia Borgia.

But the real triumph was reserved for Christine Daae, who had
begun by singing a few passages from Romeo and Juliet. It was
the first time that the young artist sang in this work of Gounod,
which had not been transferred to the Opera and which was revived
at the Opera Comique after it had been produced at the old Theatre
Lyrique by Mme. Carvalho. Those who heard her say that her voice,
in these passages, was seraphic; but this was nothing to the superhuman
notes that she gave forth in the prison scene and the final trio
in FAUST, which she sang in the place of La Carlotta, who was ill.
No one had ever heard or seen anything like it.

Daae revealed a new Margarita that night, a Margarita of a splendor,
a radiance hitherto unsuspected. The whole house went mad,
rising to its feet, shouting, cheering, clapping, while Christine
sobbed and fainted in the arms of her fellow-singers and had to be
carried to her dressing-room. A few subscribers, however, protested.
Why had so great a treasure been kept from them all that time?
Till then, Christine Daae had played a good Siebel to Carlotta's
rather too splendidly material Margarita. And it had needed
Carlotta's incomprehensible and inexcusable absence from this gala
night for the little Daae, at a moment's warning, to show all that she
could do in a part of the program reserved for the Spanish diva!
Well, what the subscribers wanted to know was, why had Debienne
and Poligny applied to Daae, when Carlotta was taken ill? Did they
know of her hidden genius? And, if they knew of it, why had they
kept it hidden? And why had she kept it hidden? Oddly enough,
she was not known to have a professor of singing at that moment.
She had often said she meant to practise alone for the future.
The whole thing was a mystery.

The Comte de Chagny, standing up in his box, listened to all this
frenzy and took part in it by loudly applauding. Philippe Georges
Marie Comte de Chagny was just forty-one years of age.
He was a great aristocrat and a good-looking man, above middle
height and with attractive features, in spite of his hard forehead
and his rather cold eyes. He was exquisitely polite to the women
and a little haughty to the men, who did not always forgive him
for his successes in society. He had an excellent heart and an
irreproachable conscience. On the death of old Count Philibert,
he became the head of one of the oldest and most distinguished
families in France, whose arms dated back to the fourteenth century.
The Chagnys owned a great deal of property; and, when the old count,
who was a widower, died, it was no easy task for Philippe to accept
the management of so large an estate. His two sisters and his
brother, Raoul, would not hear of a division and waived their claim
to their shares, leaving themselves entirely in Philippe's hands,
as though the right of primogeniture had never ceased to exist.
When the two sisters married, on the same day, they received their
portion from their brother, not as a thing rightfully belonging
to them, but as a dowry for which they thanked him.

The Comtesse de Chagny, nee de Moerogis de La Martyniere, had died in
giving birth to Raoul, who was born twenty years after his elder brother.
At the time of the old count's death, Raoul was twelve years of age.
Philippe busied himself actively with the youngster's education.
He was admirably assisted in this work first by his sisters
and afterward by an old aunt, the widow of a naval officer,
who lived at Brest and gave young Raoul a taste for the sea.
The lad entered the Borda training-ship, finished his course
with honors and quietly made his trip round the world. Thanks to
powerful influence, he had just been appointed a member of the official
expedition on board the Requin, which was to be sent to the Arctic
Circle in search of the survivors of the D'Artoi's expedition,
of whom nothing had been heard for three years. Meanwhile, he was
enjoying a long furlough which would not be over for six months;
and already the dowagers of the Faubourg Saint-Germain were pitying
the handsome and apparently delicate stripling for the hard work
in store for him.

The shyness of the sailor-lad--I was almost saying his innocence--
was remarkable. He seemed to have but just left the women's
apron-strings. As a matter of fact, petted as he was by his two
sisters and his old aunt, he had retained from this purely feminine
education manners that were almost candid and stamped with a charm
that nothing had yet been able to sully. He was a little over
twenty-one years of age and looked eighteen. He had a small,
fair mustache, beautiful blue eyes and a complexion like a girl's.

Philippe spoiled Raoul. To begin with, he was very proud of him
and pleased to foresee a glorious career for his junior in the navy
in which one of their ancestors, the famous Chagny de La Roche,
had held the rank of admiral. He took advantage of the young
man's leave of absence to show him Paris, with all its luxurious
and artistic delights. The count considered that, at Raoul's age,
it is not good to be too good. Philippe himself had a character
that was very well-balanced in work and pleasure alike;
his demeanor was always faultless; and he was incapable of setting
his brother a bad example. He took him with him wherever he went.
He even introduced him to the foyer of the ballet. I know that
the count was said to be "on terms" with Sorelli. But it could
hardly be reckoned as a crime for this nobleman, a bachelor,
with plenty of leisure, especially since his sisters were settled,
to come and spend an hour or two after dinner in the company
of a dancer, who, though not so very, very witty, had the finest
eyes that ever were seen! And, besides, there are places where
a true Parisian, when he has the rank of the Comte de Chagny,
is bound to show himself; and at that time the foyer of the ballet
at the Opera was one of those places.

Lastly, Philippe would perhaps not have taken his brother behind
the scenes of the Opera if Raoul had not been the first to ask him,
repeatedly renewing his request with a gentle obstinacy which
the count remembered at a later date.

On that evening, Philippe, after applauding the Daae, turned to
Raoul and saw that he was quite pale.

"Don't you see," said Raoul, "that the woman's fainting?"

"You look like fainting yourself," said the count. "What's the matter?"

But Raoul had recovered himself and was standing up.

"Let's go and see," he said, "she never sang like that before."

The count gave his brother a curious smiling glance and seemed quite
pleased. They were soon at the door leading from the house to the stage.
Numbers of subscribers were slowly making their way through.
Raoul tore his gloves without knowing what he was doing and Philippe
had much too kind a heart to laugh at him for his impatience.
But he now understood why Raoul was absent-minded when spoken to
and why he always tried to turn every conversation to the subject
of the Opera.

They reached the stage and pushed through the crowd of gentlemen,
scene-shifters, supers and chorus-girls, Raoul leading the way,
feeling that his heart no longer belonged to him, his face set
with passion, while Count Philippe followed him with difficulty
and continued to smile. At the back of the stage, Raoul had to stop
before the inrush of the little troop of ballet-girls who blocked
the passage which he was trying to enter. More than one chaffing
phrase darted from little made-up lips, to which he did not reply;
and at last he was able to pass, and dived into the semi-darkness
of a corridor ringing with the name of "Daae! Daae!" The count
was surprised to find that Raoul knew the way. He had never taken
him to Christine's himself and came to the conclusion that Raoul must
have gone there alone while the count stayed talking in the foyer
with Sorelli, who often asked him to wait until it was her time to
"go on" and sometimes handed him the little gaiters in which she ran
down from her dressing-room to preserve the spotlessness of her satin
dancing-shoes and her flesh-colored tights. Sorelli had an excuse;
she had lost her mother.

Postponing his usual visit to Sorelli for a few minutes, the count
followed his brother down the passage that led to Daae's dressing-room
and saw that it had never been so crammed as on that evening,
when the whole house seemed excited by her success and also by her
fainting fit. For the girl had not yet come to; and the doctor
of the theater had just arrived at the moment when Raoul entered
at his heels. Christine, therefore, received the first aid
of the one, while opening her eyes in the arms of the other.
The count and many more remained crowding in the doorway.

"Don't you think, Doctor, that those gentlemen had better clear
the room?" asked Raoul coolly. "There's no breathing here."

"You're quite right," said the doctor.

And he sent every one away, except Raoul and the maid, who looked
at Raoul with eyes of the most undisguised astonishment.
She had never seen him before and yet dared not question him;
and the doctor imagined that the young man was only acting as he did
because he had the right to. The viscount, therefore, remained in
the room watching Christine as she slowly returned to life,
while even the joint managers, Debienne and Poligny, who had come
to offer their sympathy and congratulations, found themselves thrust
into the passage among the crowd of dandies. The Comte de Chagny,
who was one of those standing outside, laughed:

"Oh, the rogue, the rogue!" And he added, under his breath:
"Those youngsters with their school-girl airs! So he's a Chagny
after all!"

He turned to go to Sorelli's dressing-room, but met her on the way,
with her little troop of trembling ballet-girls, as we have seen.

Meanwhile, Christine Daae uttered a deep sigh, which was answered
by a groan. She turned her head, saw Raoul and started. She looked
at the doctor, on whom she bestowed a smile, then at her maid,
then at Raoul again.

"Monsieur," she said, in a voice not much above a whisper,
"who are you?"

"Mademoiselle," replied the young man, kneeling on one knee
and pressing a fervent kiss on the diva's hand, "I AM THE LITTLE

Christine again looked at the doctor and the maid; and all three
began to laugh.

Raoul turned very red and stood up.

"Mademoiselle," he said, "since you are pleased not to recognize me, I
should like to say something to you in private, something very important."

"When I am better, do you mind?" And her voice shook. "You have
been very good."

"Yes, you must go," said the doctor, with his pleasantest smile.
"Leave me to attend to mademoiselle."

"I am not ill now," said Christine suddenly, with strange
and unexpected energy.

She rose and passed her hand over her eyelids.

"Thank you, Doctor. I should like to be alone. Please go away,
all of you. Leave me. I feel very restless this evening."

The doctor tried to make a short protest, but, perceiving the girl's
evident agitation, he thought the best remedy was not to thwart her.
And he went away, saying to Raoul, outside:

"She is not herself to-night. She is usually so gentle."

Then he said good night and Raoul was left alone. The whole of this
part of the theater was now deserted. The farewell ceremony was no
doubt taking place in the foyer of the ballet. Raoul thought that
Daae might go to it and he waited in the silent solitude, even hiding
in the favoring shadow of a doorway. He felt a terrible pain at his
heart and it was of this that he wanted to speak to Daae without delay.

Suddenly the dressing-room door opened and the maid came out by herself,
carrying bundles. He stopped her and asked how her mistress was.
The woman laughed and said that she was quite well, but that he
must not disturb her, for she wished to be left alone. And she
passed on. One idea alone filled Raoul's burning brain: of course,
Daae wished to be left alone FOR HIM! Had he not told her that he
wanted to speak to her privately?

Hardly breathing, he went up to the dressing-room and, with his
ear to the door to catch her reply, prepared to knock. But his
hand dropped. He had heard A MAN'S VOICE in the dressing-room, saying,
in a curiously masterful tone:

"Christine, you must love me!"

And Christine's voice, infinitely sad and trembling, as though
accompanied by tears, replied:

"How can you talk like that? WHEN I SING ONLY FOR YOU!"

Raoul leaned against the panel to ease his pain. His heart, which
had seemed gone for ever, returned to his breast and was throbbing
loudly. The whole passage echoed with its beating and Raoul's ears
were deafened. Surely, if his heart continued to make such a noise,
they would hear it inside, they would open the door and the young
man would be turned away in disgrace. What a position for a Chagny!
To be caught listening behind a door! He took his heart in his two hands
to make it stop.

The man's voice spoke again: "Are you very tired?"

"Oh, to-night I gave you my soul and I am dead!" Christine replied.

"Your soul is a beautiful thing, child," replied the grave man's voice,
"and I thank you. No emperor ever received so fair a gift.

Raoul heard nothing after that. Nevertheless, he did not go away,
but, as though he feared lest he should be caught, he returned to
his dark corner, determined to wait for the man to leave the room.
At one and the same time, he had learned what love meant, and hatred.
He knew that he loved. He wanted to know whom he hated. To his
great astonishment, the door opened and Christine Daae appeared,
wrapped in furs, with her face hidden in a lace veil, alone. She closed
the door behind her, but Raoul observed that she did not lock it.
She passed him. He did not even follow her with his eyes, for his
eyes were fixed on the door, which did not open again.

When the passage was once more deserted, he crossed it,
opened the door of the dressing-room, went in and shut the door.
He found himself in absolute darkness. The gas had been turned out.

"There is some one here!" said Raoul, with his back against
the closed door, in a quivering voice. "What are you hiding for?"

All was darkness and silence. Raoul heard only the sound of his
own breathing. He quite failed to see that the indiscretion
of his conduct was exceeding all bounds.

"You shan't leave this until I let you!" he exclaimed. "If you
don't answer, you are a coward! But I'll expose you!"

And he struck a match. The blaze lit up the room. There was no
one in the room! Raoul, first turning the key in the door, lit the
gas-jets. He went into the dressing-closet, opened the cupboards,
hunted about, felt the walls with his moist hands. Nothing!

"Look here!" he said, aloud. "Am I going mad?"

He stood for ten minutes listening to the gas flaring in the silence
of the empty room; lover though he was, he did not even think of stealing
a ribbon that would have given him the perfume of the woman he loved.
He went out, not knowing what he was doing nor where he was going.
At a given moment in his wayward progress, an icy draft struck
him in the face. He found himself at the bottom of a staircase,
down which, behind him, a procession of workmen were carrying a sort
of stretcher, covered with a white sheet.

"Which is the way out, please?" he asked of one of the men.

"Straight in front of you, the door is open. But let us pass."

Pointing to the stretcher, he asked mechanically: "What's that?"

The workmen answered:

"`That' is Joseph Buquet, who was found in the third cellar,
hanging between a farm-house and a scene from the ROI DE LAHORE."

He took off his hat, fell back to make room for the procession
and went out.

Chapter III The Mysterious Reason

During this time, the farewell ceremony was taking place.
I have already said that this magnificent function was being given
on the occasion of the retirement of M. Debienne and M. Poligny,
who had determined to "die game," as we say nowadays. They had been
assisted in the realization of their ideal, though melancholy,
program by all that counted in the social and artistic world of Paris.
All these people met, after the performance, in the foyer of the ballet,
where Sorelli waited for the arrival of the retiring managers
with a glass of champagne in her hand and a little prepared speech
at the tip of her tongue. Behind her, the members of the Corps
de Ballet, young and old, discussed the events of the day in whispers
or exchanged discreet signals with their friends, a noisy crowd
of whom surrounded the supper-tables arranged along the slanting floor.

A few of the dancers had already changed into ordinary dress; but most
of them wore their skirts of gossamer gauze; and all had thought it
the right thing to put on a special face for the occasion: all, that is,
except little Jammes, whose fifteen summers--happy age!--seemed already
to have forgotten the ghost and the death of Joseph Buquet. She never
ceased to laugh and chatter, to hop about and play practical jokes,
until Mm. Debienne and Poligny appeared on the steps of the foyer,
when she was severely called to order by the impatient Sorelli.

Everybody remarked that the retiring managers looked cheerful,
as is the Paris way. None will ever be a true Parisian who has
not learned to wear a mask of gaiety over his sorrows and one
of sadness, boredom or indifference over his inward joy. You know
that one of your friends is in trouble; do not try to console him:
he will tell you that he is already comforted; but, should he have met
with good fortune, be careful how you congratulate him: he thinks
it so natural that he is surprised that you should speak of it.
In Paris, our lives are one masked ball; and the foyer of the ballet
is the last place in which two men so "knowing" as M. Debienne
and M. Poligny would have made the mistake of betraying their grief,
however genuine it might be. And they were already smiling rather
too broadly upon Sorelli, who had begun to recite her speech,
when an exclamation from that little madcap of a Jammes broke
the smile of the managers so brutally that the expression of distress
and dismay that lay beneath it became apparent to all eyes:

"The Opera ghost!"

Jammes yelled these words in a tone of unspeakable terror; and her
finger pointed, among the crowd of dandies, to a face so pallid,
so lugubrious and so ugly, with two such deep black cavities
under the straddling eyebrows, that the death's head in question
immediately scored a huge success.

"The Opera ghost! The Opera ghost!" Everybody laughed and pushed
his neighbor and wanted to offer the Opera ghost a drink, but he
was gone. He had slipped through the crowd; and the others vainly
hunted for him, while two old gentlemen tried to calm little Jammes
and while little Giry stood screaming like a peacock.

Sorelli was furious; she had not been able to finish her speech;
the managers, had kissed her, thanked her and run away as fast as
the ghost himself. No one was surprised at this, for it was known
that they were to go through the same ceremony on the floor above,
in the foyer of the singers, and that finally they were themselves
to receive their personal friends, for the last time, in the great
lobby outside the managers' office, where a regular supper would
be served.

Here they found the new managers, M. Armand Moncharmin and
M. Firmin Richard, whom they hardly knew; nevertheless, they were
lavish in protestations of friendship and received a thousand
flattering compliments in reply, so that those of the guests who had
feared that they had a rather tedious evening in store for them
at once put on brighter faces. The supper was almost gay and a
particularly clever speech of the representative of the government,
mingling the glories of the past with the successes of the future,
caused the greatest cordiality to prevail.

The retiring managers had already handed over to their successors the
two tiny master-keys which opened all the doors--thousands of doors--
of the Opera house. And those little keys, the object of general
curiosity, were being passed from hand to hand, when the attention
of some of the guests was diverted by their discovery, at the end
of the table, of that strange, wan and fantastic face, with the
hollow eyes, which had already appeared in the foyer of the ballet
and been greeted by little Jammes' exclamation:

"The Opera ghost!"

There sat the ghost, as natural as could be, except that he neither
ate nor drank. Those who began by looking at him with a smile ended
by turning away their heads, for the sight of him at once provoked
the most funereal thoughts. No one repeated the joke of the foyer,
no one exclaimed:

"There's the Opera ghost!"

He himself did not speak a word and his very neighbors could not
have stated at what precise moment he had sat down between them;
but every one felt that if the dead did ever come and sit at
the table of the living, they could not cut a more ghastly figure.
The friends of Firmin Richard and Armand Moncharmin thought that this
lean and skinny guest was an acquaintance of Debienne's or Poligny's,
while Debienne's and Poligny's friends believed that the cadaverous
individual belonged to Firmin Richard and Armand Moncharmin's party.

The result was that no request was made for an explanation;
no unpleasant remark; no joke in bad taste, which might have offended
this visitor from the tomb. A few of those present who knew the story
of the ghost and the description of him given by the chief scene-shifter--
they did not know of Joseph Buquet's death--thought, in their own minds,
that the man at the end of the table might easily have passed for him;
and yet, according to the story, the ghost had no nose and the person
in question had. But M. Moncharmin declares, in his Memoirs,
that the guest's nose was transparent: "long, thin and transparent"
are his exact words. I, for my part, will add that this might
very well apply to a false nose. M. Moncharmin may have taken
for transparency what was only shininess. Everybody knows
that orthopaedic science provides beautiful false noses for
those who have lost their noses naturally or as the result
of an operation.

Did the ghost really take a seat at the managers' supper-table
that night, uninvited? And can we be sure that the figure was
that of the Opera ghost himself? Who would venture to assert
as much? I mention the incident, not because I wish for a second
to make the reader believe--or even to try to make him believe--
that the ghost was capable of such a sublime piece of impudence;
but because, after all, the thing is impossible.

M. Armand Moncharmin, in chapter eleven of his Memoirs, says:

"When I think of this first evening, I can not separate the secret
confided to us by MM. Debienne and Poligny in their office from
the presence at our supper of that GHOSTLY person whom none of us knew."

What happened was this: Mm. Debienne and Poligny, sitting at
the center of the table, had not seen the man with the death's head.
Suddenly he began to speak.

"The ballet-girls are right," he said. "The death of that poor
Buquet is perhaps not so natural as people think."

Debienne and Poligny gave a start.

"Is Buquet dead?" they cried.

"Yes," replied the man, or the shadow of a man, quietly. "He was found,
this evening, hanging in the third cellar, between a farm-house
and a scene from the Roi de Lahore."

The two managers, or rather ex-managers, at once rose and stared
strangely at the speaker. They were more excited than they need
have been, that is to say, more excited than any one need be by
the announcement of the suicide of a chief scene-shifter. They looked
at each other. They, had both turned whiter than the table-cloth.
At last, Debienne made a sign to Mm. Richard and Moncharmin;
Poligny muttered a few words of excuse to the guests; and all four
went into the managers' office. I leave M. Moncharmin to complete
the story. In his Memoirs, he says:

"Mm. Debienne and Poligny seemed to grow more and more excited,
and they appeared to have something very difficult to tell us.
First, they asked us if we knew the man, sitting at the end of the table,
who had told them of the death of Joseph Buquet; and, when we answered
in the negative, they looked still more concerned. They took the
master-keys from our hands, stared at them for a moment and advised
us to have new locks made, with the greatest secrecy, for the rooms,
closets and presses that we might wish to have hermetically closed.
They said this so funnily that we began to laugh and to ask if there
were thieves at the Opera. They replied that there was something worse,
which was the GHOST. We began to laugh again, feeling sure that
they were indulging in some joke that was intended to crown our
little entertainment. Then, at their request, we became `serious,'
resolving to humor them and to enter into the spirit of the game.
They told us that they never would have spoken to us of the ghost,
if they had not received formal orders from the ghost himself
to ask us to be pleasant to him and to grant any request that he
might make. However, in their relief at leaving a domain where
that tyrannical shade held sway, they had hesitated until the last
moment to tell us this curious story, which our skeptical minds
were certainly not prepared to entertain. But the announcement of
the death of Joseph Buquet had served them as a brutal reminder that,
whenever they had disregarded the ghost's wishes, some fantastic
or disastrous event had brought them to a sense of their dependence.

"During these unexpected utterances made in a tone of the most secret
and important confidence, I looked at Richard. Richard, in his
student days, had acquired a great reputation for practical joking,
and he seemed to relish the dish which was being served up to him
in his turn. He did not miss a morsel of it, though the seasoning
was a little gruesome because of the death of Buquet. He nodded
his head sadly, while the others spoke, and his features assumed
the air of a man who bitterly regretted having taken over the Opera,
now that he knew that there was a ghost mixed up in the business.
I could think of nothing better than to give him a servile imitation
of this attitude of despair. However, in spite of all our efforts,
we could not, at the finish, help bursting out laughing in the faces
of MM. Debienne and Poligny, who, seeing us pass straight from
the gloomiest state of mind to one of the most insolent merriment,
acted as though they thought that we had gone mad.

"The joke became a little tedious; and Richard asked half-seriously
and half in jest:

"`But, after all, what does this ghost of yours want?'

"M. Poligny went to his desk and returned with a copy of the
memorandum-book. The memorandum-book begins with the well-known
words saying that `the management of the Opera shall give to
the performance of the National Academy of Music the splendor that
becomes the first lyric stage in France' and ends with Clause 98,
which says that the privilege can be withdrawn if the manager
infringes the conditions stipulated in the memorandum-book.
This is followed by the conditions, which are four in number.

"The copy produced by M. Poligny was written in black ink
and exactly similar to that in our possession, except that,
at the end, it contained a paragraph in red ink and in a queer,
labored handwriting, as though it had been produced by dipping
the heads of matches into the ink, the writing of a child
that has never got beyond the down-strokes and has not learned
to join its letters. This paragraph ran, word for word, as follows:

"`5. Or if the manager, in any month, delay for more than a fortnight
the payment of the allowance which he shall make to the Opera ghost,
an allowance of twenty thousand francs a month, say two hundred
and forty thousand francs a year.'

"M. Poligny pointed with a hesitating finger to this last clause,
which we certainly did not expect.

"`Is this all? Does he not want anything else?' asked Richard,
with the greatest coolness.

"`Yes, he does,' replied Poligny.

"And he turned over the pages of the memorandum-book until he
came to the clause specifying the days on which certain private
boxes were to be reserved for the free use of the president of
the republic, the ministers and so on. At the end of this clause,
a line had been added, also in red ink:

"`Box Five on the grand tier shall be placed at the disposal
of the Opera ghost for every performance.'

"When we saw this, there was nothing else for us to do but to rise
from our chairs, shake our two predecessors warmly by the hand
and congratulate them on thinking of this charming little joke,
which proved that the old French sense of humor was never likely
to become extinct. Richard added that he now understood why MM.
Debienne and Poligny were retiring from the management of the National
Academy of Music. Business was impossible with so unreasonable
a ghost.

"`Certainly, two hundred and forty thousand francs are not be picked up
for the asking,' said M. Poligny, without moving a muscle of his face.
`And have you considered what the loss over Box Five meant to us?
We did not sell it once; and not only that, but we had to return
the subscription: why, it's awful! We really can't work to keep ghosts!
We prefer to go away!'

"`Yes,' echoed M. Debienne, `we prefer to go away. Let us go.'"

"And he stood up. Richard said: `But, after all all, it seems
to me that you were much too kind to the ghost. If I had such
a troublesome ghost as that, I should not hesitate to have him arrested.'

"`But how? Where?' they cried, in chorus. `We have never seen him!'

"`But when he comes to his box?'


"`Then sell it.'

"`Sell the Opera ghost's box! Well, gentlemen, try it.'

"Thereupon we all four left the office. Richard and I had `never
laughed so much in our lives.'"

Chapter IV Box Five

Armand Moncharmin wrote such voluminous Memoirs during the fairly long
period of his co-management that we may well ask if he ever found
time to attend to the affairs of the Opera otherwise than by telling
what went on there. M. Moncharmin did not know a note of music,
but he called the minister of education and fine arts by his
Christian name, had dabbled a little in society journalism and enjoyed
a considerable private income. Lastly, he was a charming fellow
and showed that he was not lacking in intelligence, for, as soon as he
made up his mind to be a sleeping partner in the Opera, he selected
the best possible active manager and went straight to Firmin Richard.

Firmin Richard was a very distinguished composer, who had published
a number of successful pieces of all kinds and who liked nearly every
form of music and every sort of musician. Clearly, therefore, it was
the duty of every sort of musician to like M. Firmin Richard.
The only things to be said against him were that he was rather
masterful in his ways and endowed with a very hasty temper.

The first few days which the partners spent at the Opera were given
over to the delight of finding themselves the head of so magnificent
an enterprise; and they had forgotten all about that curious,
fantastic story of the ghost, when an incident occurred that
proved to them that the joke--if joke it were--was not over.
M. Firmin Richard reached his office that morning at eleven
o'clock. His secretary, M. Remy, showed him half a dozen letters
which he had not opened because they were marked "private."
One of the letters had at once attracted Richard's attention not
only because the envelope was addressed in red ink, but because he
seemed to have seen the writing before. He soon remembered that it
was the red handwriting in which the memorandum-book had been
so curiously completed. He recognized the clumsy childish hand.
He opened the letter and read:


I am sorry to have to trouble you at a time when you must be
so very busy, renewing important engagements, signing fresh ones
and generally displaying your excellent taste. I know what you
have done for Carlotta, Sorelli and little Jammes and for a few
others whose admirable qualities of talent or genius you have suspected.

Of course, when I use these words, I do not mean to apply them
to La Carlotta, who sings like a squirt and who ought never to
have been allowed to leave the Ambassadeurs and the Cafe Jacquin;
nor to La Sorelli, who owes her success mainly to the coach-builders;
nor to little Jammes, who dances like a calf in a field. And I am
not speaking of Christine Daae either, though her genius is certain,
whereas your jealousy prevents her from creating any important part.
When all is said, you are free to conduct your little business as you
think best, are you not?

All the same, I should like to take advantage of the fact that you
have not yet turned Christine Daae out of doors by hearing her
this evening in the part of Siebel, as that of Margarita has been
forbidden her since her triumph of the other evening; and I will
ask you not to dispose of my box to-day nor on the FOLLOWING DAYS,
for I can not end this letter without telling you how disagreeably
surprised I have been once or twice, to hear, on arriving at the Opera,
that my box had been sold, at the box-office, by your orders.

I did not protest, first, because I dislike scandal, and, second,
because I thought that your predecessors, MM. Debienne and Poligny,
who were always charming to me, had neglected, before leaving,
to mention my little fads to you. I have now received a reply
from those gentlemen to my letter asking for an explanation,
and this reply proves that you know all about my Memorandum-Book and,
consequently, that you are treating me with outrageous contempt.

Believe me to be, dear Mr. Manager, without prejudice to these
little observations,
Your Most Humble and Obedient Servant,

The letter was accompanied by a cutting from the agony-column
of the Revue Theatrale, which ran:

O. G.--There is no excuse for R. and M. We told them and left
your memorandum-book in their hands. Kind regards.

M. Firmin Richard had hardly finished reading this letter when
M. Armand Moncharmin entered, carrying one exactly similar.
They looked at each other and burst out laughing.

"They are keeping up the joke," said M. Richard, "but I don't call
it funny."

"What does it all mean?" asked M. Moncharmin. "Do they imagine that,
because they have been managers of the Opera, we are going to let
them have a box for an indefinite period?"

"I am not in the mood to let myself be laughed at long,"
said Firmin Richard.

"It's harmless enough," observed Armand Moncharmin. "What is it
they really want? A box for to-night?"

M. Firmin Richard told his secretary to send Box Five on the grand
tier to Mm. Debienne and Poligny, if it was not sold. It was not.
It was sent off to them. Debienne lived at the corner of the Rue
Scribe and the Boulevard des Capucines; Poligny, in the Rue Auber.
O. Ghost's two letters had been posted at the Boulevard des
Capucines post-office, as Moncharmin remarked after examining
the envelopes.

"You see!" said Richard.

They shrugged their shoulders and regretted that two men of that age
should amuse themselves with such childish tricks.

"They might have been civil, for all that!" said Moncharmin.
"Did you notice how they treat us with regard to Carlotta,
Sorelli and Little Jammes?"

"Why, my dear fellow, these two are mad with jealousy! To think that
they went to the expense of, an advertisement in the Revue Theatrale!
Have they nothing better to do?"

"By the way," said Moncharmin, "they seem to be greatly interested
in that little Christine Daae!"

"You know as well as I do that she has the reputation of being
quite good," said Richard.

"Reputations are easily obtained," replied Moncharmin. "Haven't I
a reputation for knowing all about music? And I don't know one key
from another."

"Don't be afraid: you never had that reputation," Richard declared.

Thereupon he ordered the artists to be shown in, who, for the last
two hours, had been walking up and down outside the door behind
which fame and fortune--or dismissal--awaited them.

The whole day was spent in discussing, negotiating, signing or
cancelling contracts; and the two overworked managers went
to bed early, without so much as casting a glance at Box Five
to see whether M. Debienne and M. Poligny were enjoying the performance.

Next morning, the managers received a card of thanks from the ghost:


Thanks. Charming evening. Daae exquisite. Choruses want waking up.
Carlotta a splendid commonplace instrument. Will write you soon
for the 240,000 francs, or 233,424 fr. 70 c., to be correct.
Mm. Debienne and Poligny have sent me the 6,575 fr. 30 c.
representing the first ten days of my allowance for the current year;
their privileges finished on the evening of the tenth inst.

Kind regards. O. G.

On the other hand, there was a letter from Mm. Debienne and Poligny:


We are much obliged for your kind thought of us, but you will
easily understand that the prospect of again hearing Faust,
pleasant though it is to ex-managers of the Opera, can not make us
forget that we have no right to occupy Box Five on the grand tier,
which is the exclusive property of HIM of whom we spoke to you when
we went through the memorandum-book with you for the last time.
See Clause 98, final paragraph.

Accept, gentlemen, etc.

"Oh, those fellows are beginning to annoy me!" shouted Firmin Richard,
snatching up the letter.

And that evening Box Five was sold.

The next morning, Mm. Richard and Moncharmin, on reaching their office,
found an inspector's report relating to an incident that had happened,
the night before, in Box Five. I give the essential part of the report:

I was obliged to call in a municipal guard twice, this evening,
to clear Box Five on the grand tier, once at the beginning and once
in the middle of the second act. The occupants, who arrived
as the curtain rose on the second act, created a regular scandal
by their laughter and their ridiculous observations. There
were cries of "Hush!" all around them and the whole house was
beginning to protest, when the box-keeper came to fetch me. I entered
the box and said what I thought necessary. The people did not seem
to me to be in their right mind; and they made stupid remarks.
I said that, if the noise was repeated, I should be compelled
to clear the box. The moment I left, I heard the laughing again,
with fresh protests from the house. I returned with a municipal
guard, who turned them out. They protested, still laughing,
saying they would not go unless they had their money back. At last,
they became quiet and I allowed them to enter the box again.
The laughter at once recommenced; and, this time, I had them turned
out definitely.

"Send for the inspector," said Richard to his secretary, who had
already read the report and marked it with blue pencil.

M. Remy, the secretary, had foreseen the order and called
the inspector at once.

"Tell us what happened," said Richard bluntly.

The inspector began to splutter and referred to the report.

"Well, but what were those people laughing at?" asked Moncharmin.

"They must have been dining, sir, and seemed more inclined to lark
about than to listen to good music. The moment they entered the box,
they came out again and called the box-keeper, who asked them what
they wanted. They said, `Look in the box: there's no one there,
is there?' `No,' said the woman. `Well,' said they, `when we went in,
we heard a voice saying THAT THE BOX WAS TAKEN!'"

M. Moncharmin could not help smiling as he looked at M. Richard;
but M. Richard did not smile. He himself had done too much in
that way in his time not to recognize, in the inspector's story,
all the marks of one of those practical jokes which begin
by amusing and end by enraging the victims. The inspector,
to curry favor with M. Moncharmin, who was smiling, thought it
best to give a smile too. A most unfortunate smile! M. Richard
glared at his subordinate, who thenceforth made it his business
to display a face of utter consternation.

"However, when the people arrived," roared Richard, "there was
no one in the box, was there?"

"Not a soul, sir, not a soul! Nor in the box on the right, nor in
the box on the left: not a soul, sir, I swear! The box-keeper
told it me often enough, which proves that it was all a joke."

"Oh, you agree, do you?" said Richard. "You agree! It's a joke!
And you think it funny, no doubt?"

"I think it in very bad taste, sir."

"And what did the box-keeper say?"

"Oh, she just said that it was the Opera ghost. That's all she said!"

And the inspector grinned. But he soon found that he had made
a mistake in grinning, for the words had no sooner left his mouth
than M. Richard, from gloomy, became furious.

"Send for the box-keeper!" he shouted. "Send for her! This minute!
This minute! And bring her in to me here! And turn all those
people out!"

The inspector tried to protest, but Richard closed his mouth
with an angry order to hold his tongue. Then, when the wretched
man's lips seemed shut for ever, the manager commanded him to open
them once more.

"Who is this `Opera ghost?'" he snarled.

But the inspector was by this time incapable of speaking a word.
He managed to convey, by a despairing gesture, that he knew nothing
about it, or rather that he did not wish to know.

"Have you ever seen him, have you seen the Opera ghost?"

The inspector, by means of a vigorous shake of the head, denied ever
having seen the ghost in question.

"Very well!" said M. Richard coldly.

The inspector's eyes started out of his head, as though to ask why
the manager had uttered that ominous "Very well!"

"Because I'm going to settle the account of any one who has not
seen him!" explained the manager. "As he seems to be everywhere,
I can't have people telling me that they see him nowhere.
I like people to work for me when I employ them!"

Having said this, M. Richard paid no attention to the inspector
and discussed various matters of business with his acting-manager,
who had entered the room meanwhile. The inspector thought he
could go and was gently--oh, so gently!--sidling toward the door,
when M. Richard nailed the man to the floor with a thundering:

"Stay where you are!"

M. Remy had sent for the box-keeper to the Rue de Provence,
close to the Opera, where she was engaged as a porteress.
She soon made her appearance.

"What's your name?"

"Mme. Giry. You know me well enough, sir; I'm the mother
of little Giry, little Meg, what!"

This was said in so rough and solemn a tone that, for a moment,
M. Richard was impressed. He looked at Mme. Giry, in her faded shawl,
her worn shoes, her old taffeta dress and dingy bonnet. It was quite
evident from the manager's attitude, that he either did not know
or could not remember having met Mme. Giry, nor even little Giry,
nor even "little Meg!" But Mme. Giry's pride was so great that
the celebrated box-keeper imagined that everybody knew her.

"Never heard of her!" the manager declared. "But that's no reason,
Mme. Giry, why I shouldn't ask you what happened last night to make
you and the inspector call in a municipal guard."

"I was just wanting to see you, sir, and talk to you about it,
so that you mightn't have the same unpleasantness as M. Debienne
and M. Poligny. They wouldn't listen to me either, at first."

"I'm not asking you about all that. I'm asking what happened
last night."

Mme. Giry turned purple with indignation. Never had she been
spoken to like that. She rose as though to go, gathering up
the folds of her skirt and waving the feathers of her dingy bonnet
with dignity, but, changing her mind, she sat down again and said,
in a haughty voice:

"I'll tell you what happened. The ghost was annoyed again!"

Thereupon, as M. Richard was on the point of bursting out, M. Moncharmin
interfered and conducted the interrogatory, whence it appeared
that Mme. Giry thought it quite natural that a voice should be heard
to say that a box was taken, when there was nobody in the box.
She was unable to explain this phenomenon, which was not new to her,
except by the intervention of the ghost. Nobody could see the ghost
in his box, but everybody could hear him. She had often heard him;
and they could believe her, for she always spoke the truth.
They could ask M. Debienne and M. Poligny, and anybody who knew her;
and also M. Isidore Saack, who had had a leg broken by the ghost!

"Indeed!" said Moncharmin, interrupting her. "Did the ghost break
poor Isidore Saack's leg?"

Mme. Giry opened her eyes with astonishment at such ignorance.
However, she consented to enlighten those two poor innocents.
The thing had happened in M. Debienne and M. Poligny's time, also in
Box Five and also during a performance of FAUST. Mme. Giry coughed,
cleared her throat--it sounded as though she were preparing to sing
the whole of Gounod's score--and began:

"It was like this, sir. That night, M. Maniera and his lady,
the jewelers in the Rue Mogador, were sitting in the front of the box,
with their great friend, M. Isidore Saack, sitting behind Mme. Maniera.
Mephistopheles was singing"--Mme. Giry here burst into song herself--"
`Catarina, while you play at sleeping,' and then M. Maniera heard
a voice in his right ear (his wife was on his left) saying, `Ha, ha!
Julie's not playing at sleeping!' His wife happened to be called
Julie. So. M. Maniera turns to the right to see who was talking
to him like that. Nobody there! He rubs his ear and asks himself,
if he's dreaming. Then Mephistopheles went on with his serenade.
... But, perhaps I'm boring you gentlemen?"

"No, no, go on."

"You are too good, gentlemen," with a smirk. "Well, then,
Mephistopheles went on with his serenade"--Mme. Giry, burst into
song again--" `Saint, unclose thy portals holy and accord the bliss,
to a mortal bending lowly, of a pardon-kiss.' And then M. Maniera
again hears the voice in his right ear, saying, this time, `Ha, ha!
Julie wouldn't mind according a kiss to Isidore!' Then he turns
round again, but, this time, to the left; and what do you think
he sees? Isidore, who had taken his lady's hand and was covering
it with kisses through the little round place in the glove--
like this, gentlemen"--rapturously kissing the bit of palm left bare
in the middle of her thread gloves. "Then they had a lively time
between them! Bang! Bang! M. Maniera, who was big and strong,
like you, M. Richard, gave two blows to M. Isidore Saack,
who was small and weak like M. Moncharmin, saving his presence.
There was a great uproar. People in the house shouted, `That will do!
Stop them! He'll kill him!' Then, at last, M. Isidore Saack managed
to run away."

"Then the ghost had not broken his leg?" asked M. Moncharmin,
a little vexed that his figure had made so little impression on
Mme. Giry.

"He did break it for him, sir," replied Mme. Giry haughtily.
"He broke it for him on the grand staircase, which he ran down
too fast, sir, and it will be long before the poor gentleman will
be able to go up it again!"

"Did the ghost tell you what he said in M. Maniera's right ear?"
asked M. Moncharmin, with a gravity which he thought exceedingly humorous.

"No, sir, it was M. Maniera himself. So----"

"But you have spoken to the ghost, my good lady?"

"As I'm speaking to you now, my good sir!" Mme. Giry replied.

"And, when the ghost speaks to you, what does he say?"

"Well, he tells me to bring him a footstool!"

This time, Richard burst out laughing, as did Moncharmin and Remy,
the secretary. Only the inspector, warned by experience, was careful
not to laugh, while Mme. Giry ventured to adopt an attitude that
was positively threatening.

"Instead of laughing," she cried indignantly, "you'd do better
to do as M. Poligny did, who found out for himself."

"Found out about what?" asked Moncharmin, who had never been so much
amused in his life.

"About the ghost, of course!...Look here..."

She suddenly calmed herself, feeling that this was a solemn moment
in her life:

"LOOK HERE," she repeated. "They were playing La Juive. M. Poligny
thought he would watch the performance from the ghost's box.
...Well, when Leopold cries, `Let us fly!'--you know--and Eleazer
stops them and says, `Whither go ye?'...well, M. Poligny--
I was watching him from the back of the next box, which was empty--
M. Poligny got up and walked out quite stiffly, like a statue,
and before I had time to ask him, `Whither go ye?' like Eleazer,
he was down the staircase, but without breaking his leg.

"Still, that doesn't let us know how the Opera ghost came to ask
you for a footstool," insisted M. Moncharmin.

"Well, from that evening, no one tried to take the ghost's private
box from him. The manager gave orders that he was to have it at
each performance. And, whenever he came, he asked me for a footstool."

"Tut, tut! A ghost asking for a footstool! Then this ghost
of yours is a woman?"

"No, the ghost is a man."

"How do you know?"

"He has a man's voice, oh, such a lovely man's voice! This is
what happens: When he comes to the opera, it's usually in the middle
of the first act. He gives three little taps on the door of Box Five.
The first time I heard those three taps, when I knew there was
no one in the box, you can think how puzzled I was! I opened
the door, listened, looked; nobody! And then I heard a voice say,
`Mme. Jules' my poor husband's name was Jules--`a footstool, please.'
Saving your presence, gentlemen, it made me feel all-overish like.
But the voice went on, `Don't be frightened, Mme. Jules, I'm the
Opera ghost!' And the voice was so soft and kind that I hardly

"Was there any one in the box on the right of Box Five?"
asked Moncharmin.

"No; Box Seven, and Box Three, the one on the left, were both empty.
The curtain had only just gone up."

"And what did you do?"

"Well, I brought the footstool. Of course, it wasn't for himself
he wanted it, but for his lady! But I never heard her nor saw her."

"Eh? What? So now the ghost is married!" The eyes of the two
managers traveled from Mme. Giry to the inspector, who, standing behind
the box-keeper, was waving his arms to attract their attention.
He tapped his forehead with a distressful forefinger, to convey
his opinion that the widow Jules Giry was most certainly mad,
a piece of pantomime which confirmed M. Richard in his determination
to get rid of an inspector who kept a lunatic in his service.
Meanwhile, the worthy lady went on about her ghost, now painting
his generosity:

"At the end of the performance, he always gives me two francs,
sometimes five, sometimes even ten, when he has been many days
without coming. Only, since people have begun to annoy him again,
he gives me nothing at all.

"Excuse me, my good woman," said Moncharmin, while Mme. Giry tossed
the feathers in her dingy hat at this persistent familiarity,
"excuse me, how does the ghost manage to give you your two francs?"

"Why, he leaves them on the little shelf in the box, of course.
I find them with the program, which I always give him. Some evenings,
I find flowers in the box, a rose that must have dropped from his
lady's bodice...for he brings a lady with him sometimes; one day,
they left a fan behind them."

"Oh, the ghost left a fan, did he? And what did you do with it?"

"Well, I brought it back to the box next night."

Here the inspector's voice was raised.

"You've broken the rules; I shall have to fine you, Mme. Giry."

"Hold your tongue, you fool!" muttered M. Firmin Richard.

"You brought back the fan. And then?"

"Well, then, they took it away with them, sir; it was not there
at the end of the performance; and in its place they left me a box
of English sweets, which I'm very fond of. That's one of the ghost's
pretty thoughts."

"That will do, Mme. Giry. You can go."

When Mme. Giry had bowed herself out, with the dignity that never
deserted her, the manager told the inspector that they had decided
to dispense with that old madwoman's services; and, when he
had gone in his turn, they instructed the acting-manager to make
up the inspector's accounts. Left alone, the managers told
each other of the idea which they both had in mind, which was
that they should look into that little matter of Box Five themselves.

Chapter V The Enchanted Violin

Christine Daae, owing to intrigues to which I will return later,
did not immediately continue her triumph at the Opera. After the
famous gala night, she sang once at the Duchess de Zurich's;
but this was the last occasion on which she was heard in private.
She refused, without plausible excuse, to appear at a charity concert
to which she had promised her assistance. She acted throughout
as though she were no longer the mistress of her own destiny and as
though she feared a fresh triumph.

She knew that the Comte de Chagny, to please his brother, had done
his best on her behalf with M. Richard; and she wrote to thank him
and also to ask him to cease speaking in her favor. Her reason
for this curious attitude was never known. Some pretended that it
was due to overweening pride; others spoke of her heavenly modesty.
But people on the stage are not so modest as all that; and I think
that I shall not be far from the truth if I ascribe her action
simply to fear. Yes, I believe that Christine Daae was frightened
by what had happened to her. I have a letter of Christine's (it
forms part of the Persian's collection), relating to this period,
which suggests a feeling of absolute dismay:

"I don't know myself when I sing," writes the poor child.

She showed herself nowhere; and the Vicomte de Chagny tried
in vain to meet her. He wrote to her, asking to call upon her,
but despaired of receiving a reply when, one morning, she sent
him the following note:


I have not forgotten the little boy who went into the sea
to rescue my scarf. I feel that I must write to you to-day,
when I am going to Perros, in fulfilment of a sacred duty.
To-morrow is the anniversary of the death of my poor father,
whom you knew and who was very fond of you. He is buried there,
with his violin, in the graveyard of the little church, at the bottom
of the slope where we used to play as children, beside the road where,
when we were a little bigger, we said good-by for the last time.

The Vicomte de Chagny hurriedly consulted a railway guide,
dressed as quickly as he could, wrote a few lines for his valet
to take to his brother and jumped into a cab which brought him
to the Gare Montparnasse just in time to miss the morning train.
He spent a dismal day in town and did not recover his spirits
until the evening, when he was seated in his compartment in the
Brittany express. He read Christine's note over and over again,
smelling its perfume, recalling the sweet pictures of his childhood,
and spent the rest of that tedious night journey in feverish dreams
that began and ended with Christine Daae. Day was breaking when he
alighted at Lannion. He hurried to the diligence for Perros-Guirec.
He was the only passenger. He questioned the driver and learned that,
on the evening of the previous day, a young lady who looked
like a Parisian had gone to Perros and put up at the inn known
as the Setting Sun.

The nearer he drew to her, the more fondly he remembered the story
of the little Swedish singer. Most of the details are still unknown
to the public.

There was once, in a little market-town not far from Upsala, a peasant
who lived there with his family, digging the earth during the week
and singing in the choir on Sundays. This peasant had a little daughter
to whom he taught the musical alphabet before she knew how to read.
Daae's father was a great musician, perhaps without knowing it.
Not a fiddler throughout the length and breadth of Scandinavia
played as he did. His reputation was widespread and he was always
invited to set the couples dancing at weddings and other festivals.
His wife died when Christine was entering upon her sixth year.
Then the father, who cared only for his daughter and his music, sold his
patch of ground and went to Upsala in search of fame and fortune.
He found nothing but poverty.

He returned to the country, wandering from fair to fair,
strumming his Scandinavian melodies, while his child, who never
left his side, listened to him in ecstasy or sang to his playing.
One day, at Ljimby Fair, Professor Valerius heard them and took
them to Gothenburg. He maintained that the father was the first
violinist in the world and that the daughter had the making of a
great artist. Her education and instruction were provided for.
She made rapid progress and charmed everybody with her prettiness,
her grace of manner and her genuine eagerness to please.

When Valerius and his wife went to settle in France, they took Daae
and Christine with them. "Mamma" Valerius treated Christine as
her daughter. As for Daae, he began to pine away with homesickness.
He never went out of doors in Paris, but lived in a sort of dream
which he kept up with his violin. For hours at a time, he remained
locked up in his bedroom with his daughter, fiddling and singing,
very, very softly. Sometimes Mamma Valerius would come and listen
behind the door, wipe away a tear and go down-stairs again on tiptoe,
sighing for her Scandinavian skies.

Daae seemed not to recover his strength until the summer,
when the whole family went to stay at Perros-Guirec, in a far-away
corner of Brittany, where the sea was of the same color as in his
own country. Often he would play his saddest tunes on the beach
and pretend that the sea stopped its roaring to listen to them.
And then he induced Mamma Valerius to indulge a queer whim of his.
At the time of the "pardons," or Breton pilgrimages, the village
festival and dances, he went off with his fiddle, as in the old days,
and was allowed to take his daughter with him for a week.
They gave the smallest hamlets music to last them for a year and
slept at night in a barn, refusing a bed at the inn, lying close
together on the straw, as when they were so poor in Sweden.
At the same time, they were very neatly dressed, made no collection,
refused the halfpence offered them; and the people around could
not understand the conduct of this rustic fiddler, who tramped
the roads with that pretty child who sang like an angel from Heaven.
They followed them from village to village.

One day, a little boy, who was out with his governess, made her take
a longer walk than he intended, for he could not tear himself from
the little girl whose pure, sweet voice seemed to bind him to her.
They came to the shore of an inlet which is still called Trestraou,
but which now, I believe, harbors a casino or something of the sort.
At that time, there was nothing but sky and sea and a stretch
of golden beach. Only, there was also a high wind, which blew
Christine's scarf out to sea. Christine gave a cry and put out
her arms, but the scarf was already far on the waves. Then she heard
a voice say:

"It's all right, I'll go and fetch your scarf out of the sea."

And she saw a little boy running fast, in spite of the outcries
and the indignant protests of a worthy lady in black. The little boy
ran into the sea, dressed as he was, and brought her back her scarf.
Boy and scarf were both soaked through. The lady in black made a
great fuss, but Christine laughed merrily and kissed the little boy,
who was none other than the Vicomte Raoul de Chagny, staying at
Lannion with his aunt.

During the season, they saw each other and played together almost
every day. At the aunt's request, seconded by Professor Valerius,
Daae consented to give the young viscount some violin lessons.
In this way, Raoul learned to love the same airs that had charmed
Christine's childhood. They also both had the same calm and dreamy
little cast of mind. They delighted in stories, in old Breton legends;
and their favorite sport was to go and ask for them at the cottage-doors,
like beggars:

"Ma'am..." or, "Kind gentleman...have you a little story
to tell us, please?"

And it seldom happened that they did not have one "given" them;
for nearly every old Breton grandame has, at least once in her life,
seen the "korrigans" dance by moonlight on the heather.

But their great treat was, in the twilight, in the great silence
of the evening, after the sun had set in the sea, when Daae came
and sat down by them on the roadside and, in a low voice, as though
fearing lest he should frighten the ghosts whom he evoked, told them
the legends of the land of the North. And, the moment he stopped,
the children would ask for more.

There was one story that began:

"A king sat in a little boat on one of those deep, still lakes
that open like a bright eye in the midst of the Norwegian mountains..."

And another:

"Little Lotte thought of everything and nothing. Her hair was golden
as the sun's rays and her soul as clear and blue as her eyes.
She wheedled her mother, was kind to her doll, took great care of her
frock and her little red shoes and her fiddle, but most of all loved,
when she went to sleep, to hear the Angel of Music."

While the old man told this story, Raoul looked at Christine's
blue eyes and golden hair; and Christine thought that Lotte was
very lucky to hear the Angel of Music when she went to sleep.
The Angel of Music played a part in all Daddy Daae's tales;
and he maintained that every great musician, every great artist
received a visit from the Angel at least once in his life.
Sometimes the Angel leans over their cradle, as happened to Lotte,
and that is how there are little prodigies who play the fiddle
at six better than men at fifty, which, you must admit,
is very wonderful. Sometimes, the Angel comes much later,
because the children are naughty and won't learn their lessons
or practise their scales. And, sometimes, he does not come at all,
because the children have a bad heart or a bad conscience.

Book of the day: