The Scorpion or the Grasshopper: Which

The discovery flung us into a state of alarm that made us forget all our past and present sufferings. We now knew all that the monster meant to convey when he said to Christine Daaé:

`Yes or no! If your answer is no, everybody will be dead and buried!'

Yes, buried under the ruins of the Paris Grand Opera!

The monster had given her until eleven o'clock in the evening. He had chosen his time well. There would be many people, many `members of the human race,' up there, in the resplendent theater. What finer retinue could be expected for his funeral? He would go down to the tomb escorted by the whitest shoulders in the world, decked with the richest jewels.

Eleven o'clock to-morrow evening!

We were all to be blown up in the middle of the performance... if Christine Daaé said no!

Eleven o'clock to-morrow evening!...

And what else could Christine say but no? Would she not prefer to espouse death itself rather than that living corpse? She did not know that on her acceptance or refusal depended the awful fate of many members of the human race!

Eleven o'clock to-morrow evening!

And we dragged ourselves through the darkness, feeling our way to the stone steps, for the light in the trap-door overhead that led to the room of mirrors was now extinguished; and we repeated to ourselves:

`Eleven o'clock to-morrow evening!'

At last, I found the staircase. But, suddenly I drew myself up on the first step, for a terrible thought had come to my mind:

`What is the time?'

Ah, what was the time?...For, after all, eleven o'clock to-morrow evening might be now, might be this very moment! Who could tell us the time? We seemed to have been imprisoned in that hell for days and days...for years...since the beginning of the world. Perhaps we should be blown up then and there! Ah, a sound! A crack! `Did you hear that?...There, in the corner...good heavens!... Like a sound of machinery!...Again!...Oh, for a light!... Perhaps it's the machinery that is to blow everything up!... I tell you, a cracking sound: are you deaf?'

M. de Chagny and I began to yell like madmen. Fear spurred us on. We rushed up the treads of the staircase, stumbling as we went, anything to escape the dark, to return to the mortal light of the room of mirrors!

We found the trap-door still open, but it was now as dark in the room of mirrors as in the cellar which we had left. We dragged ourselves along the floor of the torture-chamber, the floor that separated us from the powder-magazine. What was the time? We shouted, we called: M. de Chagny to Christine, I to Erik. I reminded him that I had saved his life. But no answer, save that of our despair, of our madness:what was the time? We argued, we tried to calculate the time which we had spent there, but we were incapable of reasoning. If only we could see the face of a watch! ... Mine had stopped, but M. de Chagny's was still going ... He told me that he had wound it up before dressing for the Opera.... We had not a match upon us.... And yet we must know.... M. de Chagny broke the glass of his watch and felt the two hands.... He questioned the hands of the watch with his finger-tips, going by the position of the ring of the watch.... Judging by the space between the hands, he thought it might be just eleven o'clock!

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.