The Phantom of the Opera (Chapter 4, page 1 of 8)


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Chapter 4

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

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

The first few days which the partners spent at the Opera were given
over to the delight of finding themselves the head of so magnificent an
enterprise; and they had forgotten all about that curious, fantastic
story of the ghost, when an incident occurred that proved to them that
the joke--if joke it were--was not over. M. Firmin Richard reached his
office that morning at eleven o'clock. His secretary, M. Remy, showed
him half a dozen letters which he had not opened because they were
marked "private." One of the letters had at once attracted Richard's
attention not only because the envelope was addressed in red ink, but
because he seemed to have seen the writing before. He soon remembered
that it was the red handwriting in which the memorandum-book had been
so curiously completed. He recognized the clumsy childish hand. He
opened the letter and read: DEAR MR. MANAGER: I am sorry to have to trouble you at a time when you must be so very
busy, renewing important engagements, signing fresh ones and generally
displaying your excellent taste. I know what you have done for
Carlotta, Sorelli and little Jammes and for a few others whose
admirable qualities of talent or genius you have suspected.

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

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