Chapter 18 The Treasure
returned next morning to the chamber of his companion in captivity, he
found Faria seated and looking composed. In the ray of light which entered
by the narrow window of his cell, he held open in his left hand, of which
alone, it will be recollected, he retained the use, a sheet of paper,
which, from being constantly rolled into a small compass, had the form of
a cylinder, and was not easily kept open. He did not speak, but showed the
paper to Dantès.
is that?" he inquired.
at it," said the abbé
with a smile.
have looked at it with all possible attention," said Dantès, "and I only see a
half-burnt paper, on which are traces of Gothic characters inscribed with
a peculiar kind of ink."
paper, my friend," said Faria, "I may now avow to you, since I
have the proof of your fidelity--this paper is my treasure, of which, from
this day forth, one-half belongs to you."
sweat started forth on Dantès
brow. Until this day and for how long a time!--he had refrained from
talking of the treasure, which had brought upon the abbé the accusation of madness. With his instinctive
delicacy Edmond had preferred avoiding any touch on this painful chord,
and Faria had been equally silent. He had taken the silence of the old man
for a return to reason; and now these few words uttered by Faria, after so
painful a crisis, seemed to indicate a serious relapse into mental
treasure?" stammered Dantès.
said he. "You have, indeed, a noble nature, Edmond, and I see by your
paleness and agitation what is passing in your heart at this moment. No,
be assured, I am not mad. This treasure exists, Dantès, and if I have not been allowed to possess it, you
will. Yes--you. No one would listen or believe me, because everyone
thought me mad; but you, who must know that I am not, listen to me, and
believe me so afterwards if you will."
murmured Edmond to himself, "this is a terrible relapse! There was
only this blow wanting." Then he said aloud, "My dear friend,
your attack has, perhaps, fatigued you; had you not better repose awhile?
To-morrow, if you will, I will hear your narrative; but to-day I wish to
nurse you carefully. Besides," he said, "a treasure is not a
thing we need hurry about."
the contrary, it is a matter of the utmost importance, Edmond!"
replied the old man. "Who knows if to-morrow, or the next day after,
the third attack may not come on? and then must not all be over? Yes,
indeed, I have often thought with a bitter joy that these riches, which
would make the wealth of a dozen families, will be forever lost to those
men who persecute me. This idea was one of vengeance to me, and I tasted
it slowly in the night of my dungeon and the despair of my captivity. But
now I have forgiven the world for the love of you; now that I see you,
young and with a promising future,--now that I think of all that may
result to you in the good fortune of such a disclosure, I shudder at any
delay, and tremble lest I should not assure to one as worthy as yourself
the possession of so vast an amount of hidden wealth." Edmond turned
away his head with a sigh.
persist in your incredulity, Edmond," continued Faria. "My words
have not convinced you. I see you require proofs. Well, then, read this
paper, which I have never shown to any one."
my dear friend," said Edmond, desirous of not yielding to the old
man's madness. "I thought it was understood that we should not talk
of that until to-morrow."
we will not talk of it until to-morrow; but read this paper to-day."
will not irritate him," thought Edmond, and taking the paper, of
which half was wanting, having been burnt, no doubt, by some accident, he
treasure, which may amount to two
Roman crowns in the most distant a
the second opening wh
to belong to him alo
said Faria, when the young man had finished reading it.
"I see nothing but broken lines and unconnected words, which are
rendered illegible by fire."
to you, my friend, who read them for the first time; but not for me, who
have grown pale over them by many nights' study, and have reconstructed
every phrase, completed every thought."
do you believe you have discovered the hidden meaning?"
am sure I have, and you shall judge for yourself; but first listen to the
history of this paper."
"Steps approach--I go--adieu."
Dantès, happy to escape the history
and explanation which would be sure to confirm his belief in his friend's
mental instability, glided like a snake along the narrow passage; while
Faria, restored by his alarm to a certain amount of activity, pushed the
stone into place with his foot, and covered it with a mat in order the
more effectually to avoid discovery.
was the governor, who, hearing of Faria's illness from the jailer, had
come in person to see him.
sat up to receive him, avoiding all gestures in order that he might
conceal from the governor the paralysis that had already half stricken him
with death. His fear was lest the governor, touched with pity, might order
him to be removed to better quarters, and thus separate him from his young
companion. But fortunately this was not the case, and the governor left
him, convinced that the poor madman, for whom in his heart he felt a kind
of affection, was only troubled with a slight indisposition.
this time, Edmond, seated on his bed with his head in his hands, tried to
collect his scattered thoughts. Faria, since their first acquaintance, had
been on all points so rational and logical, so wonderfully sagacious, in
fact, that he could not understand how so much wisdom on all points could
be allied with madness. Was Faria deceived as to his treasure, or was all
the world deceived as to Faria?
Dantès remained in his cell all day,
not daring to return to his friend, thinking thus to defer the moment when
he should be convinced, once for all, that the abbé was mad--such a conviction would be so terrible!
towards the evening after the hour for the customary visit had gone by,
Faria, not seeing the young man appear, tried to move and get over the
distance which separated them. Edmond shuddered when he heard the painful
efforts which the old man made to drag himself along; his leg was inert,
and he could no longer make use of one arm. Edmond was obliged to assist
him, for otherwise he would not have been able to enter by the small
aperture which led to Dantès' chamber.
I am, pursuing you remorselessly," he said with a benignant smile.
"You thought to escape my munificence, but it is in vain. Listen to
saw there was no escape, and placing the old man on his bed, he seated
himself on the stool beside him.
know," said the abbé,
"that I was the secretary and intimate friend of Cardinal Spada, the
last of the princes of that name. I owe to this worthy lord all the
happiness I ever knew. He was not rich, although the wealth of his family
had passed into a proverb, and I heard the phrase very often, 'As rich as
a Spada.' But he, like public rumor, lived on this reputation for wealth;
his palace was my paradise. I was tutor to his nephews, who are dead; and
when he was alone in the world, I tried by absolute devotion to his will,
to make up to him all he had done for me during ten years of unremitting
kindness. The cardinal's house had no secrets for me. I had often seen my
noble patron annotating ancient volumes, and eagerly searching amongst
dusty family manuscripts. One day when I was reproaching him for his
unavailing searches, and deploring the prostration of mind that followed
them, he looked at me, and, smiling bitterly, opened a volume relating to
the History of the City of Rome. There, in the twentieth chapter of the
Life of Pope Alexander VI, were the following lines, which I can never
great wars of Romagna had ended; C?sar Borgia, who had completed his
conquest, had need of money to purchase all Italy. The pope had also need
of money to bring matters to an end with Louis XII. King of France, who
was formidable still in spite of his recent reverses; and it was
necessary, therefore, to have recourse to some profitable scheme, which
was a matter of great difficulty in the impoverished condition of
exhausted Italy. His holiness had an idea. He determined to make two
choosing two of the greatest personages of Rome, especially rich men--this
was the return the holy father looked for. In the first place, he could
sell the great appointments and splendid offices which the cardinals
already held; and then he had the two hats to sell besides. There was a
third point in view, which will appear hereafter. The pope and C?sar
Borgia first found the two future cardinals; they were Giovanni
Rospigliosi, who held four of the highest dignities of the Holy See, and
C?sar Spada, one of the noblest and richest of the Roman nobility; both
felt the high honor of such a favor from the pope. They were ambitious,
and C?sar Borgia soon found purchasers for their appointments. The result
was, that Rospigliosi and Spada paid for being cardinals, and eight other
persons paid for the offices the cardinals held before their elevation,
and thus eight hundred thousand crowns entered into the coffers of the
is time now to proceed to the last part of the speculation. The pope
heaped attentions upon Rospigliosi and Spada, conferred upon them the
insignia of the cardinalate, and induced them to arrange their affairs and
take up their residence at Rome. Then the pope and C?sar Borgia invited
the two cardinals to dinner. This was a matter of dispute between the holy
father and his son. C?sar thought they could make use of one of the means
which he always had ready for his friends, that is to say, in the first
place, the famous key which was given to certain persons with the request
that they go and open a designated cupboard. This key was furnished with a
small iron point,--a negligence on the part of the locksmith. When this
was pressed to effect the opening of the cupboard, of which the lock was
difficult, the person was pricked by this small point, and died next day.
Then there was the ring with the lion's head, which C?sar wore when he
wanted to greet his friends with a clasp of the hand. The lion bit the
hand thus favored, and at the end of twenty-four hours, the bite was
mortal. C?sar proposed to his father, that they should either ask the
cardinals to open the cupboard, or shake hands with them; but Alexander
VI., replied: 'Now as to the worthy cardinals, Spada and Rospigliosi, let
us ask both of them to dinner, something tells me that we shall get that
money back. Besides, you forget, C?sar, an indigestion declares itself
immediately, while a prick or a bite occasions a delay of a day or two.'
C?sar gave way before such cogent reasoning, and the cardinals were
consequently invited to dinner.
table was laid in a vineyard belonging to the pope, near San Pierdarena, a
charming retreat which the cardinals knew very well by report. Rospigliosi,
quite set up with his new dignities, went with a good appetite and his
most ingratiating manner. Spada, a prudent man, and greatly attached to
his only nephew, a young captain of the highest promise, took paper and
pen, and made his will. He then sent word to his nephew to wait for him
near the vineyard; but it appeared the servant did not find him.
knew what these invitations meant; since Christianity, so eminently
civilizing, had made progress in Rome, it was no longer a centurion who
came from the tyrant with a message, 'C?sar wills that you die.' but it
was a legate a latere, who came with a smile on his lips to say from the
pope, 'His holiness requests you to dine with him.'
set out about two o'clock to San Pierdarena. The pope awaited him. The
first sight that attracted the eyes of Spada was that of his nephew, in
full costume, and C?sar Borgia paying him most marked attentions. Spada
turned pale, as C?sar looked at him with an ironical air, which proved
that he had anticipated all, and that the snare was well spread. They
began dinner and Spada was only able to inquire of his nephew if he had
received his message. The nephew replied no; perfectly comprehending the
meaning of the question. It was too late, for he had already drunk a glass
of excellent wine, placed for him expressly by the pope's butler. Spada at
the same moment saw another bottle approach him, which he was pressed to
taste. An hour afterwards a physician declared they were both poisoned
through eating mushrooms. Spada died on the threshold of the vineyard; the
nephew expired at his own door, making signs which his wife could not
C?sar and the pope hastened to lay hands on the heritage, under presence
of seeking for the papers of the dead man. But the inheritance consisted
in this only, a scrap of paper on which Spada had written:--'I bequeath to
my beloved nephew my coffers, my books, and, amongst others, my breviary
with the gold corners, which I beg he will preserve in remembrance of his
heirs sought everywhere, admired the breviary, laid hands on the
furniture, and were greatly astonished that Spada, the rich man, was
really the most miserable of uncles--no treasures--unless they were those
of science, contained in the library and laboratories. That was all. C?sar
and his father searched, examined, scrutinized, but found nothing, or at
least very little; not exceeding a few thousand crowns in plate, and about
the same in ready money; but the nephew had time to say to his wife before
he expired: 'Look well among my uncle's papers; there is a will.'
sought even more thoroughly than the august heirs had done, but it was
fruitless. There were two palaces and a vineyard behind the Palatine Hill;
but in these days landed property had not much value, and the two palaces
and the vineyard remained to the family since they were beneath the
rapacity of the pope and his son. Months and years rolled on. Alexander
VI. died, poisoned,--you know by what mistake. C?sar, poisoned at the same
time, escaped by shedding his skin like a snake; but the new skin was
spotted by the poison till it looked like a tiger's. Then, compelled to
quit Rome, he went and got himself obscurely killed in a night skirmish,
scarcely noticed in history. After the pope's death and his son's exile,
it was supposed that the Spada family would resume the splendid position
they had held before the cardinal's time; but this was not the case. The
Spadas remained in doubtful ease, a mystery hung over this dark affair,
and the public rumor was, that C?sar, a better politician than his father,
had carried off from the pope the fortune of the two cardinals. I say the
two, because Cardinal Rospigliosi, who had not taken any precaution, was
to this point," said Faria, interrupting the thread of his narrative,
"this seems to you very meaningless, no doubt, eh?"
my friend," cried Dantès,
"on the contrary, it seems as if I were reading a most interesting
narrative; go on, I beg of you."
family began to get accustomed to their obscurity. Years rolled on, and
amongst the descendants some were soldiers, others diplomatists; some
churchmen, some bankers; some grew rich, and some were ruined. I come now
to the last of the family, whose secretary I was--the Count of Spada. I
had often heard him complain of the disproportion of his rank with his
fortune; and I advised him to invest all he had in an annuity. He did so,
and thus doubled his income. The celebrated breviary remained in the
family, and was in the count's possession. It had been handed down from
father to son; for the singular clause of the only will that had been
found, had caused it to be regarded as a genuine relic, preserved in the
family with superstitious veneration. It was an illuminated book, with
beautiful Gothic characters, and so weighty with gold, that a servant
always carried it before the cardinal on days of great solemnity.
the sight of papers of all sorts,--titles, contracts, parchments, which
were kept in the archives of the family, all descending from the poisoned
cardinal, I in my turn examined the immense bundles of documents, like
twenty servitors, stewards, secretaries before me; but in spite of the
most exhaustive researches, I found--nothing. Yet I had read, I had even
written a precise history of the Borgia family, for the sole purpose of
assuring myself whether any increase of fortune had occurred to them on
the death of the Cardinal C?sar Spada; but could only trace the
acquisition of the property of the Cardinal Rospigliosi, his companion in
I was then almost assured that the inheritance had neither profited the
Borgias nor the family, but had remained unpossessed like the treasures of
the Arabian Nights, which slept in the bosom of the earth under the eyes
of the genie. I searched, ransacked, counted, calculated a thousand and a
thousand times the income and expenditure of the family for three hundred
years. It was useless. I remained in my ignorance, and the Count of Spada
in his poverty. My patron died. He had reserved from his annuity his
family papers, his library, composed of five thousand volumes, and his
famous breviary. All these he bequeathed to me, with a thousand Roman
crowns, which he had in ready money, on condition that I would have
anniversary masses said for the repose of his soul, and that I would draw
up a genealogical tree and history of his house. All this I did
scrupulously. Be easy, my dear Edmond, we are near the conclusion.
1807, a month before I was arrested, and a fortnight after the death of
the Count of Spada, on the 25th of December (you will see presently how
the date became fixed in my memory), I was reading, for the thousandth
time, the papers I was arranging, for the palace was sold to a stranger,
and I was going to leave Rome and settle at Florence, intending to take
with me twelve thousand francs I possessed, my library, and the famous
breviary, when, tired with my constant labor at the same thing, and
overcome by a heavy dinner I had eaten, my head dropped on my hands, and I
fell asleep about three o'clock in the afternoon. I awoke as the clock was
striking six. I raised my head; I was in utter darkness. I rang for a
light, but as no one came, I determined to find one for myself. It was
indeed but anticipating the simple manners which I should soon be under
the necessity of adopting. I took a wax-candle in one hand, and with the
other groped about for a piece of paper (my match-box being empty), with
which I proposed to get a light from the small flame still playing on the
embers. Fearing, however, to make use of any valuable piece of paper, I
hesitated for a moment, then recollected that I had seen in the famous
breviary, which was on the table beside me, an old paper quite yellow with
age, and which had served as a marker for centuries, kept there by the
request of the heirs. I felt for it, found it, twisted it up together, and
putting it into the expiring flame, set light to it.
beneath my fingers, as if by magic, in proportion as the fire ascended, I
saw yellowish characters appear on the paper. I grasped it in my hand, put
out the flame as quickly as I could, lighted my taper in the fire itself,
and opened the crumpled paper with inexpressible emotion, recognizing,
when I had done so, that these characters had been traced in mysterious
and sympathetic ink, only appearing when exposed to the fire; nearly
one-third of the paper had been consumed by the flame. It was that paper
you read this morning; read it again, Dantès,
and then I will complete for you the incomplete words and unconnected
with an air of triumph, offered the paper to Dantès, who this time read the following words, traced
with an ink of a reddish color resembling rust:--
25th day of April, 1498, be...
VI, and fearing that not...
may desire to become my heir, and re...
Bentivoglio, who were poisoned,...
sole heir, that I have bu...
has visited with me, that is, in...
of Monte Cristo, all I poss...
diamonds, gems; that I alone...
amount to nearly two mil...
find on raising the twentieth ro...
to the east in a right line. Two open...
these caves; the treasure is in the furthest a...
treasure I bequeath and leave en...
my sole heir.
now," said the abbé,
"read this other paper;" and he presented to Dantès a second leaf with fragments of
lines written on it, which Edmond read as follows:--
invited to dine by his Holiness
with making me pay for my hat,
for me the fate of Cardinals Caprara
declare to my nephew, Guido Spada
in a place he knows
caves of the small
of ingots, gold, money,
of the existence of this treasure, which
of Roman crowns, and which he
from the small
have been made
in the second;
followed him with an excited look. "and now," he said, when he
saw that Dantès
had read the last line, "put the two fragments together, and judge
for yourself." Dantès
obeyed, and the conjointed pieces gave the following:--
25th day of April, 1498, be...ing invited to dine by his Holiness
Alexander VI., and fearing that not...content with making me pay for my
hat, he may desire to become my heir, and re...serves for me the fate of
Cardinals Caprara and Bentivoglio, who were poisoned...I declare to my
nephew, Guido Spada, my sole heir, that I have bu...ried in a place he
knows and has visited with me, that is, in...the caves of the small Island
of Monte Cristo all I poss...ssed of ingots, gold, money, jewels,
diamonds, gems; that I alone...know of the existence of this treasure,
which may amount to nearly two mil...lions of Roman crowns, and which he
will find on raising the twentieth ro...ck from the small creek to the
east in a right line. Two open...ings have been made in these caves; the
treasure is in the furthest a...ngle in the second; which treasure I
bequeath and leave en...tire to him as my sole heir.
do you comprehend now?" inquired Faria.
is the declaration of Cardinal Spada, and the will so long sought
for," replied Edmond, still incredulous.
a thousand times, yes!"
who completed it as it now is?"
did. Aided by the remaining fragment, I guessed the rest; measuring the
length of the lines by those of the paper, and divining the hidden meaning
by means of what was in part revealed, as we are guided in a cavern by the
small ray of light above us."
what did you do when you arrived at this conclusion?"
resolved to set out, and did set out at that very instant, carrying with
me the beginning of my great work, the unity of the Italian kingdom; but
for some time the imperial police (who at this period, quite contrary to
what Napoleon desired so soon as he had a son born to him, wished for a
partition of provinces) had their eyes on me; and my hasty departure, the
cause of which they were unable to guess, having aroused their suspicions,
I was arrested at the very moment I was leaving Piombino.
continued Faria, addressing Dantès with an almost paternal expression, "now, my
dear fellow, you know as much as I do myself. If we ever escape together,
half this treasure is yours; if I die here, and you escape alone, the
whole belongs to you."
hesitating, "has this treasure no more legitimate possessor in the
world than ourselves?"
no, be easy on that score; the family is extinct. The last Count of Spada,
moreover, made me his heir, bequeathing to me this symbolic breviary, he
bequeathed to me all it contained; no, no, make your mind satisfied on
that point. If we lay hands on this fortune, we may enjoy it without
you say this treasure amounts to"--
millions of Roman crowns; nearly thirteen millions of our money." 
staggered at the enormous amount.
and why?" asked the old man. "The Spada family was one of the
oldest and most powerful families of the fifteenth century; and in those
times, when other opportunities for investment were wanting, such
accumulations of gold and jewels were by no means rare; there are at this
day Roman families perishing of hunger, though possessed of nearly a
million in diamonds and jewels, handed down by entail, and which they
cannot touch." Edmond thought he was in a dream--he wavered between
incredulity and joy.
have only kept this secret so long from you," continued Faria,
"that I might test your character, and then surprise you. Had we
escaped before my attack of catalepsy, I should have conducted you to
Monte Cristo; now," he added, with a sigh, "it is you who will
conduct me thither. Well, Dantès, you do not thank me?"
treasure belongs to you, my dear friend," replied Dantès, "and to you only. I have
no right to it. I am no relation of yours."
are my son, Dantès,"
exclaimed the old man. "You are the child of my captivity. My
profession condemns me to celibacy. God has sent you to me to console, at
one and the same time, the man who could not be a father, and the prisoner
who could not get free." And Faria extended the arm of which alone
the use remained to him to the young man who threw himself upon his neck