'Quick! Quick! Close the door! It's him!' Annie Sorelli ran into the dressing-room, her face white.
One of the girls ran and closed the door, and then they all turned to Annie Sorelli.
'Who? Where? What's the matter?' they cried.
'It's the ghost!' Annie said. 'In the passage. I saw him. He came through the wall in front of me! And... and I saw his face!'
Most of the girls were afraid, but one of them, a tall girl with black hair, laughed.
'Pooh!' she said. 'Everybody says they see the Opera ghost, but there isn't really a ghost. You saw a shadow on the wall.' But she did not open the door, or look into the passage.
'Lots of people see him,' a second girl said. 'Joseph Buquet saw him two days ago. Don't you remember?'
Then all the girls began to talk at once.
'Joseph says the ghost is tall and he wears a black evening coat.'
'He has the head of a dead man, with a yellow face and no nose...'
'... And no eyes - only black holes!'
Then little Meg Giry spoke for the first time. 'Don't talk about him. He doesn't like it. My mother told me.'
'Your mother?' the girl with black hair said. 'What does your mother know about the ghost?'
'She says that Joseph Buquet is a fool. The ghost doesn't like people talking about him, and one day Joseph Buquet is going to be sorry, very sorry.'
'But what does your mother know? Tell us, tell us!' all the girls cried.
'Oh dear!' said Meg. 'But please don't say a word to anyone. You know my mother is the doorkeeper for some of the boxes in the Opera House. Well, Box 5 is the ghost's box! He watches the operas from that box, and sometimes he leaves flowers for my mother!'
'The ghost has a box! And leaves flowers in it!'
'Oh, Meg, your mother's telling you stories! How can the ghost have a box?'
'It's true, it's true, I tell you!' Meg said. 'Nobody buys tickets for Box 5, but the ghost always comes to it on opera nights.'
'So somebody does come...