9 The house on
When the lights came on, Raoul ran.
He ran down stairs and along passages, through the Opera House
to the back of the stage. In the passage outside Christine's
dressing-room, a hand took his arm.
'What's the matter, my young friend? Where are you running
to, so quickly?'
Raoul turned and saw the long face of the Persian under his
'Christine!' Raoul said quickly. 'Erik's got her. Where is
she? Help me! How do I get to his house on the lake?'
'Come with me,' said the Persian.
They went quickly into Christine's dressing-room. The Persian
closed the door and went to the big mirror on one wall.
'There's only one door into this room,' Raoul began.
'Wait,' the Persian said.
He put his hands on the big mirror,
first here, then there. For a minute nothing happened. Then
the mirror began to move and turn, and a big dark hole opened
in it. Raoul stared.
'Quick! Come with me, but be careful,' the Persian said. 'I
know Erik. I understand his secrets. Put your right hand up
near your head, like this, and keep it there all the time.'
'But why?' Raoul asked.
'Remember Joseph Buquet, and the rope around his neck? Erik
is a clever man with ropes in the dark.'
They went down, down, down, under the Opera House. They went
through secret doors in the floors, then along passages and
down dark stairs. The Persian listened carefully all the time
for strange noises.
'When do we get to the lake?' Raoul whispered. 'We're not
going by the lake. Erik watches it all the time. No, we go
round the lake and get into Erik's house from the back. I
know some secret doors.'
Soon they were there. In the dark, the Persian felt the wall
carefully with his hands.
'Ah, here it is,' he whispered.
The wall moved under his hands and a small door opened. Very
quietly, they went through, and then the door closed behind
them. They could not get out. Inside the room it was very
dark. They waited and listened. The Persian put his hands
on the wall.
'Oh no!' he whispered. 'It was the wrong door! This is Erik's
torture room - the room of mirrors! We are dead men, Vicomte
de Chagny, dead men!'
At first Raoul did not understand. But he soon learnt. The
lights came on, and they heard a man's laugh. Erik knew they
were there. The room was all mirrors - walls, floor, ceiling.
There were pictures in the mirrors of trees and flowers and
rivers. The pictures moved and danced in front of their eyes.
And the room was hot. It got hotter and hotter and hotter.
Raoul was thirsty, hot and thirsty, and the rivers in the
pictures danced and laughed at him. He closed his eyes, but
the rivers still danced. Water, he needed water, but the mirrors
laughed at him. Soon he could not move or speak, or open his
eyes. He was not thirsty now, just tired, so tired.
'Oh Christine, I'm sorry,' he thought. 'I wanted to help you,
and now I'm dying ...'
Through a mirror in the wall Christine watched her lover in
the torture room. Behind her Erik stood, with his hands on
'He's dying, Christine, dying. Watch him carefully. No, don't
close your eyes. Watch him!'
Christine could not speak. She wanted to scream, but no words
came. Then she found her voice again.
'How can you do this, Erik! Why don't you kill me?'
'Because I love you, Christine. Marry me, be my wife, and
love me. Then Raoul and the Persian can live.'
Slowly, Christine turned. She looked into Erik's terrible
ugly face, and spoke again, very quietly.
'Yes, Erik. From this minute I am your wife.'
She put he arms around Erik's neck, and kissed him - kissed
him slowly and lovingly on his ugly mouth.
Then she took her arms away and said slowly, 'Poor, unhappy
Erik stared at her.
'You kissed me!' he whispered. 'I didn't ask you, but you
kissed me - freely! Oh Christine, my angel. That was my first
kiss from a woman. Even my mother never kissed me! She gave
me my first mask when I was two years old. She turned her
face away from me every time I came near her.'
Erik put his ugly face in his hands and cried. Then he went
down on the floor at Christine's feet. 'You are free, Christine
free! Go away and marry your Raoul, and be happy. But remember
Erik, sometimes. Go now, quickly! Take Raoul and the Persian,