`Wretched man!' I cried. `Have you forgotten the rosy hours of Mazenderan?'
`Yes,' he replied, in a sadder tone, `I prefer to forget them. I used to make the little sultana laugh, though!'
`All that belongs to the past,' I declared; `but there is the present ... and you are responsible to me for the present, because, if I had wished, there would have been none at all for you. Remember that, Erik: I saved your life!'
And I took advantage of the turn of conversation to speak to him of something that had long been on my mind:
`Erik,' I asked, `Erik, swear that...'
`What?' he retorted. `You know I never keep my oaths. Oaths are made to catch gulls with.'
`Tell me...you can tell me, at any rate....'
`Well, the chandelier...the chandelier, Erik?...'
`What about the chandelier?'
`You know what I mean.'
`Oh,' he sniggered, `I don't mind telling you about the chandelier! ...it wasn't I!...The chandelier was very old and worn.'
When Erik laughed, he was more terrible than ever. He jumped into the boat, chuckling so horribly that I could not help trembling.
`Very old and worn, my dear daroga!2 Very old and worn, the chandelier!...It fell of itself!...It came down with a smash!...And now, daroga, take my advice and go and dry yourself, or you'll catch a cold in the head!... And never get into my boat again....And, whatever you do, don't try to enter my house: I'm not always there...daroga! And I should be sorry to have to dedicate my Requiem Mass to you!'
So saying, swinging to and fro, like a monkey, and still chuckling, he pushed off and soon disappeared in the darkness of the lake.
From that day, I gave up all thought of penetrating into his house by the lake. That entrance was obviously too well guarded, especially since he had learned that I knew about it. But I felt that there must be another entrance, for I had often seen Erik disappear in the third cellar, when I was watching him, though I could not imagine how.
Ever since I had discovered Erik installed in the Opera, I lived in a perpetual terror of his horrible fancies, not in so far as I was concerned, but I dreaded everything for others.3 And whenever some accident, some fatal event happened, I always thought to myself, `I should not be surprised if that were Erik,' even as others used to say, `It's the ghost!' How often have I not heard people utter that phrase with a smile! Poor devils! If they had known that the ghost existed in the flesh, I swear they would not have laughed!
Although Erik announced to me very solemnly that he had changed and that he had become the most virtuous of men since he was loved for himself - a sentence that, at first, perplexed me most terribly - I could not help shuddering when I thought of the monster. His horrible, unparalleled and repulsive ugliness put him without the pale of humanity; and it often seemed to me that, for this reason, he no longer believed that he had any duty toward the human race. The way in which he spoke of his love
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