The Phantom of the Opera
Chapter 17. The Safety-Pin Again
Moncharmin's last phrase so dearly expressed the suspicion in which he now held his
partner that it was bound to cause a stormy explanation, at the end of which it was agreed
that Richard should yield to all Moncharmin's wishes, with the object of helping him to
discover the miscreant who was victimizing them.
This brings us to the interval after the Garden Act, with the strange conduct observed by
M. Remy and those curious lapses from the dignity that might be expected of the
managers. It was arranged between Richard and Moncharmin, first, that Richard should
repeat the exact movements which he had made on the night of the disappearance of the
first twenty-thousand francs; and, second, that Moncharmin should not for an instant lose
sight of Richard's coat-tail pocket, into which Mme. Giry was to slip the twenty-thousand
M. Richard went and placed himself at the identical spot where he had stood when he
bowed to the under-secretary for fine arts. M. Moncharmin took up his position a few
steps behind him.
Mme. Giry passed, rubbed up against M. Richard, got rid of her twenty-thousand francs
in the manager's coat-tail pocket and disappeared....Or rather she was conjured away. In
accordance with the instructions received from Moncharmin a few minutes earlier,
Mercier took the good lady to the acting-manager's office and turned the key on her, thus
making it impossible for her to communicate with her ghost.
Meanwhile, M. Richard was bending and bowing and scraping and walking backward,
just as if he had that high and mighty minister, the under-secretary for fine arts, before
him. Only, though these marks of politeness would have created no astonishment if the
under-secretary of state had really been in front of M. Richard, they caused an easily
comprehensible amazement to the spectators of this very natural but quite inexplicable
scene when M. Richard had no body in front of him.
M. Richard bowed...to nobody; bent his back...before nobody; and walked
backward...before nobody....And, a few steps behind him, M. Moncharmin did the same
thing that he was doing in addition to pushing away M. Remy and begging M. de La
Borderie, the ambassador, and the manager of the Credit Central "not to touch M. le
Moncharmin, who had his own ideas, did not want Richard to come to him presently,
when the twenty-thousand francs were gone, and say:
"Perhaps it was the ambassador...or the manager of the Credit Central...or Remy."