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       Fantôme de l'Opéra. English, p.1
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           Gaston Leroux
Fantôme de lOpéra. English


  The footnotes have been incrementally numbered in [ ] marks, and placedafter the paragraph in which they appear

  The Phantom of the Opera

  by

  Gaston Leroux

  Author of "The Mystery of the Yellow Room" and "The Perfume of the Ladyin Black"

  Contents

  Chapter

  PROLOGUE I IS IT A GHOST? II THE NEW MARGARITA III THE MYSTERIOUS REASON IV BOX FIVE V THE ENCHANTED VIOLIN VI A VISIT TO BOX FIVE VII FAUST AND WHAT FOLLOWED VIII THE MYSTERIOUS BROUGHAM IX AT THE MASKED BALL X FORGET THE NAME OF THE MAN'S VOICE XI ABOVE THE TRAP-DOORS XII APOLLO'S LYRE XIII A MASTER-STROKE OF THE TRAP-DOOR LOVER XIV THE SINGULAR ATTITUDE OF A SAFETY-PIN XV CHRISTINE! CHRISTINE! XVI MME. GIRY'S REVELATIONS XVII THE SAFETY-PIN AGAIN XVIII THE COMMISSARY, THE VISCOUNT AND THE PERSIAN XIX THE VISCOUNT AND THE PERSIAN XX IN THE CELLARS OF THE OPERA XXI INTERESTING VICISSITUDES XXII IN THE TORTURE CHAMBER XXIII THE TORTURES BEGIN XXIV BARRELS! BARRELS! XXV THE SCORPION OR THE GRASSHOPPER: WHICH XXVI THE END OF THE GHOST'S LOVE STORY EPILOGUE

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

  The Phantom of the Opera

  Prologue

  IN WHICH THE AUTHOR OF THIS SINGULAR WORK INFORMS THE READER HOW HEACQUIRED THE CERTAINTY THAT THE OPERA GHOST REALLY EXISTED

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

  When I began to ransack the archives of the National Academy of Music Iwas at once struck by the surprising coincidences between the phenomenaascribed to the "ghost" and the most extraordinary and fantastictragedy that ever excited the Paris upper classes; and I soon conceivedthe idea that this tragedy might reasonably be explained by thephenomena in question. The events do not date more than thirty yearsback; and it would not be difficult to find at the present day, in thefoyer of the ballet, old men of the highest respectability, men uponwhose word one could absolutely rely, who would remember as though theyhappened yesterday the mysterious and dramatic conditions that attendedthe kidnapping of Christine Daae, the disappearance of the Vicomte deChagny and the death of his elder brother, Count Philippe, whose bodywas found on the bank of the lake that exists in the lower cellars ofthe Opera on the Rue-Scribe side. But none of those witnesses haduntil that day thought that there was any reason for connecting themore or less legendary figure of the Opera ghost with that terriblestory.

  The truth was slow to enter my mind, puzzled by an inquiry that atevery moment was complicated by events which, at first sight, might belooked upon as superhuman; and more than once I was within an ace ofabandoning a task in which I was exhausting myself in the hopelesspursuit of a vain image. At last, I received the proof that mypresentiments had not deceived me, and I was rewarded for all myefforts on the day when I acquired the certainty that the Opera ghostwas more than a mere shade.

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

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

  We spent a good part of the evening together and he told me the wholeChagny case as he had understood it at the time. He was bound toconclude in favor of the madness of the viscount and the accidentaldeath of the elder brother, for lack of evidence to the contrary; buthe was nevertheless persuaded that a terrible tragedy had taken placebetween the two brothers in connection with Christine Daae. He couldnot tell me what became of Christine or the viscount. When I mentionedthe ghost, he only laughed. He, too, had been told of the curiousmanifestations that seemed to point to the existence of an abnormalbeing, residing in one of the most mysterious corners of the Opera, andhe knew the story of the envelope; but he had never seen anything in itworthy of his attention as magistrate in charge of the Chagny case, andit was as much as he had done to listen to the evidence of a witnesswho appeared of his own accord and declared that he had often met theghost. This witness was none other than the man whom all Paris calledthe "Persian" and who was well-known to every subscriber to the Opera.The magistrate took him for a visionary.

  I was immensely interested by this story of the Persian. I wanted, ifthere were still time, to find this valuable and eccentric witness. Myluck began to improve and I discovered him in his little flat in theRue de Rivoli, where he had lived ever since and where he died fivemonths after my visit. I was at first inclined to be suspicious; butwhen the Persian had told me, with child-like candor, all that he knewabout the ghost and had handed me the proofs of the ghost'sexistence--including the strange correspondence of Christine Daae--todo as I pleased with, I was no longer able to doubt. No, the ghost wasnot a myth!

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

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

  SIR:

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

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

  Believe me, etc.

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

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

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

  And I should be ungrateful indeed if I omitted, while standing on thethreshold of this dreadful and veracious story, to thank the presentmanagement the Opera, which has so kindly assisted me in all myinquiries, and M. Messager in particular, together with M. Gabion, theacting-manager, and that most amiable of men, the architect intrustedwith the preservation of the building, who did not hesitate to lend methe works of Charles Garnier, although he was almost sure that I wouldnever return them to him. Lastly, I must pay a public tribute to thegenerosity of my friend and former collaborator, M. J. Le Croze, whoallowed me to dip into his splendid theatrical library and to borrowthe rarest editions of books by which he set great store.

  GASTON LEROUX.

 
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