A Master-stroke of the Trap-door Lover

Raoul and Christine ran, eager to escape from the roof and the blazing eyes that showed only in the dark; and they did not stop before they came to the eighth floor on the way down.

There was no performance at the Opera that night and the passages were empty. Suddenly, a queer- looking form stood before them and blocked the road:

`No, not this way!'

And the form pointed to another passage by which they were to reach the wings. Raoul wanted to stop and ask for an explanation. But the form, which wore a sort of long frock-coat and a pointed cap, said:

`Quick! Go away quickly!'

Christine was already dragging Raoul, compelling him to start running again.

`But who is he? Who is that man?' he asked.

Christine replied: `It's the Persian.'

`What's he doing here?'

`Nobody knows. He is always in the Opera.'

`You are making me run away, for the first time in my life. If we really saw Erik, what I ought to have done was to nail him to Apollo's lyre, just as we nail the owls to the walls of our Breton farms; and there would have been no more question of him.'

`My dear Raoul, you would first have had to climb up to Apollo's lyre: that is no easy matter.'

`The blazing eyes were there!'

`Oh, you are getting like me now, seeing him everywhere! What I took for blazing eyes was probably a couple of stars shining through the strings of the lyre.'

And Christine went down another floor, with Raoul following her.

`As you have quite made up your mind to go, Christine, I assure you it would be better to go at once. Why wait for to-morrow? He may have heard us to-night.'

`No, no, he is working, I tell you, at his Don Juan Triumphant and not thinking of us.'

`You're so sure of that you keep on looking behind you!'

`Come to my dressing-room.'

`Hadn't we better meet outside the Opera?'

`Never, till we go away for good! It would bring us bad luck, if I did not keep my word. I promised him to see you only here.'

`It's a good thing for me that he allowed you even that. Do you know,' said Raoul bitterly, `that it was very plucky of you to let us play at being engaged?'

`Why, my dear, he knows all about it! He said, `I trust you, Christine. M. de Chagny is in love with you and is going abroad. Before he goes, I want him to be as happy as I am.' Are people so unhappy when they love?'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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