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The Phantom of the Opera

Chapter 21. Interesting and Instructive Vicissitudes of a
Persian
THE PERSIAN'S NARRATIVE
It was the first time that I entered the house on the lake. I had often begged the "trap-door
lover," as we used to call Erik in my country, to open its mysterious doors to me. He
always refused. I made very many attempts, but in vain, to obtain admittance. Watch him
as I might, after I first learned that he had taken up his permanent abode at the Opera, the
darkness was always too thick to enable me to see how he worked the door in the wall on
the lake. One day, when I thought myself alone, I stepped into the boat and rowed toward
that part of the wall through which I had seen Erik disappear. It was then that I came into
contact with the siren who guarded the approach and whose charm was very nearly fatal
to me.
I had no sooner put off from the bank than the silence amid which I floated on the water
was disturbed by a sort of whispered singing that hovered all around me. It was half
breath, half music; it rose softly from the waters of the lake; and I was surrounded by it
through I knew not what artifice. It followed me, moved with me and was so soft that it
did not alarm me. On the contrary, in my longing to approach the source of that sweet
and enticing harmony, I leaned out of my little boat over the water, for there was no
doubt in my mind that the singing came from the water itself. By this time, I was alone in
the boat in the middle of the lake; the voice-- for it was now distinctly a voice--was
beside me, on the water. I leaned over, leaned still farther. The lake was perfectly calm,
and a moonbeam that passed through the air hole in the Rue Scribe showed me absolutely
nothing on its surface, which was smooth and black as ink. I shook my ears to get rid of a
possible humming; but I soon had to accept the fact that there was no humming in the
ears so harmonious as the singing whisper that followed and now attracted me.
Had I been inclined to superstition, I should have certainly thought that I had to do with
some siren whose business it was to confound the traveler who should venture on the
waters of the house on the lake. Fortunately, I come from a country where we are too
fond of fantastic things not to know them through and through; and I had no doubt but
that I was face to face with some new invention of Erik's. But this invention was so
perfect that, as I leaned out of the boat, I was impelled less by a desire to discover its
trick than to enjoy its charm; and I leaned out, leaned out until I almost overturned the
boat.
Suddenly, two monstrous arms issued from the bosom of the waters and seized me by the
neck, dragging me down to the depths with irresistible force. I should certainly have been
lost, if I had not had time to give a cry by which Erik knew me. For it was he; and,
instead of drowning me, as was certainly his first intention, he swam with me and laid me
gently on the bank:
 
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