The House on the Lake
“I had no doubt, to do with a terrible, eccentric person, who in some mysterious fashion, had succeeded in taking up his abode there, under the Opera house, five stories below the level of the ground.” -Christine
Of the drawing room:
“However extraordinary the adventure might be, I was now surrounded by mortal, visible, tangible things. The furniture, the hangings, the candles, the vases and the very flowers in their baskets, of which I could almost have told where they came and what they cost, were bound to confine my imagination to the limits of a drawing-room quite as commonplace as any that, at least, had the excuse of not being in the cellars of the Opera.”
“I noticed that there was no mirror in the whole apartment. I was going to remark upon this, but Erik had already sat down to the piano.”
Of her bedroom:
“When I woke up, I was alone, lying on a sofa in a simply furnished little bedroom, with an ordinary mahogany bedstead, lit by a lamp standing on the marble top of an old Louis-Philippe chest of drawers. I soon discovered that I was a prisoner and that the only outlet from my room led to a very comfortable bath-room.”
Of the dinning room:
“He pointed to a chair opposite him, at a small table, and I sat down…”
Of Erik’s bedroom:
“After lunch, he rose and gave me the tips of his fingers, saying he would like to show me over his flat…
“And he opened the door before me. ‘This is my bedroom, if you care to see it. It is rather curious.’ His manners, his words, his attitude gave me confidence and I went in without hesitation. I felt as if I were entering the room of a dead person. The walls were all hung with black, but, instead of the white trimmings that usually set off the funeral upholstery, there was an enormous stave of music with the notes of the Dies Irae, many times repeated. In the middle of the room was a canopy, from which hung curtains of red brocaded stuff, and, under the canopy, an open coffin. ‘That is where I sleep,’ said Erik. ‘One has to get used to everything in life, even to eternity.’ The sight upset me so much that I turned my head.
“Then I saw the keyboard of an organ which filled one whole side of the walls. On the desk was a music-book covered with red notes. I asked leave to look at it and read, Don Juan Triumphant."
‘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; 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 the 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.'
‘…the trunk of a tree, which seemed still quite alive, with its leaves; and the branches of the tree ran right up the walls and disappeared in the ceiling….they saw a corner of a branch…and another leaf…and another leaf…and, next to it, nothing at all, nothing but the ray of light that seemed to reflect itself…Raoul passed his hand over that nothing, over that reflection.
‘ “Hullo!” he said. “The wall is a looking-glass!” ‘
‘…the house which Erik had built himself in the double case of the foundation-walls of the Opera. And this was the easiest thing in the world for him to do, because Erik was one of the chief contractors under Philippe Garnier, the architect of the Opera, and continued to work by himself when the works were officially suspended…’
‘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 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.’
‘ “There are only two doors in my room, the Louis-Philippe room of which I told you, Raoul; a door through which Erik comes and goes, and another which he has never opened before me and which he has forbidden me ever to go through, because he says it is the most dangerous of the doors, the door of the torture-chamber!” ‘ -Christine
‘ ”Why, didn’t you see that it was an African forest?” ’ -Erik
‘…altered instantaneously into two successive other scenes, by rollers in the corners. These were divided into three sections, fitting into the angles of the mirrors and each supporting a decorative scheme that came into sight as the roller revolved upon its axis.
‘The walls of this strange room gave the patient nothing to lay hold of, because, apart from the solid decorative object, they were simply furnished with mirrors, thick enough to withstand any onslaught of the victim, who was flung into the chamber empty-handed and barefoot.
‘Thehere was no furniture. The ceiling was capable of being lit up. An ingenious system of electric heating, which has since been imitated, allowed the temperature of the walls and room to be increased at will.’
‘…near the Punjab lasso, in a groove in the floor, a black-headed nail of which I knew the use. As last I had discovered the spring! I felt the nail…I lived a radiant face to M. de Chagny…The black-headed nail yielded to my pressure
‘And then we saw not a door opened in the wall, but a cellar-flap released in the floor. Cool air came up to us from the black hole below… A dark staircase leading into the cellar.’
‘The staircase was a winding one and led down into pitchy darkness.’
‘We were in Erik’s cellar: it was here that he must keep his wine and perhaps his drinking-water. I knew that Erik was a great lover of good wide. Ah, there was plenty to drink here!
‘M. de Chagny patted the round shapes and kept saying: “Barrels! Barrels!…What a lot of barrels!…”
‘Indeed, there was quite a number of them, symmetrically arranged in two rows, one on either side of us. They were small barrels and I thought that Erik must have selected them of that size to facilitate their carriage to the house on the lake.
‘We examined them successively, to see if one of them had not a funnel, showing that it had been tapped at some time or another. But all the barrels were hermetically closed.’
Of a bedroom:
‘The wooden bedstead, the waxed mahogany chairs, the chest of drawers, those brasses, the little square antimacassars carefully placed on the backs of the chairs, the clock on the mantelpiece and the harmless-looking ebony caskets at either end, lastly, the whatnot filled with shells, with red pin-cushions, with mother-of-pearl boats and an enormous ostrich-egg, the whole discreetly lighted by a shaded lamp standing on a small round table: this collection of ugly, peaceable, reasonable furniture, at the bottom of the Opera cellars, bewildered the imagination more than all the late fantastic happenings.
‘ “You are looking at my furniture?…It is all that I have left of my poor unhappy mother.” ‘ –Erik
Gaston Leroux’s note:
‘I have not been able to find the house on the lake, Erik having blocked up all the secret entrances.’