The Phantom of the Opera (Chapter 9, page 1 of 7)


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Chapter 9

The envelope was covered with mud and unstamped. It bore the words "To
be handed to M. le Vicomte Raoul de Chagny," with the address in
pencil. It must have been flung out in the hope that a passer-by would
pick up the note and deliver it, which was what happened. The note had
been picked up on the pavement of the Place de l'Opera.

Raoul read it over again with fevered eyes. No more was needed to
revive his hope. The somber picture which he had for a moment imagined
of a Christine forgetting her duty to herself made way for his original
conception of an unfortunate, innocent child, the victim of imprudence
and exaggerated sensibility. To what extent, at this time, was she
really a victim? Whose prisoner was she? Into what whirlpool had she
been dragged? He asked himself these questions with a cruel anguish;
but even this pain seemed endurable beside the frenzy into which he was
thrown at the thought of a lying and deceitful Christine. What had
happened? What influence had she undergone? What monster had carried
her off and by what means? ...

By what means indeed but that of music? He knew Christine's story.
After her father's death, she acquired a distaste of everything in
life, including her art. She went through the CONSERVATOIRE like a
poor soulless singing-machine. And, suddenly, she awoke as though
through the intervention of a god. The Angel of Music appeared upon
the scene! She sang Margarita in FAUST and triumphed! ...

The Angel of Music! ... For three months the Angel of Music had been
giving Christine lessons ... Ah, he was a punctual singing-master! ...
And now he was taking her for drives in the Bois! ...

Raoul's fingers clutched at his flesh, above his jealous heart. In his
inexperience, he now asked himself with terror what game the girl was
playing? Up to what point could an opera-singer make a fool of a
good-natured young man, quite new to love? O misery! ...

Thus did Raoul's thoughts fly from one extreme to the other. He no
longer knew whether to pity Christine or to curse her; and he pitied
and cursed her turn and turn about. At all events, he bought a white
domino.

The hour of the appointment came at last. With his face in a mask
trimmed with long, thick lace, looking like a pierrot in his white
wrap, the viscount thought himself very ridiculous. Men of the world
do not go to the Opera ball in fancy-dress! It was absurd. One
thought, however, consoled the viscount: he would certainly never be
recognized!

This ball was an exceptional affair, given some time before Shrovetide,
in honor of the anniversary of the birth of a famous draftsman; and it
was expected to be much gayer, noisier, more Bohemian than the ordinary
masked ball. Numbers of artists had arranged to go, accompanied by a
whole cohort of models and pupils, who, by midnight, began to create a
tremendous din. Raoul climbed the grand staircase at five minutes to
twelve, did not linger to look at the motley dresses displayed all the
way up the marble steps, one of the richest settings in the world,
allowed no facetious mask to draw him into a war of wits, replied to no
jests and shook off the bold familiarity of a number of couples who had
already become a trifle too gay. Crossing the big crush-room and
escaping from a mad whirl of dancers in which he was caught for a
moment, he at last entered the room mentioned in Christine's letter.
He found it crammed; for this small space was the point where all those
who were going to supper in the Rotunda crossed those who were
returning from taking a glass of champagne. The fun, here, waxed fast
and furious.

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