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Home -> Alexandre Dumas -> The Count of Monte Cristo -> The Secret Cave.

The Count of Monte Cristo - The Secret Cave.

1. Marseilles -- The Arrival.

2. Father and Son.

3. The Catalans.

4. Conspiracy.

5. The Marriage-Feast.

6. The Deputy Procureur du Roi.

7. The Examination.

8. The Chateau D'If.

9. The Evening of the Betrothal.

10. The King's Closet at the Tuileries.

11. The Corsican Ogre.

12. Father and Son.

13. The Hundred Days.

14. The Two Prisoners.

15. Number 34 and Number 27.

16. A Learned Italian.

17. The Abbe's Chamber.

18. The Treasure.

19. The Third Attack.

20. The Cemetery of the Chateau D'If.

21. The Island of Tiboulen.

22. The Smugglers.

23. The Island of Monte Cristo.

24. The Secret Cave.

25. The Unknown.

26. The Pont du Gard Inn.

27. The Story.

28. The Prison Register.

29. The House of Morrel & Son.

30. The Fifth of September.

31. Italy: Sinbad the Sailor.

32. The Waking.

33. Roman Bandits.

34. The Colosseum.

35. La Mazzolata.

36. The Carnival at Rome.

37. The Catacombs of Saint Sebastian.

38. The Compact.

39. The Guests.

40. The Breakfast.

41. The Presentation.

42. Monsieur Bertuccio.

43. The House at Auteuil.

44. The Vendetta.

45. The Rain of Blood.

46. Unlimited Credit.

47. The Dappled Grays.

48. Ideology.

49. Haidee.

50. The Morrel Family.

51. Pyramus and Thisbe.

52. Toxicology.

53. Robert le Diable.

54. A Flurry in Stocks.

55. Major Cavalcanti.

56. Andrea Cavalcanti.

57. In the Lucerne Patch.

58. M. Noirtier de Villefort.

59. The Will.

60. The Telegraph.

61. How a Gardener may get rid of the Dormice that eat His Peaches

62. Ghosts.

63. The Dinner.

64. The Beggar.

65. A Conjugal Scene.

66. Matrimonial Projects.

67. At the Office of the King's Attorney.

68. A Summer Ball.

69. The Inquiry.

70. The Ball.

71. Bread and Salt.

72. Madame de Saint-Meran.

73. The Promise.

74. The Villefort Family Vault.

75. A Signed Statement.

76. Progress of Cavalcanti the Younger.

77. Haidee.

78. We hear From Yanina.

79. The Lemonade.

80. The Accusation.

81. The Room of the Retired Baker.

82. The Burglary.

83. The Hand of God.

84. Beauchamp.

85. The Journey.

86. The Trial.

87. The Challenge.

88. The Insult.

89. A Nocturnal Interview.

90. The Meeting.

91. Mother and Son.

92. The Suicide.

93. Valentine.

94. Maximilian's Avowal.

95. Father and Daughter.

96. The Contract.

97. The Departure for Belgium.

98. The Bell and Bottle Tavern.

99. The Law.

100. The Apparition.

101. Locusta.

102. Valentine.

103. Maximilian.

104. Danglars Signature.

105. The Cemetery of Pere-la-Chaise.

106. Dividing the Proceeds.

107. The Lions' Den.

108. The Judge.

109. The Assizes.

110. The Indictment.

111. Expiation.

112. The Departure.

113. The Past.

114. Peppino.

115. Luigi Vampa's Bill of Fare.

116. The Pardon.

117. The Fifth of October.

The sun had nearly reached the meridian, and his scorching
rays fell full on the rocks, which seemed themselves
sensible of the heat. Thousands of grasshoppers, hidden in
the bushes, chirped with a monotonous and dull note; the
leaves of the myrtle and olive trees waved and rustled in
the wind. At every step that Edmond took he disturbed the
lizards glittering with the hues of the emerald; afar off he
saw the wild goats bounding from crag to crag. In a word,
the island was inhabited, yet Edmond felt himself alone,
guided by the hand of God. He felt an indescribable
sensation somewhat akin to dread -- that dread of the
daylight which even in the desert makes us fear we are
watched and observed. This feeling was so strong that at the
moment when Edmond was about to begin his labor, he stopped,
laid down his pickaxe, seized his gun, mounted to the summit
of the highest rock, and from thence gazed round in every

But it was not upon Corsica, the very houses of which he
could distinguish; or on Sardinia; or on the Island of Elba,
with its historical associations; or upon the almost
imperceptible line that to the experienced eye of a sailor
alone revealed the coast of Genoa the proud, and Leghorn the
commercial, that he gazed. It was at the brigantine that had
left in the morning, and the tartan that had just set sail,
that Edmond fixed his eyes. The first was just disappearing
in the straits of Bonifacio; the other, following an
opposite direction, was about to round the Island of
Corsica. This sight reassured him. He then looked at the
objects near him. He saw that he was on the highest point of
the island, -- a statue on this vast pedestal of granite,
nothing human appearing in sight, while the blue ocean beat
against the base of the island, and covered it with a fringe
of foam. Then he descended with cautious and slow step, for
he dreaded lest an accident similar to that he had so
adroitly feigned should happen in reality.

Dantes, as we have said, had traced the marks along the
rocks, and he had noticed that they led to a small creek.
which was hidden like the bath of some ancient nymph. This
creek was sufficiently wide at its mouth, and deep in the
centre, to admit of the entrance of a small vessel of the
lugger class, which would be perfectly concealed from

Then following the clew that, in the hands of the Abbe
Faria, had been so skilfully used to guide him through the
Daedalian labyrinth of probabilities, he thought that the
Cardinal Spada, anxious not to be watched, had entered the
creek, concealed his little barque, followed the line marked
by the notches in the rock, and at the end of it had buried
his treasure. It was this idea that had brought Dantes back
to the circular rock. One thing only perplexed Edmond, and
destroyed his theory. How could this rock, which weighed
several tons, have been lifted to this spot, without the aid
of many men? Suddenly an idea flashed across his mind.
Instead of raising it, thought he, they have lowered it. And
he sprang from the rock in order to inspect the base on
which it had formerly stood. He soon perceived that a slope
had been formed, and the rock had slid along this until it
stopped at the spot it now occupied. A large stone had
served as a wedge; flints and pebbles had been inserted
around it, so as to conceal the orifice; this species of
masonry had been covered with earth, and grass and weeds had
grown there, moss had clung to the stones, myrtle-bushes had
taken root, and the old rock seemed fixed to the earth.

Dantes dug away the earth carefully, and detected, or
fancied he detected, the ingenious artifice. He attacked
this wall, cemented by the hand of time, with his pickaxe.
After ten minutes' labor the wall gave way, and a hole large
enough to insert the arm was opened. Dantes went and cut the
strongest olive-tree he could find, stripped off its
branches, inserted it in the hole, and used it as a lever.
But the rock was too heavy, and too firmly wedged, to be
moved by any one man, were he Hercules himself. Dantes saw
that he must attack the wedge. But how? He cast his eyes
around, and saw the horn full of powder which his friend
Jacopo had left him. He smiled; the infernal invention would
serve him for this purpose. With the aid of his pickaxe,
Dantes, after the manner of a labor-saving pioneer, dug a
mine between the upper rock and the one that supported it,
filled it with powder, then made a match by rolling his
handkerchief in saltpetre. He lighted it and retired. The
explosion soon followed; the upper rock was lifted from its
base by the terrific force of the powder; the lower one flew
into pieces; thousands of insects escaped from the aperture
Dantes had previously formed, and a huge snake, like the
guardian demon of the treasure, rolled himself along in
darkening coils, and disappeared.

Dantes approached the upper rock, which now, without any
support, leaned towards the sea. The intrepid
treasure-seeker walked round it, and, selecting the spot
from whence it appeared most susceptible to attack, placed
his lever in one of the crevices, and strained every nerve
to move the mass. The rock, already shaken by the explosion,
tottered on its base. Dantes redoubled his efforts; he
seemed like one of the ancient Titans, who uprooted the
mountains to hurl against the father of the gods. The rock
yielded, rolled over, bounded from point to point, and
finally disappeared in the ocean.

On the spot it had occupied was a circular space, exposing
an iron ring let into a square flag-stone. Dantes uttered a
cry of joy and surprise; never had a first attempt been
crowned with more perfect success. He would fain have
continued, but his knees trembled, and his heart beat so
violently, and his sight became so dim, that he was forced
to pause. This feeling lasted but for a moment. Edmond
inserted his lever in the ring and exerted all his strength;
the flag-stone yielded, and disclosed steps that descended
until they were lost in the obscurity of a subterraneous
grotto. Any one else would have rushed on with a cry of joy.
Dantes turned pale, hesitated, and reflected. "Come," said
he to himself, "be a man. I am accustomed to adversity. I
must not be cast down by the discovery that I have been
deceived. What, then, would be the use of all I have
suffered? The heart breaks when, after having been elated by
flattering hopes, it sees all its illusions destroyed. Faria
has dreamed this; the Cardinal Spada buried no treasure
here; perhaps he never came here, or if he did, Caesar
Borgia, the intrepid adventurer, the stealthy and
indefatigable plunderer, has followed him, discovered his
traces, pursued them as I have done, raised the stone, and
descending before me, has left me nothing." He remained
motionless and pensive, his eyes fixed on the gloomy
aperture that was open at his feet.

"Now that I expect nothing, now that I no longer entertain
the slightest hopes, the end of this adventure becomes
simply a matter of curiosity." And he remained again
motionless and thoughtful.

"Yes, yes; this is an adventure worthy a place in the varied
career of that royal bandit. This fabulous event formed but
a link in a long chain of marvels. Yes, Borgia has been
here, a torch in one hand, a sword in the other, and within
twenty paces, at the foot of this rock, perhaps two guards
kept watch on land and sea, while their master descended, as
I am about to descend, dispelling the darkness before his
awe-inspiring progress."

"But what was the fate of the guards who thus possessed his
secret?" asked Dantes of himself.

"The fate," replied he, smiling, "of those who buried

"Yet, had he come," thought Dantes, "he would have found the
treasure, and Borgia, he who compared Italy to an artichoke,
which he could devour leaf by leaf, knew too well the value
of time to waste it in replacing this rock. I will go down."

Then he descended, a smile on his lips, and murmuring that
last word of human philosophy, "Perhaps!" But instead of the
darkness, and the thick and mephitic atmosphere he had
expected to find, Dantes saw a dim and bluish light, which,
as well as the air, entered, not merely by the aperture he
had just formed, but by the interstices and crevices of the
rock which were visible from without, and through which he
could distinguish the blue sky and the waving branches of
the evergreen oaks, and the tendrils of the creepers that
grew from the rocks. After having stood a few minutes in the
cavern, the atmosphere of which was rather warm than damp,
Dantes' eye, habituated as it was to darkness, could pierce
even to the remotest angles of the cavern, which was of
granite that sparkled like diamonds. "Alas," said Edmond,
smiling, "these are the treasures the cardinal has left; and
the good abbe, seeing in a dream these glittering walls, has
indulged in fallacious hopes."

But he called to mind the words of the will, which he knew
by heart. "In the farthest angle of the second opening,"
said the cardinal's will. He had only found the first
grotto; he had now to seek the second. Dantes continued his
search. He reflected that this second grotto must penetrate
deeper into the island; he examined the stones, and sounded
one part of the wall where he fancied the opening existed,
masked for precaution's sake. The pickaxe struck for a
moment with a dull sound that drew out of Dantes' forehead
large drops of perspiration. At last it seemed to him that
one part of the wall gave forth a more hollow and deeper
echo; he eagerly advanced, and with the quickness of
perception that no one but a prisoner possesses, saw that
there, in all probability, the opening must be.

However, he, like Caesar Borgia, knew the value of time;
and, in order to avoid fruitless toil, he sounded all the
other walls with his pickaxe, struck the earth with the butt
of his gun, and finding nothing that appeared suspicious,
returned to that part of the wall whence issued the
consoling sound he had before heard. He again struck it, and
with greater force. Then a singular thing occurred. As he
struck the wall, pieces of stucco similar to that used in
the ground work of arabesques broke off, and fell to the
ground in flakes, exposing a large white stone. The aperture
of the rock had been closed with stones, then this stucco
had been applied, and painted to imitate granite. Dantes
struck with the sharp end of his pickaxe, which entered
someway between the interstices. It was there he must dig.
But by some strange play of emotion, in proportion as the
proofs that Faria, had not been deceived became stronger, so
did his heart give way, and a feeling of discouragement
stole over him. This last proof, instead of giving him fresh
strength, deprived him of it; the pickaxe descended, or
rather fell; he placed it on the ground, passed his hand
over his brow, and remounted the stairs, alleging to
himself, as an excuse, a desire to be assured that no one
was watching him, but in reality because he felt that he was
about to faint. The island was deserted, and the sun seemed
to cover it with its fiery glance; afar off, a few small
fishing boats studded the bosom of the blue ocean.

Dantes had tasted nothing, but he thought not of hunger at
such a moment; he hastily swallowed a few drops of rum, and
again entered the cavern. The pickaxe that had seemed so
heavy, was now like a feather in his grasp; he seized it,
and attacked the wall. After several blows he perceived that
the stones were not cemented, but had been merely placed one
upon the other, and covered with stucco; he inserted the
point of his pickaxe, and using the handle as a lever, with
joy soon saw the stone turn as if on hinges, and fall at his
feet. He had nothing more to do now, but with the iron tooth
of the pickaxe to draw the stones towards him one by one.
The aperture was already sufficiently large for him to
enter, but by waiting, he could still cling to hope, and
retard the certainty of deception. At last, after renewed
hesitation, Dantes entered the second grotto. The second
grotto was lower and more gloomy than the first; the air
that could only enter by the newly formed opening had the
mephitic smell Dantes was surprised not to find in the outer
cavern. He waited in order to allow pure air to displace the
foul atmosphere, and then went on. At the left of the
opening was a dark and deep angle. But to Dantes' eye there
was no darkness. He glanced around this second grotto; it
was, like the first, empty.

The treasure, if it existed, was buried in this corner. The
time had at length arrived; two feet of earth removed, and
Dantes' fate would be decided. He advanced towards the
angle, and summoning all his resolution, attacked the ground
with the pickaxe. At the fifth or sixth blow the pickaxe
struck against an iron substance. Never did funeral knell,
never did alarm-bell, produce a greater effect on the
hearer. Had Dantes found nothing he could not have become
more ghastly pale. He again struck his pickaxe into the
earth, and encountered the same resistance, but not the same
sound. "It is a casket of wood bound with iron," thought he.
At this moment a shadow passed rapidly before the opening;
Dantes seized his gun, sprang through the opening, and
mounted the stair. A wild goat had passed before the mouth
of the cave, and was feeding at a little distance. This
would have been a favorable occasion to secure his dinner;
but Dantes feared lest the report of his gun should attract

He thought a moment, cut a branch of a resinous tree,
lighted it at the fire at which the smugglers had prepared
their breakfast, and descended with this torch. He wished to
see everything. He approached the hole he had dug, and now,
with the aid of the torch, saw that his pickaxe had in
reality struck against iron and wood. He planted his torch
in the ground and resumed his labor. In an instant a space
three feet long by two feet broad was cleared, and Dantes
could see an oaken coffer, bound with cut steel; in the
middle of the lid he saw engraved on a silver plate, which
was still untarnished, the arms of the Spada family -- viz.,
a sword, pale, on an oval shield, like all the Italian
armorial bearings, and surmounted by a cardinal's hat;
Dantes easily recognized them, Faria had so often drawn them
for him. There was no longer any doubt: the treasure was
there -- no one would have been at such pains to conceal an
empty casket. In an instant he had cleared every obstacle
away, and he saw successively the lock, placed between two
padlocks, and the two handles at each end, all carved as
things were carved at that epoch, when art rendered the
commonest metals precious. Dantes seized the handles, and
strove to lift the coffer; it was impossible. He sought to
open it; lock and padlock were fastened; these faithful
guardians seemed unwilling to surrender their trust. Dantes
inserted the sharp end of the pickaxe between the coffer and
the lid, and pressing with all his force on the handle,
burst open the fastenings. The hinges yielded in their turn
and fell, still holding in their grasp fragments of the
wood, and the chest was open.

Edmond was seized with vertigo; he cocked his gun and laid
it beside him. He then closed his eyes as children do in
order that they may see in the resplendent night of their
own imagination more stars than are visible in the
firmament; then he re-opened them, and stood motionless with
amazement. Three compartments divided the coffer. In the
first, blazed piles of golden coin; in the second, were
ranged bars of unpolished gold, which possessed nothing
attractive save their value; in the third, Edmond grasped
handfuls of diamonds, pearls, and rubies, which, as they
fell on one another, sounded like hail against glass. After
having touched, felt, examined these treasures, Edmond
rushed through the caverns like a man seized with frenzy; he
leaped on a rock, from whence he could behold the sea. He
was alone -- alone with these countless, these unheard-of
treasures! was he awake, or was it but a dream?

He would fain have gazed upon his gold, and yet he had not
strength enough; for an instant he leaned his head in his
hands as if to prevent his senses from leaving him, and then
rushed madly about the rocks of Monte Cristo, terrifying the
wild goats and scaring the sea-fowls with his wild cries and
gestures; then he returned, and, still unable to believe the
evidence of his senses, rushed into the grotto, and found
himself before this mine of gold and jewels. This time he
fell on his knees, and, clasping his hands convulsively,
uttered a prayer intelligible to God alone. He soon became
calmer and more happy, for only now did he begin to realize
his felicity. He then set himself to work to count his
fortune. There were a thousand ingots of gold, each weighing
from two to three pounds; then he piled up twenty-five
thousand crowns, each worth about eighty francs of our
money, and bearing the effigies of Alexander VI. and his
predecessors; and he saw that the complement was not half
empty. And he measured ten double handfuls of pearls,
diamonds, and other gems, many of which, mounted by the most
famous workmen, were valuable beyond their intrinsic worth.
Dantes saw the light gradually disappear, and fearing to be
surprised in the cavern, left it, his gun in his hand. A
piece of biscuit and a small quantity of rum formed his
supper, and he snatched a few hours' sleep, lying over the
mouth of the cave.

It was a night of joy and terror, such as this man of
stupendous emotions had already experienced twice or thrice
in his lifetime.

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