The next time fell on the same day that beheld the disappearance of Christine Daaé. In the morning, a note from the ghost reminded them that the money was due. It read:

Do just as you did last time. It went very well. Put the twenty thousand in the envelope and hand it to our excellent Mme. Giry.
And the note was accompanied by the usual envelope. They had only to insert the notes.

This was done about half an hour before the curtain rose on the first act of Faust. Richard showed the envelope to Moncharmin. Then he counted the twenty thousand-franc notes in front of him and put the notes into the envelope, but without closing it.

`And now,' he said, `let's have Mother Giry in.'

The old woman was sent for. She entered with a sweeping courtesy. She still wore her black taffeta dress, the color of which was rapidly turning to rust and lilac, to say nothing of the dingy bonnet. She seemed in a good temper. She at once said:

`Good evening, gentlemen! It's for the envelope, I suppose?'

`Yes, Mme. Giry,' said Richard, most amiably. `For the envelope ... and something else besides.'

`At your service, M. Richard, at your service. And what is the something else, please?'

`First of all, Mme. Giry, I have a little question to put to you.'

`By all means, M. Richard: Mme. Giry is here to answer you.'

`Are you still on good terms with the ghost?'

`Couldn't be better, sir; couldn't be better.'

`Ah, we are delighted....Look here, Mme. Giry,' said Richard, in the tone of making an important confidence. `We may just as well tell you, among're no fool!'

`Why, sir,' exclaimed the box-keeper, stopping the pleasant nodding of the black feathers in her dingy bonnet, `I assure you no one has ever doubted that!'

`We are quite agreed and we shall soon understand one another. The story of the ghost is all humbug, isn't it?...Well, still between ourselves, has lasted long enough.'

Mme. Giry looked at the managers as though they were talking Chinese. She walked up to Richard's table and asked, rather anxiously:

`What do you mean? I don't understand.'

`Oh, you, understand quite well. In any case, you've got to understand....And, first of all, tell us his name.'

`Whose name?'

`The name of the man whose accomplice you are, Mme. Giry!'

`I am the ghost's accomplice? I?...His accomplice in what, pray?'

`You do all he wants.'

`Oh! He's not very troublesome, you know.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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