The Phantom of the Opera HTML version
Chapter 9. At the Masked Ball
The envelope was covered with mud and unstamped. It bore the words "To be handed to
M. le Vicomte Raoul de Chagny," with the address in pencil. It must have been flung out
in the hope that a passer-by would pick up the note and deliver it, which was what
happened. The note had been picked up on the pavement of the Place de l'Opera.
Raoul read it over again with fevered eyes. No more was needed to revive his hope. The
somber picture which he had for a moment imagined of a Christine forgetting her duty to
herself made way for his original conception of an unfortunate, innocent child, the victim
of imprudence and exaggerated sensibility. To what extent, at this time, was she really a
victim? Whose prisoner was she? Into what whirlpool had she been dragged? He asked
himself these questions with a cruel anguish; but even this pain seemed endurable beside
the frenzy into which he was thrown at the thought of a lying and deceitful Christine.
What had happened? What influence had she undergone? What monster had carried her
off and by what means? ...
By what means indeed but that of music? He knew Christine's story. After her father's
death, she acquired a distaste of everything in life, including her art. She went through the
CONSERVATOIRE like a poor soulless singing-machine. And, suddenly, she awoke as
though through the intervention of a god. The Angel of Music appeared upon the scene!
She sang Margarita in FAUST and triumphed!...
The Angel of Music!...For three months the Angel of Music had been giving Christine
lessons....Ah, he was a punctual singing-master!... And now he was taking her for drives
in the Bois!...
Raoul's fingers clutched at his flesh, above his jealous heart. In his inexperience, he now
asked himself with terror what game the girl was playing? Up to what point could an
opera-singer make a fool of a good-natured young man, quite new to love? O misery!...
Thus did Raoul's thoughts fly from one extreme to the other. He no longer knew whether
to pity Christine or to curse her; and he pitied and cursed her turn and turn about. At all
events, he bought a white domino.
The hour of the appointment came at last. With his face in a mask trimmed with long,
thick lace, looking like a pierrot in his white wrap, the viscount thought himself very
ridiculous. Men of the world do not go to the Opera ball in fancy-dress! It was absurd.
One thought, however, consoled the viscount: he would certainly never be recognized!
This ball was an exceptional affair, given some time before Shrovetide, in honor of the
anniversary of the birth of a famous draftsman; and it was expected to be much gayer,
noisier, more Bohemian than the ordinary masked ball. Numbers of artists had arranged