The Phantom of the Opera (Prologue, page 2 of 4)


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

We spent a good part of the evening together and he told me the whole
Chagny case as he had understood it at the time. He was bound to
conclude in favor of the madness of the viscount and the accidental
death of the elder brother, for lack of evidence to the contrary; but
he was nevertheless persuaded that a terrible tragedy had taken place
between the two brothers in connection with Christine Daae. He could
not tell me what became of Christine or the viscount. When I mentioned
the ghost, he only laughed. He, too, had been told of the curious
manifestations that seemed to point to the existence of an abnormal
being, residing in one of the most mysterious corners of the Opera, and
he knew the story of the envelope; but he had never seen anything in it
worthy of his attention as magistrate in charge of the Chagny case, and
it was as much as he had done to listen to the evidence of a witness
who appeared of his own accord and declared that he had often met the
ghost. This witness was none other than the man whom all Paris called
the "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, if
there were still time, to find this valuable and eccentric witness. My
luck began to improve and I discovered him in his little flat in the
Rue de Rivoli, where he had lived ever since and where he died five
months after my visit. I was at first inclined to be suspicious; but
when the Persian had told me, with child-like candor, all that he knew
about the ghost and had handed me the proofs of the ghost's
existence--including the strange correspondence of Christine Daae--to
do as I pleased with, I was no longer able to doubt. No, the ghost was
not a myth!

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