The Phantom of the Opera
eBook - ePub

The Phantom of the Opera

Gaston Leroux

  1. 235 pages
  2. English
  3. ePUB (mobile friendly)
  4. Available on iOS & Android
eBook - ePub

The Phantom of the Opera

Gaston Leroux

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About This Book

During Christine's childhood, which is described retrospectively in the early chapters of the book, her father tells her many stories featuring an "Angel of Music, " who, like a muse, is the personification of musical inspiration. On his deathbed, Christine's father tells her that from Heaven, he will send the Angel of Music to her. Christine is eventually given a position in the chorus at the Paris Opera House. Not long after she arrives there, she begins hearing a beautiful, unearthly voice which sings to her and speaks to her. She believes this must be the Angel of Music and asks him if he is. The Voice agrees and offers to teach her "a little bit of heaven's music."

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Faust and What Followed

On the Saturday morning, on reaching their office, the joint managers found a letter from O. G. worded in these terms:
So it is to be war between us?
If you still care for peace, here is my ultimatum. It consists of the four following conditions:
1. You must give me back my private box; and I wish it to be at my free disposal from henceforward.
2. The part of Margarita shall be sung this evening by Christine Daae. Never mind about Carlotta; she will be ill.
3. I absolutely insist upon the good and loyal services of Mme. Giry, my box-keeper, whom you will reinstate in her functions forthwith.
4. Let me know by a letter handed to Mme. Giry, who will see that it reaches me, that you accept, as your predecessors did, the conditions in my memorandum-book relating to my monthly allowance. I will inform you later how you are to pay it to me.
If you refuse, you will give FAUST to-night in a house with a curse upon it.
Take my advice and be warned in time. O. G.
“Look here, I’m getting sick of him, sick of him!” shouted Richard, bringing his fists down on his office-table.
Just then, Mercier, the acting-manager, entered.
“Lachenel would like to see one of you gentlemen,” he said. “He says that his business is urgent and he seems quite upset.”
“Who’s Lachenel?” asked Richard.
“He’s your stud-groom.”
“What do you mean? My stud-groom?”
“Yes, sir,” explained Mercier, “there are several grooms at the Opera and M. Lachenel is at the head of them.”
“And what does this groom do?”
“He has the chief management of the stable.”
“What stable?”
“Why, yours, sir, the stable of the Opera.”
“Is there a stable at the Opera? Upon my word, I didn’t know. Where is it?”
“In the cellars, on the Rotunda side. It’s a very important department; we have twelve horses.”
“Twelve horses! And what for, in Heaven’s name?”
“Why, we want trained horses for the processions in the Juive, The Profeta and so on; horses ‘used to the boards.’ It is the grooms’ business to teach them. M. Lachenel is very clever at it. He used to manage Franconi’s stables.”
“Very well ... but what does he want?”
“I don’t know; I never saw him in such a state.”
“He can come in.”
M. Lachenel came in, carrying a riding-whip, with which he struck his right boot in an irritable manner.
“Good morning, M. Lachenel,” said Richard, somewhat impressed. “To what do we owe the honor of your visit?”
“Mr. Manager, I have come to ask you to get rid of the whole stable.”
“What, you want to get rid of our horses?”
“I’m not talking of the horses, but of the stablemen.”
“How many stablemen have you, M. Lachenel?”
“Six stablemen! That’s at least two too many.”
“These are ‘places,’” Mercier interposed, “created and forced upon us by the under-secretary for fine arts. They are filled by protegees of the government and, if I may venture to ...”
“I don’t care a hang for the government!” roared Richard. “We don’t need more than four stablemen for twelve horses.”
“Eleven,” said the head riding-master, correcting him.
“Twelve,” repeated Richard.
“Eleven,” repeated Lachenel.
“Oh, the acting-manager told me that you had twelve horses!”
“I did have twelve, but I have only eleven since Cesar was stolen.”
And M. Lachenel gave himself a great smack on the boot with his whip.
“Has Cesar been stolen?” cried the acting-manager. “Cesar, the white horse in the Profeta?”
“There are not two Cesars,” said the stud-groom dryly. “I was ten years at Franconi’s and I have seen plenty of horses in my time. Well, there are not two Cesars. And he’s been stolen.”
“I don’t know. Nobody knows. That’s why I have come to ask you to sack the whole stable.”
“What do your stablemen say?”
“All sorts of nonsense. Some of them accuse the supers. Others pretend that it’s the acting-manager’s doorkeeper ...”
“My doorkeeper? I’ll answer for him as I would for myself!” protested Mercier.
“But, after all, M. Lachenel,” cried Richard, “you must have some idea.”
“Yes, I have,” M. Lachenel declared. “I have an idea and I’ll tell you what it is. There’s no doubt about it in my mind.” He walked up to the two managers and whispered. “It’s the ghost who did the trick!”
Richard gave a jump.
“What, you too! You too!”
“How do you mean, I too? Isn’t it natural, after what I saw?”
“What did you see?”
“I saw, as clearly as I now see you, a black shadow riding a white horse that was as like Cesar as two peas!”
“And did you run after them?”
“I did and I shouted, but they were too fast for me and disappeared in the darkness of the underground gallery.”
M. Richard rose. “That will do, M. Lachenel. You can go ... We will lodge a complaint against THE GHOST.”
“And sack my stable?”
“Oh, of course! Good morning.”
M. Lachenel bowed and withdrew. Richard foamed at the mouth.
“Settle that idiot’s account at once, please.”
“He is a friend of the government representative’s!” Mercier ventured to say.
“And he takes his vermouth at Tortoni’s with Lagrene, Scholl and Pertuiset, the lion-hunter,” added Moncharmin. “We shall have the whole press against us! He’ll tell the story of the ghost; and everybody will be laughing at our expense! We may as well be dead as ridiculous!”
“All right, say no more about it.”
At that moment the door opened. It must have been deserted by its usual Cerberus, for Mme. Giry entered without ceremony, holding a letter in her hand, and said hurriedly:
“I beg your pardon, excuse me, gentlemen, but I had a letter this morning from the Opera ghost. He told me to come to you, that you had something to ...”
She did not complete the sentence. She saw Firmin Richard’s face; and it was a terrible sight. He seemed ready to burst. He said nothing, he could not speak. But suddenly he acted. First, his left arm seized upon the quaint person of Mme. Giry and made her describe so unexpected a semicircle that she uttered a despairing cry. Next, his right foot imprinted its sole on the black taffeta of a skirt which certainly had never before undergone a similar outrage in a similar place. The thing happened so quickly that Mme. Giry, when in the passage, was still quite bewildered and seemed not to understand. But, suddenly, she understood; and the Opera rang with her indignant yells, her violent protests and threats.
About the same time, Carlotta, who had a small house of her own in the Rue du Faubourg St. Honore, rang for her maid, who brought her letters to her bed. Among them was an anonymous missive, written in red ink, in a hesitating, clumsy hand, which ran:
If you appear to-night, you must be prepared for a great misfortune at the moment when you open your mouth to sing ... a misfortune worse than death.
The letter took away Carlotta’s appetite for breakfast. She pushed back her chocolate, sat up in bed and thought hard. It was not the first letter of the kind which she had received, but she never had one couched in such threatening terms.
She thought herself, at that time, the victim of a thousand jealous attempts and went about saying that she had a secret enemy who had sworn to ruin her. She pretended that a wicked plot was being hatched against her, a cabal which would come to a head one of those days; but she added that she was not the woman to be intimidated.
The truth is that, if there was a cabal, it was led by Carlotta herself against poor Christine, who had no suspicion of it. Carlotta had never forgiven Christine for the triumph which she had achieved when taking her place at a moment’s notice. When Carlotta heard of the astounding reception bestowed upon her understudy, she was at once cured of an incipient attack of bronchitis and a bad fit of sulking against the management and lost the slightest inclination to shirk her duties. From that time, she worked with all her might to “smother” her rival, enlisting the services of influential friends to persuade the managers not to give Christine an opportunity for a fresh triumph. Certain newspapers which had begun to extol the talent of Christine now interested themselves only in the fame of Carlotta. Lastly, in the theater itself, the celebrated, but heartless and soulless diva made the most scandalous remarks about Christine and tried to cause her endless minor unpleasantnesses.
When Carlotta had finished thinking over the threat contained in the strange letter, she got up.
“We shall see,” she said, adding a few oaths in her native Spanish with a very determined air.
The first thing she saw, when looking out of her window, was a hearse. She was very superstitious; and the hearse and the letter convinced her that she was running the most serious dangers that evening. She collected all her supporters, told them that she was threatened at that evening’s performance with a plot organized by Christine Daae and declared that they must play a trick upon that chit by filling the house with her, Carlotta’s, admirers. She had no lack of them, had she? She relied upon them to hold themselves prepared for any eventuality and to silence the adversaries, if, as she feared, they created a disturbance.
M. Richard’s private secretary called to ask after the diva’s health and returned with the assurance that she was perfectly well and that, “were she dying,” she would sing the part of Margarita that evening. The secretary urged her, in his chief’s name, to commit no imprudence, to stay at home all day and to be careful of drafts; and Carlotta could not help, after he had gone, comparing this unusual and unexpected advice with the threats contained in the letter.
It was five o’clock when the post brought a second anonymous letter in the same hand as the first. It was short and said simply:
You have a bad cold. If you are wise, you will see that it is madness to try to sing to-night.
Carlotta sneered, shrugged her handsome shoulders and sang two or three notes to reassure herself.
Her friends were faithful to their promise. They were all at the Opera that night, but looked round in vain for the fierce conspirators whom they were instructed to suppress. The only unusual thing was the presence of M. Richard and M. Moncharmin in Box Five. Carlotta’s friends thought that, perhaps, the managers had wind, on their side, of the proposed disturbance and that they had determined to be in the house, so as to stop it then and there; but this was unjustifiable supposition, as the reader knows. M. Richard and M. Moncharmin were thinking of nothing but their ghost.
“Vain! In vain do I call, through my vigil weary, On creation and its Lord! Never reply will break the silence dreary! No sign! No single word!”
The famous baritone, Carolus Fonta, had hardly finished Doctor Faust’s first appeal to the powers of darkness, when M. Firmin Richard, who was sitt...

Table of contents

  1. Cover
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright Page
  4. Table of Contents
  5. Prologue
  6. Is it the Ghost?
  7. The New Margarita
  8. The Mysterious Reason
  9. Box Five
  10. The Enchanted Violin
  11. A Visit to Box Five
  12. Faust and What Followed
  13. The Mysterious Brougham
  14. At the Masked Ball
  15. Forget the Name of the Man’s Voice
  16. Above the Trap-Doors
  17. Apollo’s Lyre
  18. A Master-Stroke of the Trap-Door Lover
  19. The Singular Attitude of a Safety-Pin
  20. Christine! Christine!
  21. Mme. Giry’s Astounding Revelations As to Her Personal Relations with the Opera Ghost
  22. The Safety-Pin Again
  23. The Commissary, The Viscount and the Persian
  24. The Viscount and the Persian
  25. In the Cellars of the Opera
  26. Interesting and Instructive Vicissitudes of a Persian in the Cellars of the Opera
  27. In the Torture Chamber
  28. The Tortures Begin
  29. “Barrels! ... Barrels! ... Any Barrels to Sell?”
  30. The Scorpion or the Grasshopper: Which?
  31. The End of the Ghost’s Love Story
  32. Epilogue
  33. The Paris Opera House