This story of adventure by Frenchman, Alexandre Dumans, has always been popular with young people all over the world. It can be obtained in a simplified form as in the passage below.
It tells the story of Edmond Dantes, a French seaman in the nineteenth century. He had just been made Captain and was about to marry the beautiful Mercedes, when he was arrested by soldiers. Enemies had accused him of wishing to overthrow the King and bring Napoleon back to power. Although he was innocent, he was imprisoned in the dreadful Chateau d’If, a prison on a small island off the coast of France. There he stayed until he had lost all count of time.
Faria, a prisoner in another cell, dug a tunnel into Dantes’ cell and they tried to find a way of escaping. One day Faria died and Dantes decided on a bold, desperate plan. The guards had put Faria’s body into a sack and left him. Dantes took Faria’s place in the sack. He decided to let the guards lay him in the grave and cover him with earth. Then, since it was night, as soon as they had gone, he would work his way through the earth and be free.
He is the story of his escape. If you want to know what happened next, you must read the story of his escape!
At last, at about the hour which the Governor had fixed, footsteps were heard outside Edmond felt that the great time had come. He must be brave now, braver than ever in his life before. They stopped at the door. He could hear two men. He heard them put down some wooden thing on which they were going to carry his body.
The door opened, and a dim light reached Dantes, eyes through the cloth which covered him. He saw two shadows draw near to his bed; another man with the lamp remained at the door. One man came to each end of the bed, and they took hold of the ends of the bag.
‘He is heavy for an old and thin man,’ said one, as he raised the head.
‘They say that every years adds something to the weight of the bones,’said the other, lifting the feet.
‘Have you tied it on?’ asked the first speaker.
‘What would be the use of carrying so much more wight,’ was the reply. ‘I can do that when we get there.’
‘Yes, you are right,’ answered the other.
‘Tied it on. Tied what on?” thought Dantes.
They put the supposed dead body on the carrier. Then the party moved up the steps, the man with the lamp going in front. Suddenly Dantes felt the cold and fresh night air. The men went forward some twenty yards, then stopped, and put the body down.
One of them went away. Dantes heard the sound of his shoes on the Stone.
‘Where am I?’ he asked himself.
‘Really he is a heavy load!’ said the other man, sitting down on the edge of the carrier.
For a minute Dantes thought of making his escape now; but he did not try to do so.
‘Give me some light, you,’ said the other fellow, ‘or I shall not find what I am looking for.’
The man with the lamp did as he asked.
‘What can he be looking for?’ thought Edmond. ‘Is it something to make the grave with?
But surely that must be ready?’
‘Here it is. I’ve found it.’
The man came towards Edmond. He heard some heavy object laid down beside him. Then something was tied around his feet.
‘Is that tied strongly enough?’ asked the man who was looking on.
‘Yes, that won’t come off, I can tell you,’ was the answer.
‘Move on then.’
Dantes felt himself lifted up again, and they moved some yards forward. They stopped to open a door; then forward again. The noise of the waves beating against the rocks came clearly to Dantes’ ears.
‘Bad weather,’ said of the man; ‘not a nice night for going the last journey.’
‘Why, yes; old Faria won’t be able to keep dry!’ said the other; and both laughed loudly.
Dantes could not understand this; but his hair stood on end.
‘Well, here we are at last,’ said on of them.
‘A little farther, a little farther,’ said the other.
‘You know very well that the last one was stopped on the way — fell on the rocks — and the Governor told us next day that we were careless fellows.’
They went up five or six more steps. Then Dantes felt them take him by the head and by the geet.
‘One!’ said the men. ‘Two! Three — and away!’
Then Dantes felt himself thrown into the air and he was falling, falling. His blood ran cold. He was being drawn quickly down by some heavy weight, yet it seemed to him as if the time was a hundred years. At last, with a fearful noise he entered the cold water. As he did so, he gave a cry, which was stopped at once by the cold water as it closed over him.
Dantes had been thrown into the sea, and was drawn down towards the bottom by a great stone tied to his feet.
The sea was the gavce of Chateau d’If.