The Phantom of the Opera (Chapter 9, page 2 of 7)


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Chapter 9

Raoul leaned against a door-post and waited. He did not wait long. A
black domino passed and gave a quick squeeze to the tips of his
fingers. He understood that it was she and followed her: "Is that you, Christine?" he asked, between his teeth.

The black domino turned round promptly and raised her finger to her
lips, no doubt to warn him not to mention her name again. Raoul
continued to follow her in silence.

He was afraid of losing her, after meeting her again in such strange
circumstances. His grudge against her was gone. He no longer doubted
that she had "nothing to reproach herself with," however peculiar and
inexplicable her conduct might seem. He was ready to make any display
of clemency, forgiveness or cowardice. He was in love. And, no doubt,
he would soon receive a very natural explanation of her curious absence.

The black domino turned back from time to time to see if the white
domino was still following.

As Raoul once more passed through the great crush-room, this time in
the wake of his guide, he could not help noticing a group crowding
round a person whose disguise, eccentric air and gruesome appearance
were causing a sensation. It was a man dressed all in scarlet, with a
huge hat and feathers on the top of a wonderful death's head. From his
shoulders hung an immense red-velvet cloak, which trailed along the
floor like a king's train; and on this cloak was embroidered, in gold
letters, which every one read and repeated aloud, "Don't touch me! I
am Red Death stalking abroad!"

Then one, greatly daring, did try to touch him ... but a skeleton hand
shot out of a crimson sleeve and violently seized the rash one's wrist;
and he, feeling the clutch of the knucklebones, the furious grasp of
Death, uttered a cry of pain and terror. When Red Death released him
at last, he ran away like a very madman, pursued by the jeers of the
bystanders.

It was at this moment that Raoul passed in front of the funereal
masquerader, who had just happened to turn in his direction. And he
nearly exclaimed: "The death's head of Perros-Guirec!"

He had recognized him! ... He wanted to dart forward, forgetting
Christine; but the black domino, who also seemed a prey to some strange
excitement, caught him by the arm and dragged him from the crush-room,
far from the mad crowd through which Red Death was stalking...

The black domino kept on turning back and, apparently, on two occasions
saw something that startled her, for she hurried her pace and Raoul's
as though they were being pursued.

They went up two floors. Here, the stairs and corridors were almost
deserted. The black domino opened the door of a private box and
beckoned to the white domino to follow her. Then Christine, whom he
recognized by the sound of her voice, closed the door behind them and
warned him, in a whisper, to remain at the back of the box and on no
account to show himself. Raoul took off his mask. Christine kept hers
on. And, when Raoul was about to ask her to remove it, he was
surprised to see her put her ear to the partition and listen eagerly
for a sound outside. Then she opened the door ajar, looked out into
the corridor and, in a low voice, said: "He must have gone up higher." Suddenly she exclaimed: "He is coming
down again!"

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