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Chapter 3. The Mysterious Reason (continued)
"`Box Five on the grand tier shall be placed at the disposal of the Opera ghost for every performance.'
"When we saw this, there was nothing else for us to do but to rise from our chairs, shake our two predecessors warmly by the hand and congratulate them on thinking of this charming little joke, which proved that the old French sense of humor was never likely to become extinct. Richard added that he now understood why MM. Debienne and Poligny were retiring from the management of the National Academy of Music. Business was impossible with so unreasonable a ghost.
"`Certainly, two hundred and forty thousand francs are not be picked up for the asking,' said M. Poligny, without moving a muscle of his face. `And have you considered what the loss over Box Five meant to us? We did not sell it once; and not only that, but we had to return the subscription: why, it's awful! We really can't work to keep ghosts! We prefer to go away!'
"`Yes,' echoed M. Debienne, `we prefer to go away. Let us go.'"
"And he stood up. Richard said: `But, after all all, it seems to me that you were much too kind to the ghost. If I had such a troublesome ghost as that, I should not hesitate to have him arrested.'
"`But how? Where?' they cried, in chorus. `We have never seen him!'
"`But when he comes to his box?'
"'WE HAVE NEVER SEEN HIM IN HIS BOX.'
"`Then sell it.'
"`Sell the Opera ghost's box! Well, gentlemen, try it.'
"Thereupon we all four left the office. Richard and I had `never laughed so much in our lives.'"
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