`Your arguments are convincing, sir, and I am a fool!...Oh, let us make haste! I place myself entirely in your hands!... How should I not believe you, when you are the only one to believe me...when you are the only one not to smile when Erik's name is mentioned?'

And the young man impetuously seized the Persian's hands. They were ice-cold.

`Silence!' said the Persian, stopping and listening to the distant sounds of the theater. `We must not mention that name here. Let us say `he' and `him;' then there will be less danger of attracting his attention.'

`Do you think he is near us?'

`It is quite possible, Sir, if he is not, at this moment, with his victim, in the house on the lake.'

`Ah, so you know that house too?'

`If he is not there, he may be here, in this wall, in this floor, in this ceiling!...Come!'

And the Persian, asking Raoul to deaden the sound of his footsteps, led him down passages which Raoul had never seen before, even at the time when Christine used to take him for walks through that labyrinth.

`If only Darius has come!' said the Persian.

`Who is Darius?'

`Darius? My servant.'

They were now in the center of a real deserted square, an immense apartment ill-lit by a small lamp. The Persian stopped Raoul and, in the softest of whispers, asked:

`What did you say to the commissary?'

`I said that Christine Daaé's abductor was the Angel of Music, alias the Opera ghost, and that the real name was...'

`Hush!...And did he believe you?'


`He attached no importance to what you said?'


`He took you for a bit of a madman?'


`So much the better!' sighed the Persian.

And they continued their road. After going up and down several staircases which Raoul had never seen before, the two men found themselves in front of a door which the Persian opened with a master-key. The Persian and Raoul were both, of course, in dress-clothes; but, whereas Raoul had a tall hat, the Persian wore the astrakhan cap which I have already mentioned. It was an infringement of the rule which insists upon the tall hat behind the scenes; but in France foreigners are allowed every license: the Englishman his traveling-cap, the Persian his cap of astrakhan.

`Sir,' said the Persian, `your tall hat will be in your way: you would do well to leave it in the dressing-room.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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