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The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

Part 4 out of 6

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And M. Mifroid, followed by an ever-increasing crowd, turned toward
the business side of the building. Mercier took advantage
of the confusion to slip a key into Gabriel's hand:

"This is all going very badly," he whispered. "You had better let
Mother Giry out."

And Gabriel moved away.

They soon came to the managers' door. Mercier stormed in vain:
the door remained closed.

"Open in the name of the law!" commanded M. Mifroid, in a loud
and rather anxious voice.

At last the door was opened. All rushed in to the office,
on the commissary's heels.

Raoul was the last to enter. As he was about to follow the rest
into the room, a hand was laid on his shoulder and he heard these words
spoken in his ear:


He turned around, with a stifled exclamation. The hand that was
laid on his shoulder was now placed on the lips of a person with an
ebony skin, with eyes of jade and with an astrakhan cap on his head:
the Persian! The stranger kept up the gesture that recommended
discretion and then, at the moment when the astonished viscount
was about to ask the reason of his mysterious intervention,
bowed and disappeared.

Chapter XVI Mme. Giry's Astounding Revelations as to Her
Personal Relations with the Opera Ghost

Before following the commissary into the manager's office I
must describe certain extraordinary occurrences that took place
in that office which Remy and Mercier had vainly tried to enter
and into which MM. Richard and Moncharmin had locked themselves
with an object which the reader does not yet know, but which it
is my duty, as an historian, to reveal without further postponement.

I have had occasion to say that the managers' mood had undergone
a disagreeable change for some time past and to convey the fact
that this change was due not only to the fall of the chandelier
on the famous night of the gala performance.

The reader must know that the ghost had calmly been paid his first
twenty thousand francs. Oh, there had been wailing and gnashing
of teeth, indeed! And yet the thing had happened as simply as could be.

One morning, the managers found on their table an envelope
addressed to "Monsieur O. G. (private)" and accompanied by a note
from O. G. himself:

The time has come to carry out the clause in the memorandum-book.
Please put twenty notes of a thousand francs each into this envelope,
seal it with your own seal and hand it to Mme. Giry, who will do
what is necessary.

The managers did not hesitate; without wasting time in asking
how these confounded communications came to be delivered in an
office which they were careful to keep locked, they seized this
opportunity of laying hands, on the mysterious blackmailer.
And, after telling the whole story, under the promise of secrecy,
to Gabriel and Mercier, they put the twenty thousand francs into the
envelope and without asking for explanations, handed it to Mme. Giry,
who had been reinstated in her functions. The box-keeper displayed
no astonishment. I need hardly say that she was well watched.
She went straight to the ghost's box and placed the precious envelope
on the little shelf attached to the ledge. The two managers,
as well as Gabriel and Mercier, were hidden in such a way that
they did not lose sight of the envelope for a second during the
performance and even afterward, for, as the envelope had not moved,
those who watched it did not move either; and Mme. Giry went
away while the managers, Gabriel and Mercier were still there.
At last, they became tired of waiting and opened the envelope,
after ascertaining that the seals had not been broken.

At first sight, Richard and Moncharmin thought that the notes were
still there; but soon they perceived that they were not the same.
The twenty real notes were gone and had been replaced by twenty notes,
of the "Bank of St. Farce"![2]

[2] Flash notes drawn on the "Bank of St. Farce" in France
correspond with those drawn on the "Bank of Engraving" in England.--
Translator's Note.

The managers' rage and fright were unmistakable. Moncharmin wanted
to send for the commissary of police, but Richard objected.
He no doubt had a plan, for he said:

"Don't let us make ourselves ridiculous! All Paris would laugh at us.
O. G. has won the first game: we will win the second."

He was thinking of the next month's allowance.

Nevertheless, they had been so absolutely tricked that they were
bound to suffer a certain dejection. And, upon my word, it was not
difficult to understand. We must not forget that the managers had
an idea at the back of their minds, all the time, that this strange
incident might be an unpleasant practical joke on the part of their
predecessors and that it would not do to divulge it prematurely.
On the other hand, Moncharmin was sometimes troubled with a suspicion
of Richard himself, who occasionally took fanciful whims into
his head. And so they were content to await events, while keeping
an eye on Mother Giry. Richard would not have her spoken to.

"If she is a confederate," he said, "the notes are gone long ago.
But, in my opinion, she is merely an idiot."

"She's not the only idiot in this business," said Moncharmin pensively.

"Well, who could have thought it?" moaned Richard. "But don't
be afraid...next time, I shall have taken my precautions."

The next time fell on the same day that beheld the disappearance
of Christine Daae. In the morning, a note from the ghost reminded them
that the money was due. It read:

Do just as you did last time. It went very well. Put the twenty
thousand in the envelope and hand it to our excellent Mme. Giry.

And the note was accompanied by the usual envelope. They had only
to insert the notes.

This was done about half an hour before the curtain rose on the
first act of Faust. Richard showed the envelope to Moncharmin.
Then he counted the twenty thousand-franc notes in front of him
and put the notes into the envelope, but without closing it.

"And now," he said, "let's have Mother Giry in."

The old woman was sent for. She entered with a sweeping courtesy.
She still wore her black taffeta dress, the color of which was rapidly
turning to rust and lilac, to say nothing of the dingy bonnet.
She seemed in a good temper. She at once said:

"Good evening, gentlemen! It's for the envelope, I suppose?"

"Yes, Mme. Giry," said Richard, most amiably. "For the envelope
... and something else besides."

"At your service, M. Richard, at your service. And what is
the something else, please?"

"First of all, Mme. Giry, I have a little question to put to you."

"By all means, M. Richard: Mme. Giry is here to answer you."

"Are you still on good terms with the ghost?"

"Couldn't be better, sir; couldn't be better."

"Ah, we are delighted....Look here, Mme. Giry," said Richard,
in the tone of making an important confidence. "We may just as well
tell you, among ourselves...you're no fool!"

"Why, sir," exclaimed the box-keeper, stopping the pleasant nodding
of the black feathers in her dingy bonnet, "I assure you no one has
ever doubted that!"

"We are quite agreed and we shall soon understand one another.
The story of the ghost is all humbug, isn't it?...Well,
still between ourselves,...it has lasted long enough."

Mme. Giry looked at the managers as though they were talking Chinese.
She walked up to Richard's table and asked, rather anxiously:

"What do you mean? I don't understand."

"Oh, you, understand quite well. In any case, you've got to understand.
... And, first of all, tell us his name."

"Whose name?"

"The name of the man whose accomplice you are, Mme. Giry!"

"I am the ghost's accomplice? I?...His accomplice in what, pray?"

"You do all he wants."

"Oh! He's not very troublesome, you know."

"And does he still tip you?"

"I mustn't complain."

"How much does he give you for bringing him that envelope?"

"Ten francs."

"You poor thing! That's not much, is it?


"I'll tell you that presently, Mme. Giry. Just now we should like
to know for what extraordinary reason you have given yourself body
and soul, to this ghost...Mme. Giry's friendship and devotion
are not to be bought for five francs or ten francs."

"That's true enough....And I can tell you the reason, sir.
There's no disgrace about it. .. on the contrary."

"We're quite sure of that, Mme. Giry!"

"Well, it's like this...only the ghost doesn't like me to talk
about his business."

"Indeed?" sneered Richard.

"But this is a matter that concerns myself alone....Well,
it was in Box Five one evening, I found a letter addressed to myself,
a sort of note written in red ink. I needn't read the letter to
you sir; I know it by heart, and I shall never forget it if I live
to be a hundred!"

And Mme. Giry, drawing herself up, recited the letter with
touching eloquence:


1825. Mlle. Menetrier, leader of the ballet, became Marquise
de Cussy.

1832. Mlle. Marie Taglioni, a dancer, became Comtesse Gilbert
des Voisins.

1846. La Sota, a dancer, married a brother of the King of Spain.

1847. Lola Montes, a dancer, became the morganatic wife of King
Louis of Bavaria and was created Countess of Landsfeld.

1848. Mlle. Maria, a dancer, became Baronne d'Herneville.

1870. Theresa Hessier, a dancer, married Dom Fernando, brother to
the King of Portugal.

Richard and Moncharmin listened to the old woman, who, as she
proceeded with the enumeration of these glorious nuptials,
swelled out, took courage and, at last, in a voice bursting
with pride, flung out the last sentence of the prophetic letter:

1885. Meg Giry, Empress!

Exhausted by this supreme effort, the box-keeper fell into
a chair, saying:

"Gentlemen, the letter was signed, `Opera Ghost.' I had heard much
of the ghost, but only half believed in him. From the day when he
declared that my little Meg, the flesh of my flesh, the fruit
of my womb, would be empress, I believed in him altogether."

And really it was not necessary to make a long study of Mme. Giry's
excited features to understand what could be got out of that fine
intellect with the two words "ghost" and "empress."

But who pulled the strings of that extraordinary puppet?
That was the question.

"You have never seen him; he speaks to you and you believe all he says?"
asked Moncharmin.

"Yes. To begin with, I owe it to him that my little Meg was promoted
to be the leader of a row. I said to the ghost, `If she is to be empress
in 1885, there is no time to lose; she must become a leader at once.'
He said, `Look upon it as done.' And he had only a word to say
to M. Poligny and the thing was done."

"So you see that M. Poligny saw him!"

"No, not any more than I did; but he heard him. The ghost said
a word in his ear, you know, on the evening when he left Box Five,
looking so dreadfully pale."

Moncharmin heaved a sigh. "What a business!" he groaned.

"Ah!" said Mme. Giry. "I always thought there were secrets between
the ghost and M. Poligny. Anything that the ghost asked M. Poligny
to do M. Poligny did. M. Poligny could refuse the ghost nothing."

"You hear, Richard: Poligny could refuse the ghost nothing."

"Yes, yes, I hear!" said Richard. "M. Poligny is a friend of
the ghost; and, as Mme. Giry is a friend of M. Poligny, there we are!
... But I don't care a hang about M. Poligny," he added roughly.
"The only person whose fate really interests me is Mme. Giry.
... Mme. Giry, do you know what is in this envelope?"

"Why, of course not," she said.

"Well, look."

Mine. Giry looked into the envelope with a lackluster eye,
which soon recovered its brilliancy.

"Thousand-franc notes!" she cried.

"Yes, Mme. Giry, thousand-franc notes! And you knew it!"

"I, sir? I?...I swear..."

"Don't swear, Mme. Giry!...And now I will tell you the second
reason why I sent for you. Mme. Giry, I am going to have you arrested."

The two black feathers on the dingy bonnet, which usually affected
the attitude of two notes of interrogation, changed into two notes
of exclamation; as for the bonnet itself, it swayed in menace
on the old lady's tempestuous chignon. Surprise, indignation,
protest and dismay were furthermore displayed by little Meg's mother
in a sort of extravagant movement of offended virtue, half bound,
half slide, that brought her right under the nose of M. Richard,
who could not help pushing back his chair.


The mouth that spoke those words seemed to spit the three teeth
that were left to it into Richard's face.

M. Richard behaved like a hero. He retreated no farther.
His threatening forefinger seemed already to be pointing out
the keeper of Box Five to the absent magistrates.

"I am going to have you arrested, Mme. Giry, as a thief!"

"Say that again!"

And Mme. Giry caught Mr. Manager Richard a mighty box on the ear,
before Mr. Manager Moncharmin had time to intervene. But it
was not the withered hand of the angry old beldame that fell on
the managerial ear, but the envelope itself, the cause of all the trouble,
the magic envelope that opened with the blow, scattering the bank-notes,
which escaped in a fantastic whirl of giant butterflies.

The two managers gave a shout, and the same thought made them both
go on their knees, feverishly, picking up and hurriedly examining
the precious scraps of paper.

"Are they still genuine, Moncharmin?"

"Are they still genuine, Richard?"

"Yes, they are still genuine!"

Above their heads, Mme. Giry's three teeth were clashing in a
noisy contest, full of hideous interjections. But all that could
be clearly distinguished was this LEIT-MOTIF:

"I, a thief!...I, a thief, I?"

She choked with rage. She shouted:

"I never heard of such a thing!"

And, suddenly, she darted up to Richard again.

"In any case," she yelped, "you, M. Richard, ought to know better
than I where the twenty thousand francs went to!"

"I?" asked Richard, astounded. "And how should I know?"

Moncharmin, looking severe and dissatisfied, at once insisted
that the good lady should explain herself.

"What does this mean, Mme. Giry?" he asked. "And why do you say that
M. Richard ought to know better than you where the twenty-thousand
francs went to?"

As for Richard, who felt himself turning red under Moncharmin's eyes,
he took Mme. Giry by the wrist and shook it violently. In a voice
growling and rolling like thunder, he roared:

"Why should I know better than you where the twenty-thousand francs
went to? Why? Answer me!"

"Because they went into your pocket!" gasped the old woman,
looking at him as if he were the devil incarnate.

Richard would have rushed upon Mme. Giry, if Moncharmin had not
stayed his avenging hand and hastened to ask her, more gently:

"How can you suspect my partner, M. Richard, of putting twenty-thousand
francs in his pocket?"

"I never said that," declared Mme. Giry, "seeing that it was myself
who put the twenty-thousand francs into M. Richard's pocket."
And she added, under her voice, "There! It's out!...And may
the ghost forgive me!"

Richard began bellowing anew, but Moncharmin authoritatively ordered
him to be silent.

"Allow me! Allow me! Let the woman explain herself. Let me
question her." And he added: "It is really astonishing that you
should take up such a tone!...We are on the verge of clearing
up the whole mystery. And you're in a rage!...You're wrong
to behave like that. .. I'm enjoying myself immensely."

Mme. Giry, like the martyr that she was, raised her head, her face
beaming with faith in her own innocence.

"You tell me there were twenty-thousand francs in the envelope
which I put into M. Richard's pocket; but I tell you again that I
knew nothing about it... Nor M. Richard either, for that matter!"

"Aha!" said Richard, suddenly assuming a swaggering air which
Moncharmin did not like. "I knew nothing either! You put
twenty-thousand francs in my pocket and I knew nothing either!
I am very glad to hear it, Mme. Giry!"

"Yes," the terrible dame agreed, "yes, it's true. We neither of us
knew anything. But you, you must have ended by finding out!"

Richard would certainly have swallowed Mme. Giry alive,
if Moncharmin had not been there! But Moncharmin protected her.
He resumed his questions:

"What sort of envelope did you put in M. Richard's pocket?
It was not the one which we gave you, the one which you took to Box
Five before our eyes; and yet that was the one which contained
the twenty-thousand francs."

"I beg your pardon. The envelope which M. le Directeur gave
me was the one which I slipped into M. le Directeur's pocket,"
explained Mme. Giry. "The one which I took to the ghost's box was
another envelope, just like it, which the ghost gave me beforehand
and which I hid up my sleeve."

So saying, Mme. Giry took from her sleeve an envelope ready prepared
and similarly addressed to that containing the twenty-thousand francs.
The managers took it from her. They examined it and saw that it
was fastened with seals stamped with their own managerial seal.
They opened it. It contained twenty Bank of St. Farce notes like
those which had so much astounded them the month before.

"How simple!" said Richard.

"How simple!" repeated Moncharmin. And he continued with his eyes
fixed upon Mme. Giry, as though trying to hypnotize her.

"So it was the ghost who gave you this envelope and told you to
substitute it for the one which we gave you? And it was the ghost
who told you to put the other into M. Richard's pocket?"

"Yes, it was the ghost."

"Then would you mind giving us a specimen of your little talents?
Here is the envelope. Act as though we knew nothing."

"As you please, gentlemen."

Mme. Giry took the envelope with the twenty notes inside
it and made for the door. She was on the point of going
out when the two managers rushed at her:

"Oh, no! Oh, no! We're not going to be `done' a second time!
Once bitten, twice shy!"

"I beg your pardon, gentlemen," said the old woman, in self-excuse,
"you told me to act as though you knew nothing....Well,
if you knew nothing, I should go away with your envelope!"

"And then how would you slip it into my pocket?" argued Richard,
whom Moncharmin fixed with his left eye, while keeping his right on
Mme. Giry: a proceeding likely to strain his sight, but Moncharmin
was prepared to go to any length to discover the truth.

"I am to slip it into your pocket when you least expect it, sir.
You know that I always take a little turn behind the scenes,
in the course of the evening, and I often go with my daughter
to the ballet-foyer, which I am entitled to do, as her mother;
I bring her her shoes, when the ballet is about to begin...in fact,
I come and go as I please....The subscribers come and go too.
... So do you, sir....There are lots of people about...
I go behind you and slip the envelope into the tail-pocket of your
dress-coat....There's no witchcraft about that!"

"No witchcraft!" growled Richard, rolling his eyes like Jupiter Tonans.
"No witchcraft! Why, I've just caught you in a lie, you old witch!"

Mme. Giry bristled, with her three teeth sticking out of her mouth.

"And why, may I ask?"

"Because I spent that evening watching Box Five and the sham envelope
which you put there. I did not go to the ballet-foyer for a second."

"No, sir, and I did not give you the envelope that evening, but at
the next performance...on the evening when the under-secretary
of state for fine arts..."

At these words, M. Richard suddenly interrupted Mme. Giry:

"Yes, that's true, I remember now! The under-secretary went behind
the scenes. He asked for me. I went down to the ballet-foyer
for a moment. I was on the foyer steps....The under-secretary
and his chief clerk were in the foyer itself. I suddenly turned
around...you had passed behind me, Mme. Giry... You seemed
to push against me....Oh, I can see you still, I can see you still!"

"Yes, that's it, sir, that's it. I had just finished my little business.
That pocket of yours, sir, is very handy!"

And Mme. Giry once more suited the action to the word, She passed
behind M. Richard and, so nimbly that Moncharmin himself was impressed
by it, slipped the envelope into the pocket of one of the tails
of M. Richard's dress-coat.

"Of course!" exclaimed Richard, looking a little pale. "It's very
clever of O. G. The problem which he had to solve was this:
how to do away with any dangerous intermediary between the man
who gives the twenty-thousand francs and the man who receives it.
And by far the best thing he could hit upon was to come and take
the money from my pocket without my noticing it, as I myself did not
know that it was there. It's wonderful!"

"Oh, wonderful, no doubt!" Moncharmin agreed. "Only, you forget,
Richard, that I provided ten-thousand francs of the twenty
and that nobody put anything in my pocket!"

Chapter XVII The Safety-Pin Again

Moncharmin's last phrase so dearly expressed the suspicion in which he
now held his partner that it was bound to cause a stormy explanation,
at the end of which it was agreed that Richard should yield to all
Moncharmin's wishes, with the object of helping him to discover
the miscreant who was victimizing them.

This brings us to the interval after the Garden Act, with the strange
conduct observed by M. Remy and those curious lapses from the dignity
that might be expected of the managers. It was arranged between
Richard and Moncharmin, first, that Richard should repeat the exact
movements which he had made on the night of the disappearance
of the first twenty-thousand francs; and, second, that Moncharmin
should not for an instant lose sight of Richard's coat-tail pocket,
into which Mme. Giry was to slip the twenty-thousand francs.

M. Richard went and placed himself at the identical spot where he
had stood when he bowed to the under-secretary for fine arts.
M. Moncharmin took up his position a few steps behind him.

Mme. Giry passed, rubbed up against M. Richard, got rid of her
twenty-thousand francs in the manager's coat-tail pocket
and disappeared....Or rather she was conjured away.
In accordance with the instructions received from Moncharmin a few
minutes earlier, Mercier took the good lady to the acting-manager's
office and turned the key on her, thus making it impossible
for her to communicate with her ghost.

Meanwhile, M. Richard was bending and bowing and scraping and
walking backward, just as if he had that high and mighty minister,
the under-secretary for fine arts, before him. Only, though these
marks of politeness would have created no astonishment if the
under-secretary of state had really been in front of M. Richard,
they caused an easily comprehensible amazement to the spectators
of this very natural but quite inexplicable scene when M. Richard
had no body in front of him.

M. Richard bowed...to nobody; bent his back...before nobody;
and walked backward...before nobody....And, a few steps
behind him, M. Moncharmin did the same thing that he was doing
in addition to pushing away M. Remy and begging M. de La Borderie,
the ambassador, and the manager of the Credit Central "not to touch
M. le Directeur."

Moncharmin, who had his own ideas, did not want Richard to come
to him presently, when the twenty-thousand francs were gone,
and say:

"Perhaps it was the ambassador...or the manager of the Credit
Central...or Remy."

The more so as, at the time of the first scene,
as Richard himself admitted, Richard had met nobody
in that part of the theater after Mme. Giry had brushed up against him. ...

Having begun by walking backward in order to bow, Richard continued
to do so from prudence, until he reached the passage leading
to the offices of the management. In this way, he was constantly
watched by Moncharmin from behind and himself kept an eye on any
one approaching from the front. Once more, this novel method
of walking behind the scenes, adopted by the managers of our
National Academy of Music, attracted attention; but the managers
themselves thought of nothing but their twenty-thousand francs.

On reaching the half-dark passage, Richard said to Moncharmin,
in a low voice:

"I am sure that nobody has touched me....You had now better
keep at some distance from me and watch me till I come to door
of the office: it is better not to arouse suspicion and we can
see anything that happens."

But Moncharmin replied. "No, Richard, no! You walk ahead and I'll
walk immediately behind you! I won't leave you by a step!"

"But, in that case," exclaimed Richard, "they will never steal
our twenty-thousand francs!"

"I should hope not, indeed!" declared Moncharmin.

"Then what we are doing is absurd!"

"We are doing exactly what we did last time....Last time,
I joined you as you were leaving the stage and followed close behind
you down this passage."

"That's true!" sighed Richard, shaking his head and passively
obeying Moncharmin.

Two minutes later, the joint managers locked themselves into
their office. Moncharmin himself put the key in his pocket:

"We remained locked up like this, last time," he said, "until you
left the Opera to go home."

"That's so. No one came and disturbed us, I suppose?"

"No one."

"Then," said Richard, who was trying to collect his memory, "then I
must certainly have been robbed on my way home from the Opera."

"No," said Moncharmin in a drier tone than ever, "no, that's impossible.
For I dropped you in my cab. The twenty-thousand francs disappeared
at your place: there's not a shadow of a doubt about that."

"It's incredible!" protested Richard. "I am sure of my servants...
and if one of them had done it, he would have disappeared since."

Moncharmin shrugged his shoulders, as though to say that he
did not wish to enter into details, and Richard began to think
that Moncharmin was treating him in a very insupportable fashion.

"Moncharmin, I've had enough of this!"

"Richard, I've had too much of it!"

"Do you dare to suspect me?"

"Yes, of a silly joke."

"One doesn't joke with twenty-thousand francs."

"That's what I think," declared Moncharmin, unfolding a newspaper
and ostentatiously studying its contents.

"What are you doing?" asked Richard. "Are you going to read
the paper next?"

"Yes, Richard, until I take you home."

"Like last time?"

"Yes, like last time."

Richard snatched the paper from Moncharmin's hands.
Moncharmin stood up, more irritated than ever, and found himself
faced by an exasperated Richard, who, crossing his arms on his chest, said:

"Look here, I'm thinking of this, I'M THINKING OF WHAT I MIGHT
THINK if, like last time, after my spending the evening alone
with you, you brought me home and if, at the moment of parting,
I perceived that twenty-thousand francs had disappeared from my
coat-pocket...like last time."

"And what might you think?" asked Moncharmin, crimson with rage.

"I might think that, as you hadn't left me by a foot's breadth
and as, by your own wish, you were the only one to approach me,
like last time, I might think that, if that twenty-thousand francs
was no longer in my pocket, it stood a very good chance of being
in yours!"

Moncharmin leaped up at the suggestion.

"Oh!" he shouted. "A safety-pin!"

"What do you want a safety-pin for?"

"To fasten you up with!...A safety-pin!...A safety-pin!"

"You want to fasten me with a safety-pin?"

"Yes, to fasten you to the twenty-thousand francs! Then, whether
it's here, or on the drive from here to your place, or at your place,
you will feel the hand that pulls at your pocket and you will
see if it's mine! Oh, so you're suspecting me now, are you?
A safety-pin!"

And that was the moment when Moncharmin opened the door
on the passage and shouted:

"A safety-pin!...somebody give me a safety-pin!"

And we also know how, at the same moment, Remy, who had no safety-pin,
was received by Moncharmin, while a boy procured the pin so eagerly
longed for. And what happened was this: Moncharmin first locked
the door again. Then he knelt down behind Richard's back.

"I hope," he said, "that the notes are still there?"

"So do I," said Richard.

"The real ones?" asked Moncharmin, resolved not to be "had" this time.

"Look for yourself," said Richard. "I refuse to touch them."

Moncharmin took the envelope from Richard's pocket and drew
out the bank-notes with a trembling hand, for, this time,
in order frequently to make sure of the presence of the notes,
he had not sealed the envelope nor even fastened it. He felt
reassured on finding that they were all there and quite genuine.
He put them back in the tail-pocket and pinned them with great care.
Then he sat down behind Richard's coat-tails and kept his eyes
fixed on them, while Richard, sitting at his writing-table, did
not stir.

"A little patience, Richard," said Moncharmin. "We have only
a few minutes to wait....The clock will soon strike twelve.
Last time, we left at the last stroke of twelve."

"Oh, I shall have all the patience necessary!"

The time passed, slow, heavy, mysterious, stifling. Richard tried
to laugh.

"I shall end by believing in the omnipotence of the ghost," he said.
"Just now, don't you find something uncomfortable, disquieting,
alarming in the atmosphere of this room?"

"You're quite right," said Moncharmin, who was really impressed.

"The ghost!" continued Richard, in a low voice, as though fearing lest
he should be overheard by invisible ears. "The ghost! Suppose, all
the same, it were a ghost who puts the magic envelopes on the table
... who talks in Box Five...who killed Joseph Buquet...
who unhooked the chandelier...and who robs us! For, after all,
after all, after all, there is no one here except you and me,
and, if the notes disappear and neither you nor I have anything to
do with it, well, we shall have to believe in the ghost...in the ghost."

At that moment, the clock on the mantlepiece gave its warning click
and the first stroke of twelve struck.

The two managers shuddered. The perspiration streamed from
their foreheads. The twelfth stroke sounded strangely in their ears.

When the clock stopped, they gave a sigh and rose from their chairs.

"I think we can go now," said Moncharmin.

"I think so," Richard a agreed.

"Before we go, do you mind if I look in your pocket?"

"But, of course, Moncharmin, YOU MUST!...Well?" he asked,
as Moncharmin was feeling at the pocket.

"Well, I can feel the pin."

"Of course, as you said, we can't be robbed without noticing it."

But Moncharmin, whose hands were still fumbling, bellowed:

"I can feel the pin, but I can't feel the notes!"

"Come, no joking, Moncharmin!...This isn't the time for it."

"Well, feel for yourself."

Richard tore off his coat. The two managers turned the pocket
inside out. THE POCKET WAS EMPTY. And the curious thing was
that the pin remained, stuck in the same place.

Richard and Moncharmin turned pale. There was no longer any doubt
about the witchcraft.

"The ghost!" muttered Moncharmin.

But Richard suddenly sprang upon his partner.

"No one but you has touched my pocket! Give me back my twenty-thousand
francs!...Give me back my twenty-thousand francs!..."

"On my soul," sighed Moncharmin, who was ready to swoon, "on my soul,
I swear that I haven't got it!"

Then somebody knocked at the door. Moncharmin opened it automatically,
seemed hardly to recognize Mercier, his business-manager, exchanged
a few words with him, without knowing what he was saying and,
with an unconscious movement, put the safety-pin, for which he
had no further use, into the hands of his bewildered subordinate....

Chapter XVIII The Commissary, The Viscount and the Persian

The first words of the commissary of police, on entering
the managers' office, were to ask after the missing prima donna.

"Is Christine Daae here?"

"Christine Daae here?" echoed Richard. "No. Why?"

As for Moncharmin, he had not the strength left to utter a word.

Richard repeated, for the commissary and the compact crowd which
had followed him into the office observed an impressive silence.

"Why do you ask if Christine Daae is here, M. LE COMMISSAIRE?"

"Because she has to be found," declared the commissary of police solemnly.

"What do you mean, she has to be found? Has she disappeared?"

"In the middle of the performance!"

"In the middle of the performance? This is extraordinary!"

"Isn't it? And what is quite as extraordinary is that you should
first learn it from me!"

"Yes," said Richard, taking his head in his hands and muttering.
"What is this new business? Oh, it's enough to make a man send in
his resignation!"

And he pulled a few hairs out of his mustache without even knowing
what he was doing.

"So she...so she disappeared in the middle of the performance?"
he repeated.

"Yes, she was carried off in the Prison Act, at the moment when she
was invoking the aid of the angels; but I doubt if she was carried
off by an angel."

"And I am sure that she was!"

Everybody looked round. A young man, pale and trembling
with excitement, repeated:

"I am sure of it!"

"Sure of what?" asked Mifroid.

"That Christine Daae was carried off by an angel, M. LE COMMISSAIRE
and I can tell you his name."

"Aha, M. le Vicomte de Chagny! So you maintain that Christine Daae
was carried off by an angel: an angel of the Opera, no doubt?"

"Yes, monsieur, by an angel of the Opera; and I will tell you
where he lives...when we are alone."

"You are right, monsieur."

And the commissary of police, inviting Raoul to take a chair,
cleared the room of all the rest, excepting the managers.

Then Raoul spoke:

"M. le Commissaire, the angel is called Erik, he lives in the Opera
and he is the Angel of Music!"

"The Angel of Music! Really! That is very curious!...The
Angel of Music!" And, turning to the managers, M. Mifroid asked,
"Have you an Angel of Music on the premises, gentlemen?"

Richard and Moncharmin shook their heads, without even speaking.

"Oh," said the viscount, "those gentlemen have heard of the Opera ghost.
Well, I am in a position to state that the Opera ghost and the Angel
of Music are one and the same person; and his real name is Erik."

M. Mifroid rose and looked at Raoul attentively.

"I beg your pardon, monsieur but is it your intention to make fun
of the law? And, if not, what is all this about the Opera ghost?"

"I say that these gentlemen have heard of him."

"Gentlemen, it appears that you know the Opera ghost?"

Richard rose, with the remaining hairs of his mustache in his hand.

"No, M. Commissary, no, we do not know him, but we wish that we did,
for this very evening he has robbed us of twenty-thousand francs!"

And Richard turned a terrible look on Moncharmin, which seemed
to say:

"Give me back the twenty-thousand francs, or I'll tell the whole story."

Moncharmin understood what he meant, for, with a distracted gesture,
he said:

"Oh, tell everything and have done with it!"

As for Mifroid, he looked at the managers and at Raoul by turns
and wondered whether he had strayed into a lunatic asylum.
He passed his hand through his hair.

"A ghost," he said, "who, on the same evening, carries off
an opera-singer and steals twenty-thousand francs is a ghost who
must have his hands very full! If you don't mind, we will take
the questions in order. The singer first, the twenty-thousand
francs after. Come, M. de Chagny, let us try to talk seriously.
You believe that Mlle. Christine Daae has been carried off by an
individual called Erik. Do you know this person? Have you seen him?"



"In a church yard."

M. Mifroid gave a start, began to scrutinize Raoul again and said:

"Of course!...That's where ghosts usually hang out!...And
what were you doing in that churchyard?"

"Monsieur," said Raoul, "I can quite understand how absurd my replies
must seem to you. But I beg you to believe that I am in full
possession of my faculties. The safety of the person dearest
to me in the world is at stake. I should like to convince you
in a few words, for time is pressing and every minute is valuable.
Unfortunately, if I do not tell you the strangest story that ever
was from the beginning, you will not believe me. I will tell you all
I know about the Opera ghost, M. Commissary. Alas, I do not know much!..."

"Never mind, go on, go on!" exclaimed Richard and Moncharmin,
suddenly greatly interested.

Unfortunately for their hopes of learning some detail that could put
them on the track of their hoaxer, they were soon compelled to accept
the fact that M. Raoul de Chagny had completely lost his head.
All that story about Perros-Guirec, death's heads and enchanted violins,
could only have taken birth in the disordered brain of a youth
mad with love. It was evident, also, that Mr. Commissary Mifroid
shared their view; and the magistrate would certainly have cut
short the incoherent narrative if circumstances had not taken
it upon themselves to interrupt it.

The door opened and a man entered, curiously dressed in an enormous
frock-coat and a tall hat, at once shabby and shiny, that came down to
his ears. He went up to the commissary and spoke to him in a whisper.
It was doubtless a detective come to deliver an important communication.

During this conversation, M. Mifroid did not take his eyes off Raoul.
At last, addressing him, he said:

"Monsieur, we have talked enough about the ghost. We will
now talk about yourself a little, if you have no objection:
you were to carry off Mlle. Christine Daae to-night?"

"Yes, M. le Commissaire."

"After the performance?"

"Yes, M. le Commissaire."

"All your arrangements were made?"

"Yes, M. le Commissaire."

"The carriage that brought you was to take you both away.
... There were fresh horses in readiness at every stage.

"That is true, M. le Commissaire."

"And nevertheless your carriage is still outside the Rotunda
awaiting your orders, is it not?"

"Yes, M. le Commissaire."

"Did you know that there were three other carriages there,
in addition to yours?"

"I did not pay the least attention."

"They were the carriages of Mlle. Sorelli, which could not find room
in the Cour de l'Administration; of Carlotta; and of your brother,
M. le Comte de Chagny. ..."

"Very likely. ..."

"What is certain is that, though your carriage and Sorelli's
and Carlotta's are still there, by the Rotunda pavement, M. le
Comte de Chagny's carriage is gone."

"This has nothing to say to..."

"I beg your pardon. Was not M. le Comte opposed to your marriage
with Mlle. Daae?"

"That is a matter that only concerns the family."

"You have answered my question: he was opposed to it...and that
was why you were carrying Christine Daae out of your brother's reach.
... Well, M. de Chagny, allow me to inform you that your brother has
been smarter than you! It is he who has carried off Christine Daae!"

"Oh, impossible!" moaned Raoul, pressing his hand to his heart.
"Are you sure?"

"Immediately after the artist's disappearance, which was procured
by means which we have still to ascertain, he flung into his carriage,
which drove right across Paris at a furious pace."

"Across Paris?" asked poor Raoul, in a hoarse voice. "What do you
mean by across Paris?"

"Across Paris and out of Paris...by the Brussels road."

"Oh," cried the young man, "I shall catch them!" And he rushed
out of the office.

"And bring her back to us!" cried the commisary gaily...."Ah,
that's a trick worth two of the Angel of Music's!"

And, turning to his audience, M. Mifroid delivered a little lecture
on police methods.

"I don't know for a moment whether M. le Comte de Chagny has really
carried Christine Daae off or not...but I want to know and I
believe that, at this moment, no one is more anxious to inform us
than his brother....And now he is flying in pursuit of him!
He is my chief auxiliary! This, gentlemen, is the art of the police,
which is believed to be so complicated and which, nevertheless appears
so simple as soon its you see that it consists in getting your work
done by people who have nothing to do with the police."

But M. le Commissaire de Police Mifroid would not have been quite
so satisfied with himself if he had known that the rush of his rapid
emissary was stopped at the entrance to the very first corridor.
A tall figure blocked Raoul's way.

"Where are you going so fast, M. de Chagny?" asked a voice.

Raoul impatiently raised his eyes and recognized the astrakhan cap
of an hour ago. He stopped:

"It's you!" he cried, in a feverish voice. "You, who know Erik's
secrets and don't want me to speak of them. Who are you?"

"You know who I am!...I am the Persian!"

Chapter XIX The Viscount and the Persian

Raoul now remembered that his brother had once shown him that
mysterious person, of whom nothing was known except that he was a Persian
and that he lived in a little old-fashioned flat in the Rue de Rivoli.

The man with the ebony skin, the eyes of jade and the astrakhan
cap bent over Raoul.

"I hope, M. de Chagny," he said, "that you have not betrayed
Erik's secret?"

"And why should I hesitate to betray that monster, sir?"
Raoul rejoined haughtily, trying to shake off the intruder.
"Is he your friend, by any chance?"

"I hope that you said nothing about Erik, sir, because Erik's
secret is also Christine Daae's and to talk about one is to talk
about the other!"

"Oh, sir," said Raoul, becoming more and more impatient, "you seem
to know about many things that interest me; and yet I have no time
to listen to you!"

"Once more, M. de Chagny, where are you going so fast?"

"Can not you guess? To Christine Daae's assistance. ..."

"Then, sir, stay here, for Christine Daae is here!"

"With Erik?"

"With Erik."

"How do you know?"

"I was at the performance and no one in the world but Erik could
contrive an abduction like that!...Oh," he said, with a deep sigh,
"I recognized the monster's touch!..."

"You know him then?"

The Persian did not reply, but heaved a fresh sigh.

"Sir," said Raoul, "I do not know what your intentions are, but can
you do anything to help me? I mean, to help Christine Daae?"

"I think so, M. de Chagny, and that is why I spoke to you."

"What can you do?"

"Try to take you to her...and to him."

"If you can do me that service, sir, my life is yours!...One
word more: the commissary of police tells me that Christine Daae
has been carried off by my brother, Count Philippe."

"Oh, M. de Chagny, I don't believe a word of it."

"It's not possible, is it?"

"I don't know if it is possible or not; but there are ways and
ways of carrying people off; and M. le Comte Philippe has never,
as far as I know, had anything to do with witchcraft."

"Your arguments are convincing, sir, and I am a fool!...Oh,
let us make haste! I place myself entirely in your hands!...
How should I not believe you, when you are the only one to believe
me...when you are the only one not to smile when Erik's name
is mentioned?"

And the young man impetuously seized the Persian's hands.
They were ice-cold.

"Silence!" said the Persian, stopping and listening to the distant
sounds of the theater. "We must not mention that name here.
Let us say `he' and `him;' then there will be less danger of attracting
his attention."

"Do you think he is near us?"

"It is quite possible, Sir, if he is not, at this moment,
with his victim, IN THE HOUSE ON THE LAKE."

"Ah, so you know that house too?"

"If he is not there, he may be here, in this wall, in this floor,
in this ceiling!...Come!"

And the Persian, asking Raoul to deaden the sound of his footsteps,
led him down passages which Raoul had never seen before, even at the
time when Christine used to take him for walks through that labyrinth.

"If only Darius has come!" said the Persian.

"Who is Darius?"

"Darius? My servant."

They were now in the center of a real deserted square, an immense
apartment ill-lit by a small lamp. The Persian stopped Raoul and,
in the softest of whispers, asked:

"What did you say to the commissary?"

"I said that Christine Daae's abductor was the Angel of Music,
ALIAS the Opera ghost, and that the real name was..."

"Hush!...And did he believe you?"


"He attached no importance to what you said?"


"He took you for a bit of a madman?"


"So much the better!" sighed the Persian.

And they continued their road. After going up and down several
staircases which Raoul had never seen before, the two men
found themselves in front of a door which the Persian opened
with a master-key. The Persian and Raoul were both, of course,
in dress-clothes; but, whereas Raoul had a tall hat, the Persian
wore the astrakhan cap which I have already mentioned. It was
an infringement of the rule which insists upon the tall hat behind
the scenes; but in France foreigners are allowed every license:
the Englishman his traveling-cap, the Persian his cap of astrakhan.

"Sir," said the Persian, "your tall hat will be in your way:
you would do well to leave it in the dressing-room."

"What dressing-room?" asked Raoul.

"Christine Daae's."

And the Persian, letting Raoul through the door which he
had just opened, showed him the actress' room opposite.
They were at the end of the passage the whole length of which Raoul
had been accustomed to traverse before knocking at Christine's door.

"How well you know the Opera, sir!"

"Not so well as `he' does!" said the Persian modestly.

And he pushed the young man into Christine's dressing-room,
which was as Raoul had left it a few minutes earlier.

Closing the door, the Persian went to a very thin partition that
separated the dressing-room from a big lumber-room next to it.
He listened and then coughed loudly.

There was a sound of some one stirring in the lumber-room; and, a few
seconds later, a finger tapped at the door.

"Come in," said the Persian.

A man entered, also wearing an astrakhan cap and dressed in a long
overcoat. He bowed and took a richly carved case from under his coat,
put it on the dressing-table, bowed once again and went to the door.

"Did no one see you come in, Darius?"

"No, master."

"Let no one see you go out."

The servant glanced down the passage and swiftly disappeared.

The Persian opened the case. It contained a pair of long pistols.

"When Christine Daae was carried off, sir, I sent word to my servant
to bring me these pistols. I have had them a long time and they
can be relied upon."

"Do you mean to fight a duel?" asked the young man.

"It will certainly be a duel which we shall have to fight,"
said the other, examining the priming of his pistols. "And what a duel!"
Handing one of the pistols to Raoul, he added, "In this duel,
we shall be two to one; but you must be prepared for everything,
for we shall be fighting the most terrible adversary that you
can imagine. But you love Christine Daae, do you not?"

"I worship the ground she stands on! But you, sir, who do not
love her, tell me why I find you ready to risk your life for her!
You must certainly hate Erik!"

"No, sir," said the Persian sadly, "I do not hate him. If I hated him,
he would long ago have ceased doing harm."

"Has he done you harm?"

"I have forgiven him the harm which he has done me."

"I do not understand you. You treat him as a monster, you speak
of his crime, he has done you harm and I find in you the same
inexplicable pity that drove me to despair when I saw it in Christine!"

The Persian did not reply. He fetched a stool and set it
against the wall facing the great mirror that filled the whole
of the wall-space opposite. Then he climbed on the stool and,
with his nose to the wallpaper, seemed to be looking for something.

"Ah," he said, after a long search, "I have it!" And, raising his
finger above his head, he pressed against a corner in the pattern
of the paper. Then he turned round and jumped off the stool:

"In half a minute," he said, "he shall be ON HIS ROAD!" and crossing
the whole of the dressing-room he felt the great mirror.

"No, it is not yielding yet," he muttered.

"Oh, are we going out by the mirror?" asked Raoul. "Like Christine Daae."

"So you knew that Christine Daae went out by that mirror?"

"She did so before my eyes, sir! I was hidden behind the curtain
of the inner room and I saw her vanish not by the glass, but in
the glass!"

"And what did you do?"

"I thought it was an aberration of my senses, a mad dream.

"Or some new fancy of the ghost's!" chuckled the Persian.
"Ah, M. de Chagny," he continued, still with his hand on the mirror,
"would that we had to do with a ghost! We could then leave our pistols
in their case....Put down your hat, please...there...
and now cover your shirt-front as much as you can with your coat...
as I am doing....Bring the lapels forward...turn up
the collar....We must make ourselves as invisible as possible."

Bearing against the mirror, after a short silence, he said:

"It takes some time to release the counterbalance, when you press
on the spring from the inside of the room. It is different when you
are behind the wall and can act directly on the counterbalance.
Then the mirror turns at once and is moved with incredible rapidity."

"What counterbalance?" asked Raoul.

"Why, the counterbalance that lifts the whole of this wall on
to its pivot. You surely don't expect it to move of itself,
by enchantment! If you watch, you will see the mirror first rise
an inch or two and then shift an inch or two from left to right.
It will then be on a pivot and will swing round."

"It's not turning!" said Raoul impatiently.

"Oh, wait! You have time enough to be impatient, sir! The mechanism
has obviously become rusty, or else the spring isn't working.
...Unless it is something else," added the Persian, anxiously.


"He may simply have cut the cord of the counterbalance and blocked
the whole apparatus."

"Why should he? He does not know that we are coming this way!"

"I dare say he suspects it, for he knows that I understand the system."

"It's not turning!...And Christine, sir, Christine?"

The Persian said coldly:

"We shall do all that it is humanly possible to do!...But
he may stop us at the first step!...He commands the walls,
the doors and the trapdoors. In my country, he was known by a name
which means the `trap-door lover.'"

"But why do these walls obey him alone? He did not build them!"

"Yes, sir, that is just what he did!"

Raoul looked at him in amazement; but the Persian made a sign to him
to be silent and pointed to the glass....There was a sort
of shivering reflection. Their image was troubled as in a rippling
sheet of water and then all became stationary again.

"You see, sir, that it is not turning! Let us take another road!"

"To-night, there is no other!" declared the Persian, in a singularly
mournful voice. "And now, look out! And be ready to fire."

He himself raised his pistol opposite the glass. Raoul imitated
his movement. With his free arm, the Persian drew the young man
to his chest and, suddenly, the mirror turned, in a blinding daze
of cross-lights: it turned like one of those revolving doors
which have lately been fixed to the entrances of most restaurants,
it turned, carrying Raoul and the Persian with it and suddenly
hurling them from the full light into the deepest darkness.

Chapter XX In the Cellars of the Opera

"Your hand high, ready to fire!" repeated Raoul's companion quickly.

The wall, behind them, having completed the circle which it
described upon itself, closed again; and the two men stood
motionless for a moment, holding their breath.

At last, the Persian decided to make a movement; and Raoul heard
him slip on his knees and feel for something in the dark with his
groping hands. Suddenly, the darkness was made visible by a small dark
lantern and Raoul instinctively stepped backward as though to escape
the scrutiny of a secret enemy. But he soon perceived that the light
belonged to the Persian, whose movements he was closely observing.
The little red disk was turned in every direction and Raoul
saw that the floor, the walls and the ceiling were all formed
of planking. It must have been the ordinary road taken by Erik
to reach Christine's dressing-room and impose upon her innocence.
And Raoul, remembering the Persian's remark, thought that it had been
mysteriously constructed by the ghost himself. Later, he learned
that Erik had found, all prepared for him, a secret passage,
long known to himself alone and contrived at the time of the Paris
Commune to allow the jailers to convey their prisoners straight
to the dungeons that had been constructed for them in the cellars;
for the Federates had occupied the opera-house immediately after
the eighteenth of March and had made a starting-place right at
the top for their Mongolfier balloons, which carried their incendiary
proclamations to the departments, and a state prison right at the bottom.

The Persian went on his knees and put his lantern on the ground.
He seemed to be working at the floor; and suddenly he turned off
his light. Then Raoul heard a faint click and saw a very pale
luminous square in the floor of the passage. It was as though
a window had opened on the Opera cellars, which were still lit.
Raoul no longer saw the Persian, but he suddenly felt him by his side
and heard him whisper:

"Follow me and do all that I do."

Raoul turned to the luminous aperture. Then he saw the Persian,
who was still on his knees, hang by his hands from the rim of the opening,
with his pistol between his teeth, and slide into the cellar below.

Curiously enough, the viscount had absolute confidence in the Persian,
though he knew nothing about him. His emotion when speaking of the
"monster" struck him as sincere; and, if the Persian had cherished
any sinister designs against him, he would not have armed him with
his own hands. Besides, Raoul must reach Christine at all costs.
He therefore went on his knees also and hung from the trap with both hands.

"Let go!" said a voice.

And he dropped into the arms of the Persian, who told him to lie
down flat, closed the trap-door above him and crouched down beside him.
Raoul tried to ask a question, but the Persian's hand was on his mouth
and he heard a voice which he recognized as that of the commissary
of police.

Raoul and the Persian were completely hidden behind a wooden partition.
Near them, a small staircase led to a little room in which the
commissary appeared to be walking up and down, asking questions.
The faint light was just enough to enable Raoul to distinguish the
shape of things around him. And he could not restrain a dull cry:
there were three corpses there.

The first lay on the narrow landing of the little staircase;
the two others had rolled to the bottom of the staircase.
Raoul could have touched one of the two poor wretches by passing
his fingers through the partition.

"Silence!" whispered the Persian.

He too had seen the bodies and he gave one word in explanation:


The commissary's voice was now heard more distinctly.
He was asking for information about the system of lighting,
which the stage-manager supplied. The commissary therefore
must be in the "organ" or its immediate neighborhood.

Contrary to what one might think, especially in connection with an
opera-house, the "organ" is not a musical instrument. At that time,
electricity was employed only for a very few scenic effects and for
the bells. The immense building and the stage itself were still
lit by gas; hydrogen was used to regulate and modify the lighting
of a scene; and this was done by means of a special apparatus which,
because of the multiplicity of its pipes, was known as the "organ."
A box beside the prompter's box was reserved for the chief gas-man,
who from there gave his orders to his assistants and saw that they
were executed. Mauclair stayed in this box during all the performances.

But now Mauclair was not in his box and his assistants not
in their places.

"Mauclair! Mauclair!"

The stage-manager's voice echoed through the cellars. But Mauclair
did not reply.

I have said that a door opened on a little staircase that led
to the second cellar. The commissary pushed it, but it resisted.

"I say," he said to the stage-manager, "I can't open this door:
is it always so difficult?"

The stage-manager forced it open with his shoulder. He saw that,
at the same time, he was pushing a human body and he could not keep
back an exclamation, for he recognized the body at once:

"Mauclair! Poor devil! He is dead!"

But Mr. Commissary Mifroid, whom nothing surprised, was stooping
over that big body.

"No," he said, "he is dead-drunk, which is not quite the same thing."

"It's the first time, if so," said the stage-manager

"Then some one has given him a narcotic. That is quite possible."

Mifroid went down a few steps and said:


By the light of a little red lantern, at the foot of the stairs,
they saw two other bodies. The stage-manager recognized Mauclair's
assistants. Mifroid went down and listened to their breathing.

"They are sound asleep," he said. "Very curious business!
Some person unknown must have interfered with the gas-man and his
staff...and that person unknown was obviously working on behalf
of the kidnapper....But what a funny idea to kidnap a performer
on the stage!...Send for the doctor of the theater, please."
And Mifroid repeated, "Curious, decidedly curious business!"

Then he turned to the little room, addressing the people whom Raoul
and the Persian were unable to see from where they lay.

"What do you say to all this, gentlemen? You are the only ones
who have not given your views. And yet you must have an opinion
of some sort."

Thereupon, Raoul and the Persian saw the startled faces of the joint
managers appear above the landing--and they heard Moncharmin's
excited voice:

"There are things happening here, Mr. Commissary, which we are
unable to explain."

And the two faces disappeared.

"Thank you for the information, gentlemen," said Mifroid, with a jeer.

But the stage-manager, holding his chin in the hollow of his
right hand, which is the attitude of profound thought, said:

"It is not the first time that Mauclair has fallen asleep in the theater.
I remember finding him, one evening, snoring in his little recess,
with his snuff-box beside him."

"Is that long ago?" asked M. Mifroid, carefully wiping his eye-glasses.

"No, not so very long ago....Wait a bit!...It was the night
... of course, yes...It was the night when Carlotta--you know,
Mr. Commissary--gave her famous `co-ack'!"

"Really? The night when Carlotta gave her famous `co-ack'?"

And M. Mifroid, replacing his gleaming glasses on his nose,
fixed the stage-manager with a contemplative stare.

"So Mauclair takes snuff, does he?" he asked carelessly.

"`Yes, Mr. Commissary....Look, there is his snuff-box
on that little shelf....Oh! he's a great snuff-taker!"

"So am I," said Mifroid and put the snuff-box in his pocket.

Raoul and the Persian, themselves unobserved, watched the removal
of the three bodies by a number of scene-shifters, who were
followed by the commissary and all the people with him.
Their steps were heard for a few minutes on the stage above.
When they were alone the Persian made a sign to Raoul to stand up.
Raoul did so; but, as he did not lift his hand in front of his eyes,
ready to fire, the Persian told him to resume that attitude and to
continue it, whatever happened.

"But it tires the hand unnecessarily," whispered Raoul. "If I
do fire, I shan't be sure of my aim."

"Then shift your pistol to the other hand," said the Persian.

"I can't shoot with my left hand."

Thereupon, the Persian made this queer reply, which was certainly
not calculated to throw light into the young man's flurried brain:

"It's not a question of shooting with the right hand or the left;
it's a question of holding one of your hands as though you
were going to pull the trigger of a pistol with your arm bent.
As for the pistol itself, when all is said, you can put that in
your pocket!" And he added, "Let this be clearly understood,
or I will answer for nothing. It is a matter of life and death.
And now, silence and follow me!"

The cellars of the Opera are enormous and they are five in number.
Raoul followed the Persian and wondered what he would have done
without his companion in that extraordinary labyrinth. They went
down to the third cellar; and their progress was still lit by some
distant lamp.

The lower they went, the more precautions the Persian seemed to take.
He kept on turning to Raoul to see if he was holding his arm properly,
showing him how he himself carried his hand as if always ready to fire,
though the pistol was in his pocket.

Suddenly, a loud voice made them stop. Some one above them shouted:

"All the door-shutters on the stage! The commissary of police
wants them!"

Steps were heard and shadows glided through the darkness. The Persian
drew Raoul behind a set piece. They saw passing before and above
them old men bent by age and the past burden of opera-scenery.
Some could hardly drag themselves along; others, from habit,
with stooping bodies and outstretched hands, looked for doors to shut.

They were the door-shutters, the old, worn-out scene-shifters, on
whom a charitable management had taken pity, giving them the job
of shutting doors above and below the stage. They went about
incessantly, from top to bottom of the building, shutting the doors;
and they were also called "The draft-expellers," at least at
that time, for I have little doubt that by now they are all dead.
Drafts are very bad for the voice, wherever they may come from.[3]

[3] M. Pedro Gailhard has himself told me that he created a few
additional posts as door-shutters for old stage-carpenters whom
he was unwilling to dismiss from the service of the Opera.

The two men might have stumbled over them, waking them up and
provoking a request for explanations. For the moment, M. Mifroid's
inquiry saved them from any such unpleasant encounters.

The Persian and Raoul welcomed this incident, which relieved them
of inconvenient witnesses, for some of those door-shutters, having
nothing else to do or nowhere to lay their heads, stayed at the Opera,
from idleness or necessity, and spent the night there.

But they were not left to enjoy their solitude for long. Other shades
now came down by the same way by which the door-shutters had gone up.
Each of these shades carried a little lantern and moved it about,
above, below and all around, as though looking for something or somebody.

"Hang it!" muttered the Persian. "I don't know what they are
looking for, but they might easily find us....Let us get away,
quick!...Your hand up, sir, ready to fire!...Bend your arm
... more...that's it!...Hand at the level of your eye,
as though you were fighting a duel and waiting for the word
to fire! Oh, leave your pistol in your pocket. Quick, come along,
down-stairs. Level of your eye! Question of life or death!...
Here, this way, these stairs!" They reached the fifth cellar.
"Oh, what a duel, sir, what a duel!"

Once in the fifth cellar, the Persian drew breath. He seemed
to enjoy a rather greater sense of security than he had displayed
when they both stopped in the third; but he never altered the attitude
of his hand. And Raoul, remembering the Persian's observation--"I
know these pistols can be relied upon"--was more and more astonished,
wondering why any one should be so gratified at being able to rely
upon a pistol which he did not intend to use!

But the Persian left him no time for reflection. Telling Raoul
to stay where he was, he ran up a few steps of the staircase
which they had just left and then returned.

"How stupid of us!" he whispered. "We shall soon have seen the end
of those men with their lanterns. It is the firemen going their

[4] In those days, it was still part of the firemen's duty to watch
over the safety of the Opera house outside the performances;
but this service has since been suppressed. I asked M. Pedro
Gailhard the reason, and he replied:
"It was because the management was afraid that, in their utter
inexperience of the cellars of the Opera, the firemen might set
fire to the building!"

The two men waited five minutes longer. Then the Persian took Raoul
up the stairs again; but suddenly he stopped him with a gesture.
Something moved in the darkness before them.

"Flat on your stomach!" whispered the Persian.

The two men lay flat on the floor.

They were only just in time. A shade, this time carrying no light,
just a shade in the shade, passed. It passed close to them,
near enough to touch them.

They felt the warmth of its cloak upon them. For they could
distinguish the shade sufficiently to see that it wore a cloak which
shrouded it from head to foot. On its head it had a soft felt hat....

It moved away, drawing its feet against the walls and sometimes
giving a kick into a corner.

"Whew!" said the Persian. "We've had a narrow escape; that shade
knows me and has twice taken me to the managers' office."

"Is it some one belonging to the theater police?" asked Raoul.

"It's some one much worse than that!" replied the Persian,
without giving any further explanation.[5]

[5] Like the Persian, I can give no further explanation touching
the apparition of this shade. Whereas, in this historic narrative,
everything else will be normally explained, however abnormal
the course of events may seem, I can not give the reader expressly
to understand what the Persian meant by the words, "It is some one
much worse than that!" The reader must try to guess for himself,
for I promised M. Pedro Gailhard, the former manager of the Opera,
to keep his secret regarding the extremely interesting and useful
personality of the wandering, cloaked shade which, while condemning
itself to live in the cellars of the Opera, rendered such immense
services to those who, on gala evenings, for instance, venture to stray
away from the stage. I am speaking of state services; and, upon my
word of honor, I can say no more.

"It's not...he?"

"He?...If he does not come behind us, we shall always see his
yellow eyes! That is more or less our safeguard to-night. But he
may come from behind, stealing up; and we are dead men if we do not
keep our hands as though about to fire, at the level of our eyes,
in front!"

The Persian had hardly finished speaking, when a fantastic face
came in sight...a whole fiery face, not only two yellow eyes!

Yes, a head of fire came toward them, at a man's height, but with no
body attached to it. The face shed fire, looked in the darkness
like a flame shaped as a man's face.

"Oh," said the Persian, between his teeth. "I have never seen this
before!...Pampin was not mad, after all: he had seen it!...
What can that flame be? It is not HE, but he may have sent it!
...Take care!...Take care! Your hand at the level of your eyes,
in Heaven's name, at the level of your eyes!...know most of his tricks...
but not this one....Come, let us run....it is safer.
Hand at the level of your eyes!"

And they fled down the long passage that opened before them.

After a few seconds, that seemed to them like long minutes,
they stopped.

"He doesn't often come this way," said the Persian. "This side
has nothing to do with him. This side does not lead to the lake
nor to the house on the lake....But perhaps he knows that we
are at his heels...although I promised him to leave him alone
and never to meddle in his business again!"

So saying, he turned his head and Raoul also turned his head;
and they again saw the head of fire behind their two heads.
It had followed them. And it must have run also, and perhaps faster
than they, for it seemed to be nearer to them.

At the same time, they began to perceive a certain noise of which they
could not guess the nature. They simply noticed that the sound
seemed to move and to approach with the fiery face. It was a noise
as though thousands of nails had been scraped against a blackboard,
the perfectly unendurable noise that is sometimes made by a little
stone inside the chalk that grates on the blackboard.

They continued to retreat, but the fiery face came on, came on,
gaining on them. They could see its features clearly now. The eyes
were round and staring, the nose a little crooked and the mouth large,
with a hanging lower lip, very like the eyes, nose and lip of the moon,
when the moon is quite red, bright red.

How did that red moon manage to glide through the darkness,
at a man's height, with nothing to support it, at least apparently?
And how did it go so fast, so straight ahead, with such staring,
staring eyes? And what was that scratching, scraping, grating sound
which it brought with it?

The Persian and Raoul could retreat no farther and flattened
themselves against the wall, not knowing what was going to happen
because of that incomprehensible head of fire, and especially now,
because of the more intense, swarming, living, "numerous" sound,
for the sound was certainly made up of hundreds of little sounds
that moved in the darkness, under the fiery face.

And the fiery face came on...with its noise...came level
with them!...

And the two companions, flat against their wall, felt their hair
stand on end with horror, for they now knew what the thousand
noises meant. They came in a troop, hustled along in the shadow
by innumerable little hurried waves, swifter than the waves
that rush over the sands at high tide, little night-waves foaming
under the moon, under the fiery head that was like a moon.
And the little waves passed between their legs, climbing up
their legs, irresistibly, and Raoul and the Persian could no
longer restrain their cries of horror, dismay and pain. Nor could
they continue to hold their hands at the level of their eyes:
their hands went down to their legs to push back the waves,
which were full of little legs and nails and claws and teeth.

Yes, Raoul and the Persian were ready to faint, like Pampin the fireman.
But the head of fire turned round in answer to their cries,
and spoke to them:

"Don't move! Don't move!...Whatever you do, don't come after me!
... I am the rat-catcher!...Let me pass, with my rats!..."

And the head of fire disappeared, vanished in the darkness,
while the passage in front of it lit up, as the result of the change
which the rat-catcher had made in his dark lantern. Before, so as not
to scare the rats in front of him, he had turned his dark lantern
on himself, lighting up his own head; now, to hasten their flight,
he lit the dark space in front of him. And he jumped along,
dragging with him the waves of scratching rats, all the thousand sounds.

Raoul and the Persian breathed again, though still trembling.

"I ought to have remembered that Erik talked to me about the rat-catcher,"
said the Persian. "But he never told me that he looked like that...
and it's funny that I should never have met him before....
Of course, Erik never comes to this part!"

{two page color illustration}

"Are we very far from the lake, sir?" asked Raoul. "When shall we
get there?...Take me to the lake, oh, take me to the lake!...
When we are at the lake, we will call out!...Christine will
hear us!...And HE will hear us, too!...And, as you know him,
we shall talk to him!" "Baby!" said the Persian. "We shall never
enter the house on the lake by the lake!...I myself have never
landed on the other bank...the bank on which the house stands.
...You have to cross the lake first...and it is well guarded!
...I fear that more than one of those men--old scene-shifters,
old door-shutters--who have never been seen again were simply tempted
to cross the lake....It is terrible....I myself would have
been nearly killed there...if the monster had not recognized me
in time!...One piece of advice, sir; never go near the lake.
...And, above all, shut your ears if you hear the voice singing
under the water, the siren's voice!"

"But then, what are we here for?" asked Raoul, in a transport of fever,
impatience and rage. "If you can do nothing for Christine, at least
let me die for her!" The Persian tried to calm the young man.

"We have only one means of saving Christine Daae, believe me,
which is to enter the house unperceived by the monster."

"And is there any hope of that, sir?"

"Ah, if I had not that hope, I would not have come to fetch you!"

"And how can one enter the house on the lake without crossing
the lake?"

"From the third cellar, from which we were so unluckily driven away.
We will go back there now....I will tell you," said the Persian,
with a sudden change in his voice, "I will tell you the exact
place, sir: it is between a set piece and a discarded scene from
ROI DE LAHORE, exactly at the spot where Joseph Buquet died.
... Come, sir, take courage and follow me! And hold your hand
at the level of your eyes!...But where are we?"

The Persian lit his lamp again and flung its rays down two enormous
corridors that crossed each other at right angles.

"We must be," he said, "in the part used more particularly
for the waterworks. I see no fire coming from the furnaces."

He went in front of Raoul, seeking his road, stopping abruptly
when he was afraid of meeting some waterman. Then they had to
protect themselves against the glow of a sort of underground forge,
which the men were extinguishing, and at which Raoul recognized
the demons whom Christine had seen at the time of her first captivity.

In this way, they gradually arrived beneath the huge cellars below
the stage. They must at this time have been at the very bottom
of the "tub" and at an extremely great depth, when we remember
that the earth was dug out at fifty feet below the water that lay
under the whole of that part of Paris.[6]

[6] All the water had to be exhausted, in the building of the Opera.
To give an idea of the amount of water that was pumped up, I can
tell the reader that it represented the area of the courtyard
of the Louvre and a height half as deep again as the towers of
Notre Dame. And nevertheless the engineers had to leave a lake.

The Persian touched a partition-wall and said:

"If I am not mistaken, this is a wall that might easily belong
to the house on the lake."

He was striking a partition-wall of the "tub," and perhaps it would be
as well for the reader to know how the bottom and the partition-walls
of the tub were built. In order to prevent the water surrounding
the building-operations from remaining in immediate contact
with the walls supporting the whole of the theatrical machinery,
the architect was obliged to build a double case in every direction.
The work of constructing this double case took a whole year.
It was the wall of the first inner case that the Persian struck
when speaking to Raoul of the house on the lake. To any one
understanding the architecture of the edifice, the Persian's
action would seem to indicate that Erik's mysterious house had
been built in the double case, formed of a thick wall constructed
as an embankment or dam, then of a brick wall, a tremendous
layer of cement and another wall several yards in thickness.

At the Persian's words, Raoul flung himself against the wall
and listened eagerly. But he heard nothing...nothing
... except distant steps sounding on the floor of the upper
portions of the theater.

The Persian darkened his lantern again.

"Look out!" he said. "Keep your hand up! And silence! For we
shall try another way of getting in."

And he led him to the little staircase by which they had come
down lately.

They went up, stopping at each step, peering into the darkness
and the silence, till they came to the third cellar. Here the
Persian motioned to Raoul to go on his knees; and, in this way,
crawling on both knees and one hand--for the other hand was held
in the position indicated--they reached the end wall.

Against this wall stood a large discarded scene from the ROI DE LAHORE.
Close to this scene was a set piece. Between the scene and the set
piece there was just room for a body...for a body which one day
was found hanging there. The body of Joseph Buquet.

The Persian, still kneeling, stopped and listened. For a moment,
he seemed to hesitate and looked at Raoul; then he turned his
eyes upward, toward the second cellar, which sent down the faint
glimmer of a lantern, through a cranny between two boards.
This glimmer seemed to trouble the Persian.

At last, he tossed his head and made up his mind to act. He slipped
between the set piece and the scene from the ROI DE LAHORE, with Raoul
close upon his heels. With his free hand, the Persian felt the wall.
Raoul saw him bear heavily upon the wall, just as he had pressed
against the wall in Christine's dressing-room. Then a stone gave way,
leaving a hole in the wall.

This time, the Persian took his pistol from his pocket and made
a sign to Raoul to do as he did. He cocked the pistol.

And, resolutely, still on his knees, he wiggled through the hole
in the wall. Raoul, who had wished to pass first, had to be content
to follow him.

The hole was very narrow. The Persian stopped almost at once.
Raoul heard him feeling the stones around him. Then the Persian took
out his dark lantern again, stooped forward, examined something beneath
him and immediately extinguished his lantern. Raoul heard him say,
in a whisper:

"We shall have to drop a few yards, without making a noise;
take off your boots."

The Persian handed his own shoes to Raoul.

"Put them outside the wall," he said. "We shall find them there
when we leave."[7]

[7] These two pairs of boots, which were placed, according to the Persian's
papers, just between the set piece and the scene from the ROI DE LAHORE,
on the spot where Joseph Buquet was found hanging, were never discovered.
They must have been taken by some stage-carpenter or "door-shutter."

He crawled a little farther on his knees, then turned right round
and said:

"I am going to hang by my hands from the edge of the stone and
let myself drop INTO HIS HOUSE. You must do exactly the same.
Do not be afraid. I will catch you in my arms."

Raoul soon heard a dull sound, evidently produced by the fall
of the Persian, and then dropped down.

He felt himself clasped in the Persian's arms.

"Hush!" said the Persian.

And they stood motionless, listening.

The darkness was thick around them, the silence heavy and terrible.

Then the Persian began to make play with the dark lantern again,
turning the rays over their heads, looking for the hole through
which they had come, and failing to find it:

"Oh!" he said. "The stone has closed of itself!"

And the light of the lantern swept down the wall and over the floor.

The Persian stooped and picked up something, a sort of cord,
which he examined for a second and flung away with horror.

"The Punjab lasso!" he muttered.

"What is it?" asked Raoul.

The Persian shivered. "It might very well be the rope by which
the man was hanged, and which was looked for so long."

And, suddenly seized with fresh anxiety, he moved the little red disk
of his lantern over the walls. In this way, he lit up a curious thing:
the trunk of a tree, which seemed still quite alive, with its leaves;
and the branches of that tree ran right up the walls and disappeared
in the ceiling.

Because of the smallness of the luminous disk, it was difficult
at first to make out the appearance of things: they saw a corner
of a branch...and a leaf...and another leaf...and,
next to it, nothing at all, nothing but the ray of light
that seemed to reflect itself....Raoul passed his hand over
that nothing, over that reflection.

"Hullo!" he said. "The wall is a looking-glass!"

"Yes, a looking-glass!" said the Persian, in a tone of deep emotion.
And, passing the hand that held the pistol over his moist forehead,
he added, "We have dropped into the torture-chamber!"

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