The Phantom of the Opera
Chapter 4. Box Five
Armand Moncharmin wrote such voluminous Memoirs during the fairly long period of
his co-management that we may well ask if he ever found time to attend to the affairs of
the Opera otherwise than by telling what went on there. M. Moncharmin did not know a
note of music, but he called the minister of education and fine arts by his Christian name,
had dabbled a little in society journalism and enjoyed a considerable private income.
Lastly, he was a charming fellow and showed that he was not lacking in intelligence, for,
as soon as he made up his mind to be a sleeping partner in the Opera, he selected the best
possible active manager and went straight to Firmin Richard.
Firmin Richard was a very distinguished composer, who had published a number of
successful pieces of all kinds and who liked nearly every form of music and every sort of
musician. Clearly, therefore, it was the duty of every sort of musician to like M. Firmin
Richard. The only things to be said against him were that he was rather masterful in his
ways and endowed with a very hasty temper.
The first few days which the partners spent at the Opera were given over to the delight of
finding themselves the head of so magnificent an enterprise; and they had forgotten all
about that curious, fantastic story of the ghost, when an incident occurred that proved to
them that the joke--if joke it were--was not over. M. Firmin Richard reached his office
that morning at eleven o'clock. His secretary, M. Remy, showed him half a dozen letters
which he had not opened because they were marked "private." One of the letters had at
once attracted Richard's attention not only because the envelope was addressed in red ink,
but because he seemed to have seen the writing before. He soon remembered that it was
the red handwriting in which the memorandum-book had been so curiously completed.
He recognized the clumsy childish hand. He opened the letter and read:
DEAR MR. MANAGER:
I am sorry to have to trouble you at a time when you must be so very busy, renewing
important engagements, signing fresh ones and generally displaying your excellent taste.
I know what you have done for Carlotta, Sorelli and little Jammes and for a few others
whose admirable qualities of talent or genius you have suspected.
Of course, when I use these words, I do not mean to apply them to La Carlotta, who sings
like a squirt and who ought never to have been allowed to leave the Ambassadeurs and
the Cafe Jacquin; nor to La Sorelli, who owes her success mainly to the coach-builders;
nor to little Jammes, who dances like a calf in a field. And I am not speaking of Christine
Daae either, though her genius is certain, whereas your jealousy prevents her from
creating any important part. When all is said, you are free to conduct your little business
as you think best, are you not?