7) JENNIFER BASSETT - The Phantom of the Opera.


7) JENNIFER BASSETT - The Phantom of the Opera

7 My angel of music

For a week Raoul saw Christine every day. Some days Christine was quiet and unhappy, some days she laughed and sang. She never wanted to talk about the Opera House, or her singing, or Raoul's love for her. Raoul was very afraid for her. Who, or what, was this strange teacher, this man's voice, her 'angel of music'? Then one day there was no Christine. She was not at her
home, not at the Opera House, not at their meeting places. Raoul looked everywhere and asked everybody. Where was Christine Daae? But nobody knew. Two days before the Opera House opened again, a letter arrived for Raoul. It was from Christine. Meet me in an hour at the top of the Opera House, on the tenth floor.

The tenth floor of the Opera House was a dangerous place. There were hundreds of ropes going down to the stage below - it was a long, long way down. Raoul and Christine sat in a dark corner, and Raoul took Christine's hands. Her face was white and tired.
'Listen, Raoul,' she said quietly. 'I'm going to tell you everything. But this is our last meeting. I can never see you again.'
'No, Christine!' Raoul cried. I love you, and we...'
'Shh! Quietly! Perhaps he can hear us. He's everywhere in the Opera House, Raoul!'
'Who? What are you talking about, Christine?'

'My angel of music. I couldn't meet you last Saturday because he came for me, and took me away. I was in my dressing-room in the Opera House and suddenly, he was there in front of me! I saw the voice for the first time! He wore black everung clothes and a mask over his face. He took me through many secret doors and passages, down, down under the Opera House. There is a lake down there, a big lake; the waters are black and cold. He took me across the lake in a boat to his house. He lives there, Raoul, in a house on the lake, under the Opera House!'
Raoul stared at her. Was his beautiful Christine mad?

Christine saw his face, and said quickly:
'It's true, Raoul, it's true! And he ... he is the Phantom of the Opera! But he's not a ghost, he's not an angel of music, he's a man! His name is Erik, and he loves me, he wants me to be his wife! No, Raoul, listen, there is more. He told me all this in his house, in a beautiful room. He said that no woman could ever love him, because of his face. He was so unhappy! Then he took off his mask, and I saw his face.'
She began to cry, and Raoul put his arms around her.
'Oh Raoul, he has the most terrible face! It is so ugly! I wanted to scream and run away. But where could I run to? He has the face of a dead man, Raoul, but he is not dead! He has no nose, just two black holes in his yellow face. And his eyes! Sometimes they are black holes, sometimes they have a terrible red light...'

She put her face in her hands for a second.
Then she said, 'I stayed in his house for five days. He was very good to me, and I felt sorry for him, Raoul. He wants me to love him, and I told him ... I told him ...'
'No, Christine, no! You're going to be my wife! Come away with me at once, today! You can't go back to him.'
'But I must,' Christine said quietly. 'He knows about you, Raoul. He knows about us. He says he's going to kill you. I must go back to him.'
'Never!' said Raoul. 'I love you, Christine, and I'm going to kill this Erik!'
Erik... Erik ... Erik... Erik... The word whispered round the Opera House. Raoul and Christine stared.

'What was that?' Raoul said, afraid. 'Was that ... his voice? Where did it come from?'
'I'm afraid, Raoul,' Christine whispered. 'I'm singing Margarita again on Saturday. What's going to happen?'
'This,' Raoul said. 'After the opera on Saturday night, you and I are going away together. Come on, let's go down now. I don't like it up here.'
They went carefully along a dark passage to some stairs, then suddenly stopped. There was a man in front of them, a tall man in a long dark coat and a black hat. He turned and looked at them.

'No, not these stairs,' he said. 'Go to the stairs at the front. And go quickly!'
Christine turned and ran. Raoul ran after her.
'Who was that man?' he asked.
'It's the Persian,' Christine answered.
'But who is he? What's his name? Why did he tell us to go to the front stairs?'
'Nobody knows his name. He's just the Persian. He's always in the Opera House. I think he knows about Erik, but he never talks about him. Perhaps he saw Erik on those stairs, and wanted to help us.'

Hand in hand, they ran quickly down the stairs, through passages, then more stairs and more passages. At one of the little back doors to the Opera House, they stopped.
'On Saturday night, then. After the opera,' Raoul said. 'I'm going to take you away, and marry you.'
Christine looked up into his face. 'Yes, Raoul.'
Then they kissed, there by the door of the Opera House. Th
eir first kiss.