The Phantom of the Opera (Chapter 8, page 1 of 5)


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Chapter 8

That tragic evening was bad for everybody. Carlotta fell ill. As for
Christine Daae, she disappeared after the performance. A fortnight
elapsed during which she was seen neither at the Opera nor outside.

Raoul, of course, was the first to be astonished at the prima donna's
absence. He wrote to her at Mme. Valerius' flat and received no reply.
His grief increased and he ended by being seriously alarmed at never
seeing her name on the program. FAUST was played without her.

One afternoon he went to the managers' office to ask the reason of
Christine's disappearance. He found them both looking extremely
worried. Their own friends did not recognize them: they had lost all
their gaiety and spirits. They were seen crossing the stage with
hanging heads, care-worn brows, pale cheeks, as though pursued by some
abominable thought or a prey to some persistent sport of fate.

The fall of the chandelier had involved them in no little
responsibility; but it was difficult to make them speak about it. The
inquest had ended in a verdict of accidental death, caused by the wear
and tear of the chains by which the chandelier was hung from the
ceiling; but it was the duty of both the old and the new managers to
have discovered this wear and tear and to have remedied it in time.
And I feel bound to say that MM. Richard and Moncharmin at this time
appeared so changed, so absent-minded, so mysterious, so
incomprehensible that many of the subscribers thought that some event
even more horrible than the fall of the chandelier must have affected
their state of mind.

In their daily intercourse, they showed themselves very impatient,
except with Mme. Giry, who had been reinstated in her functions. And
their reception of the Vicomte de Chagny, when he came to ask about
Christine, was anything but cordial. They merely told him that she was
taking a holiday. He asked how long the holiday was for, and they
replied curtly that it was for an unlimited period, as Mlle. Daae had
requested leave of absence for reasons of health.

"Then she is ill!" he cried. "What is the matter with her?"

"We don't know."

"Didn't you send the doctor of the Opera to see her?"

"No, she did not ask for him; and, as we trust her, we took her word."

Raoul left the building a prey to the gloomiest thoughts. He resolved,
come what might, to go and inquire of Mamma Valerius. He remembered
the strong phrases in Christine's letter, forbidding him to make any
attempt to see her. But what he had seen at Perros, what he had heard
behind the dressing-room door, his conversation with Christine at the
edge of the moor made him suspect some machination which, devilish
though it might be, was none the less human. The girl's highly strung
imagination, her affectionate and credulous mind, the primitive
education which had surrounded her childhood with a circle of legends,
the constant brooding over her dead father and, above all, the state of
sublime ecstasy into which music threw her from the moment that this
art was made manifest to her in certain exceptional conditions, as in
the churchyard at Perros; all this seemed to him to constitute a moral
ground only too favorable for the malevolent designs of some mysterious
and unscrupulous person. Of whom was Christine Daae the victim? This
was the very reasonable question which Raoul put to himself as he
hurried off to Mamma Valerius.

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