Forget the Name of the Man's Voice

The day after Christine had vanished before his eyes in a sort of dazzlement that still made him doubt the evidence of his senses, M. le Vicomte de Chagny called to inquire at Mamma Valérius'. He came upon a charming picture. Christine herself was seated by the bedside of the old lady, who was sitting up against the pillows, knitting. The pink and white had returned to the young girl's cheeks. The dark rings round her eyes had disappeared. Raoul no longer recognized the tragic face of the day before. If the veil of melancholy over those adorable features had not still appeared to the young man as the last trace of the weird drama in whose toils that mysterious child was struggling, he could have believed that Christine was not its heroine at all.

She rose, without showing any emotion, and offered him her hand. But Raoul's stupefaction was so great that he stood there dumfounded, without a gesture, without a word.

`Well, M. de Chagny,' exclaimed Mamma Valérius, `don't you know our Christine? Her good genius has sent her back to us!'

`Mamma!' the girl broke in promptly, while a deep blush mantled to her eyes. `I thought, mamma, that there was to be no more question of that!...You know there is no such thing as the Angel of Music!'

`But, child, he gave you lessons for three months!'

`Mamma, I have promised to explain everything to you one of these days; and I hope to do so but you have promised me, until that day, to be silent and to ask me no more questions whatever!'

`Provided that you promised never to leave me again! But have you promised that, Christine?'

`Mamma, all this can not interest M. de Chagny.'

`On the contrary, mademoiselle,' said the young man, in a voice which he tried to make firm and brave, but which still trembled, `anything that concerns you interests me to an extent which perhaps you will one day understand. I do not deny that my surprise equals my pleasure at finding you with your adopted mother and that, after what happened between us yesterday, after what you said and what I was able to guess, I hardly expected to see you here so soon. I should be the first to delight at your return, if you were not so bent on preserving a secrecy that may be fatal to you...and I have been your friend too long not to be alarmed, with Mme. Valérius, at a disastrous adventure which will remain dangerous so long as we have not unraveled its threads and of which you will certainly end by being the victim, Christine.'

At these words, Mamma Valérius tossed about in her bed.

`What does this mean?' she cried. `Is Christine in danger?'

`Yes, madame,' said Raoul courageously, notwithstanding the signs which Christine made to him.

`My God!' exclaimed the good, simple old woman, gasping for breath. `You must tell me everything, Christine! Why did you try to reassure me? And what danger is it, M. de Chagny?'

`An impostor is abusing her good faith.'

`Is the Angel of Music an impostor?'

`She told you herself that there is no Angel of Music.'

`But then what is it, in Heaven's name? You will be the death of me!'

`There is a terrible mystery around us, madame, around you, around Christine, a mystery much more to be feared than any number of ghosts or genii!'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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