THE PERSIAN'S NARRATIVE CONTINUED
We were in the middle of a little six-cornered room, the sides of which were covered with mirrors from top to bottom. In the corners, we could clearly see the "joins" in the glasses, the segments intended to turn on their gear; yes, I recognized them and I recognized the iron tree in the corner, at the bottom of one of those segments...the iron tree, with its iron branch, for the hanged men.
I seized my companion's arm: the Vicomte de Chagny was all a-quiver, eager to shout to his betrothed that he was bringing her help. I feared that he would not be able to contain himself.
Suddenly, we heard a noise on our left. It sounded at first like a door opening and shutting in the next room; and then there was a dull moan. I clutched M. de Chagny's arm more firmly still; and then we distinctly heard these words:
"You must make your choice! The wedding mass or the requiem mass!" I recognized the voice of the monster.
There was another moan, followed by a long silence.
I was persuaded by now that the monster was unaware of our presence in his house, for otherwise he would certainly have managed not to let us hear him. He would only have had to close the little invisible window through which the torture-lovers look down into the torture-chamber. Besides, I was certain that, if he had known of our presence, the tortures would have begun at once.
The important thing was not to let him know; and I dreaded nothing so much as the impulsiveness of the Vicomte de Chagny, who wanted to rush through the walls to Christine Daae, whose moans we continued to hear at intervals.
"The requiem mass is not at all gay," Erik's voice resumed, "whereas the wedding mass--you can take my word for it--is magnificent! You must take a resolution and know your own mind! I can't go on living like this, like a mole in a burrow! Don Juan Triumphant is finished; and now I want to live like everybody else. I want to have a wife like everybody else and to take her out on Sundays. I have invented a mask that makes me look like anybody. People will not even turn round in the streets. You will be the happiest of women. And we will sing, all by ourselves, till we swoon away with delight. You are crying! You are afraid of me! And yet I am not really wicked. Love me and you shall see! All I wanted was to be loved for myself. If you loved me I should be as gentle as a lamb; and you could do anything with me that you pleased."
Soon the moans that accompanied this sort of love's litany increased and increased. I have never heard anything more despairing; and M. de Chagny and I recognized that this terrible lamentation came from Erik himself. Christine seemed to be standing dumb with horror, without the strength to cry out, while the monster was on his knees before her.
Three times over, Erik fiercely bewailed his fate:
"You don't love me! You don't love me! You don't love me!"
And then, more gently:
"Why do you cry? You know it gives me pain to see you cry!"
Each silence gave us fresh hope. We said to ourselves:
"Perhaps he has left Christine behind the wall."
And we thought only of the possibility of warning Christine Daae of our presence, unknown to the monster. We were unable to leave the torture-chamber now, unless Christine opened the door to us; and it was only on this condition that we could hope to help her, for we did not even know where the door might be.
Suddenly, the silence in the next room was disturbed by the ringing of an electric bell. There was a bound on the other side of the wall and Erik's voice of thunder:
"Somebody ringing! Walk in, please!"
A sinister chuckle.
"Who has come bothering now? Wait for me here....I AM GOING TO TELL THE SIREN TO OPEN THE DOOR."
Steps moved away, a door closed. I had no time to think of the fresh horror that was preparing; I forgot that the monster was only going out perhaps to perpetrate a fresh crime; I understood but one thing: Christine was alone behind the wall!
The Vicomte de Chagny was already calling to her:
As we could hear what was said in the next room, there was no reason why my companion should not be heard in his turn. Nevertheless, the viscount had to repeat his cry time after time.
At last, a faint voice reached us.
"I am dreaming!" it said.
"Christine, Christine, it is I, Raoul!"
"But answer me, Christine!...In Heaven's name, if you are alone, answer me!"
Then Christine's voice whispered Raoul's name.
"Yes! Yes! It is I! It is not a dream!...Christine, trust me!...We are here to save you...but be prudent! When you hear the monster, warn us!"
Then Christine gave way to fear. She trembled lest Erik should discover where Raoul was hidden; she told us in a few hurried words that Erik had gone quite mad with love and that he had decided TO KILL EVERYBODY AND HIMSELF WITH EVERYBODY if she did not consent to become his wife. He had given her till eleven o'clock the next evening for reflection. It was the last respite. She must choose, as he said, between the wedding mass and the requiem.
And Erik had then uttered a phrase which Christine did not quite understand:
"Yes or no! If your answer is no, everybody will be dead AND BURIED!"
But I understood the sentence perfectly, for it corresponded in a terrible manner with my own dreadful thought.
"Can you tell us where Erik is?" I asked.
She replied that he must have left the house.
"Could you make sure?"
"No. I am fastened. I can not stir a limb."
When we heard this, M. de Chagny and I gave a yell of fury. Our safety, the safety of all three of us, depended on the girl's liberty of movement.
The Phantom of the Opera -by- Gaston Leroux