The Phantom of the Opera HTML version
Chapter 6. A Visit to Box Five
We left M. Firmin Richard and M. Armand Moncharmin at the moment when they were
deciding "to look into that little matter of Box Five."
Leaving behind them the broad staircase which leads from the lobby outside the
managers' offices to the stage and its dependencies, they crossed the stage, went out by
the subscribers' door and entered the house through the first little passage on the left.
Then they made their way through the front rows of stalls and looked at Box Five on the
grand tier, They could not see it well, because it was half in darkness and because great
covers were flung over the red velvet of the ledges of all the boxes.
They were almost alone in the huge, gloomy house; and a great silence surrounded them.
It was the time when most of the stage-hands go out for a drink. The staff had left the
boards for the moment, leaving a scene half set. A few rays of light, a wan, sinister light,
that seemed to have been stolen from an expiring luminary, fell through some opening or
other upon an old tower that raised its pasteboard battlements on the stage; everything, in
this deceptive light, adopted a fantastic shape. In the orchestra stalls, the drugget covering
them looked like an angry sea, whose glaucous waves had been suddenly rendered
stationary by a secret order from the storm phantom, who, as everybody knows, is called
Adamastor. MM. Moncharmin and Richard were the shipwrecked mariners amid this
motionless turmoil of a calico sea. They made for the left boxes, plowing their way like
sailors who leave their ship and try to struggle to the shore. The eight great polished
columns stood up in the dusk like so many huge piles supporting the threatening,
crumbling, big-bellied cliffs whose layers were represented by the circular, parallel,
waving lines of the balconies of the grand, first and second tiers of boxes. At the top,
right on top of the cliff, lost in M. Lenepveu's copper ceiling, figures grinned and
grimaced, laughed and jeered at MM. Richard and Moncharmin's distress. And yet these
figures were usually very serious. Their names were Isis, Amphitrite, Hebe, Pandora,
Psyche, Thetis, Pomona, Daphne, Clytie, Galatea and Arethusa. Yes, Arethusa herself
and Pandora, whom we all know by her box, looked down upon the two new managers of
the Opera, who ended by clutching at some piece of wreckage and from there stared
silently at Box Five on the grand tier.
I have said that they were distressed. At least, I presume so. M. Moncharmin, in any case,
admits that he was impressed. To quote his own words, in his Memoirs:
"This moonshine about the Opera ghost in which, since we first took over the duties of
MM. Poligny and Debienne, we had been so nicely steeped"--Moncharmin's style is not
always irreproachable-- "had no doubt ended by blinding my imaginative and also my
visual faculties. It may be that the exceptional surroundings in which we found ourselves,
in the midst of an incredible silence, impressed us to an unusual extent. It may be that we
were the sport of a kind of hallucination brought about by the semi-darkness of the