1) JENNIFER BASSETT - The Phantom of the Opera

1 The dancers.

'Quick! Quick! Close the door! It's him!' Annie Sorelli ran into
the dressing-room, her face white.
One of the girls ran and closed the door, and then they all
turned to Annie Sorelli.
'Who? Where? What's the matter?' they cried.
'It's the ghost!' Annie said. 'In the passage. I saw him. He
came through the wall in front of me! And... and I saw his face!'
Most of the girls were afraid, but one of them, a tall girl with
black hair, laughed.
'Pooh!' she said. 'Everybody says they see the Opera ghost,
but there isn't really a ghost. You saw a shadow on the wall.'
But she did not open the door, or look into the passage.
'Lots of people see him,' a second girl said. 'Joseph Buquet
saw him two days ago. Don't you remember?'
Then all the girls began to talk at once.
'Joseph says the ghost is tall and he wears a black evening
coat.'
'He has the head of a dead man, with a yellow face and no
nose ...'
'... And no eyes - only black holes!'
Then little Meg Giry spoke for the first time. 'Don't talk
about him. He doesn't like it. My mother told me.'
'Your mother?' the girl with black hair said. 'What does your
mother know about the ghost?'
'She says that Joseph Buquet is a fool. The ghost doesn't like
people talking about him, and one day Joseph Buquet is going
to be sorry, very sorry.'
'But what does your mother know? Tell us, tell us!' all the
girls cried.
'Oh dear!' said Meg. 'But please don't say a word to anyone.
You know my mother is the doorkeeper for some of the boxes
in the Opera House. Well, Box 5 is the ghost's box! He watches
the operas from that box, and sometimes he leaves flowers for
my mother!'
'The ghost has a box! And leaves flowers in it!'
'Oh, Meg, your mother's telling you stories! How can the
ghost have a box?'
'It's true, it's true, I tell you!' Meg said. 'Nobody buys tickets
for Box 5, but the ghost always comes to it on opera nights.'
'So somebody does come there?'
'Why, no! ... The ghost comes, but there is nobody there.'
The dancers looked at Meg. 'But how does your mother
know?' one of them asked.
'There's no man in a black evening coat, with a yellow face.
That's all wrong. My mother never sees the ghost in Box 5, but
she hears him! He talks to her, but there is nobody there! And
he doesn't like people talking about him!'
But that evening the dancers could not stop talking about the
Opera ghost. They talked before the opera, all through the
opera, and after the opera. But they talked very quietly, and
they looked behind them before they spoke.
When the opera finished, the girls went back to their
The directors of the Opera House 5
dressing-room. Suddenly, they heard somebody in the passage,
and Madame Giry, Meg's mother, ran into the room. She was
a far, motherly woman, with a red, happy face. But tonight her
face was white.
'Oh girls.' she cried. 'Joseph Buquet is dead! You know he
works a long way down, on the fourth floor under the stage.
The other stage workers found his dead body there an hour ago
- with a rope around his neck!'
'It's the ghost!' cried Meg Giry. 'The ghost killed him!'