look at the sun. I have never seen him by daylight...it must be awful!...Oh, the first time I saw him!...I thought that he was going to die.'

`Why?' asked Raoul, really frightened at the aspect which this strange confidence was taking.

`Because I had seen him!'

This time, Raoul and Christine turned round at the same time:

`There is some one in pain,' said Raoul. `Perhaps some one has been hurt. Did you hear?'

`I can't say,' Christine confessed. `Even when he is not there, my ears are full of his sighs. Still, if you heard...'

They stood up and looked around them. They were quite alone on the immense lead roof. They sat down again and Raoul said:

`Tell me how you saw him first.'

`I had heard him for three months without seeing him. The first time I heard it, I thought, as you did, that that adorable voice was singing in another room. I went out and looked everywhere; but, as you know, Raoul, my dressing-room is very much by itself; and I could not find the voice outside my room, whereas it went on steadily inside. And it not only sang, but it spoke to me and answered my questions, like a real man's voice, with this difference, that it was as beautiful as the voice of an angel. I had never got the Angel of Music whom my poor father had promised to send me as soon as he was dead. I really think that Mamma Valérius was a little bit to blame. I told her about it; and she at once said, `It must be the Angel; at any rate, you can do no harm by asking him.' I did so; and the man's voice replied that, yes, it was the Angel's voice, the voice which I was expecting and which my father had promised me. From that time onward, the voice and I became great friends. It asked leave to give me lessons every day. I agreed and never failed to keep the appointment which it gave me in my dressing-room. You have no idea, though you have heard the voice, of what those lessons were like.'

`No, I have no idea,' said Raoul. `What was your accompaniment?'

`We were accompanied by a music which I do not know: it was behind the wall and wonderfully accurate. The voice seemed to understand mine exactly, to know precisely where my father had left off teaching me. In a few weeks' time, I hardly knew myself when I sang. I was even frightened. I seemed to dread a sort of witchcraft behind it; but Mamma Valérius reassured me. She said that she knew I was much too simple a girl to give the devil a hold on me....My progress, by the voice's own order, was kept a secret between the voice, Mamma Valérius and myself. It was a curious thing, but, outside the dressing-room, I sang with my ordinary, every-day voice and nobody noticed anything. I did all that the voice asked. It said, `Wait and see: we shall astonish Paris!' And I waited and lived on in a sort of ecstatic dream. It was then that I saw you for the first time one evening, in the house. I was so glad that I never thought of concealing my delight when I reached my dressing-room. Unfortunately, the voice was there before me and soon noticed, by my air, that something had happened. It asked what was the matter and I saw no reason for keeping our story secret or concealing the place which you filled in my heart. Then the voice was silent. I called to it, but it did not reply; I begged and entreated, but in vain. I was terrified lest it had gone for good. I wish to Heaven it had, dear!...That night, I went home in a desperate condition. I told Mamma Valérius, who said, `Why, of course, the voice is jealous!' And that, dear, first revealed to me that I loved you.'

Christine stopped and laid her head on Raoul's shoulder. They sat like that for a moment, in silence, and they did not see, did not perceive the movement, at a few steps from them, of the creeping shadow of two great black wings, a shadow that came along the roof so near, so near them that it could have stifled them by closing over them.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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