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    Chapter 15

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    Chapter 15
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    CHAPTER 15
    Number 34 and Number 27.

    Dantes passed through all the stages of torture natural to
    prisoners in suspense. He was sustained at first by that
    pride of conscious innocence which is the sequence to hope;
    then he began to doubt his own innocence, which justified in
    some measure the governor's belief in his mental alienation;
    and then, relaxing his sentiment of pride, he addressed his
    supplications, not to God, but to man. God is always the
    last resource. Unfortunates, who ought to begin with God, do
    not have any hope in him till they have exhausted all other
    means of deliverance.

    Dantes asked to be removed from his present dungeon into
    another; for a change, however disadvantageous, was still a
    change, and would afford him some amusement. He entreated to
    be allowed to walk about, to have fresh air, books, and
    writing materials. His requests were not granted, but he
    went on asking all the same. He accustomed himself to
    speaking to the new jailer, although the latter was, if
    possible, more taciturn than the old one; but still, to
    speak to a man, even though mute, was something. Dantes
    spoke for the sake of hearing his own voice; he had tried to
    speak when alone, but the sound of his voice terrified him.
    Often, before his captivity, Dantes, mind had revolted at
    the idea of assemblages of prisoners, made up of thieves,
    vagabonds, and murderers. He now wished to be amongst them,
    in order to see some other face besides that of his jailer;
    he sighed for the galleys, with the infamous costume, the
    chain, and the brand on the shoulder. The galley-slaves
    breathed the fresh air of heaven, and saw each other. They
    were very happy. He besought the jailer one day to let him
    have a companion, were it even the mad abbe.

    The jailer, though rough and hardened by the constant sight
    of so much suffering, was yet a man. At the bottom of his
    heart he had often had a feeling of pity for this unhappy
    young man who suffered so; and he laid the request of number
    34 before the governor; but the latter sapiently imagined
    that Dantes wished to conspire or attempt an escape, and
    refused his request. Dantes had exhausted all human
    resources, and he then turned to God.

    All the pious ideas that had been so long forgotten,
    returned; he recollected the prayers his mother had taught
    him, and discovered a new meaning in every word; for in
    prosperity prayers seem but a mere medley of words, until
    misfortune comes and the unhappy sufferer first understands
    the meaning of the sublime language in which he invokes the
    pity of heaven! He prayed, and prayed aloud, no longer
    terrified at the sound of his own voice, for he fell into a
    sort of ecstasy. He laid every action of his life before the
    Almighty, proposed tasks to accomplish, and at the end of
    every prayer introduced the entreaty oftener addressed to
    man than to God: "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive
    them that trespass against us." Yet in spite of his earnest
    prayers, Dantes remained a prisoner.

    Then gloom settled heavily upon him. Dantes was a man of
    great simplicity of thought, and without education; he could
    not, therefore, in the solitude of his dungeon, traverse in
    mental vision the history of the ages, bring to life the
    nations that had perished, and rebuild the ancient cities so
    vast and stupendous in the light of the imagination, and
    that pass before the eye glowing with celestial colors in
    Martin's Babylonian pictures. He could not do this, he whose
    past life was so short, whose present so melancholy, and his
    future so doubtful. Nineteen years of light to reflect upon
    in eternal darkness! No distraction could come to his aid;
    his energetic spirit, that would have exalted in thus
    revisiting the past, was imprisoned like an eagle in a cage.
    He clung to one idea -- that of his happiness, destroyed,
    without apparent cause, by an unheard-of fatality; he
    considered and reconsidered this idea, devoured it (so to
    speak), as the implacable Ugolino devours the skull of
    Archbishop Roger in the Inferno of Dante.

    Rage supplanted religious fervor. Dantes uttered blasphemies
    that made his jailer recoil with horror, dashed himself
    furiously against the walls of his prison, wreaked his anger
    upon everything, and chiefly upon himself, so that the least
    thing, -- a grain of sand, a straw, or a breath of air that
    annoyed him, led to paroxysms of fury. Then the letter that
    Villefort had showed to him recurred to his mind, and every
    line gleamed forth in fiery letters on the wall like the
    mene tekel upharsin of Belshazzar. He told himself that it
    was the enmity of man, and not the vengeance of heaven, that
    had thus plunged him into the deepest misery. He consigned
    his unknown persecutors to the most horrible tortures he
    could imagine, and found them all insufficient, because
    after torture came death, and after death, if not repose, at
    least the boon of unconsciousness.

    By dint of constantly dwelling on the idea that tranquillity
    was death, and if punishment were the end in view other
    tortures than death must be invented, he began to reflect on
    suicide. Unhappy he, who, on the brink of misfortune, broods
    over ideas like these!

    Before him is a dead sea that stretches in azure calm before
    the eye; but he who unwarily ventures within its embrace
    finds himself struggling with a monster that would drag him
    down to perdition. Once thus ensnared, unless the protecting
    hand of God snatch him thence, all is over, and his
    struggles but tend to hasten his destruction. This state of
    mental anguish is, however, less terrible than the
    sufferings that precede or the punishment that possibly will
    follow. There is a sort of consolation at the contemplation
    of the yawning abyss, at the bottom of which lie darkness
    and obscurity.

    Edmond found some solace in these ideas. All his sorrows,
    all his sufferings, with their train of gloomy spectres,
    fled from his cell when the angel of death seemed about to
    enter. Dantes reviewed his past life with composure, and,
    looking forward with terror to his future existence, chose
    that middle line that seemed to afford him a refuge.

    "Sometimes," said he, "in my voyages, when I was a man and
    commanded other men, I have seen the heavens overcast, the
    sea rage and foam, the storm arise, and, like a monstrous
    bird, beating the two horizons with its wings. Then I felt
    that my vessel was a vain refuge, that trembled and shook
    before the tempest. Soon the fury of the waves and the sight
    of the sharp rocks announced the approach of death, and
    death then terrified me, and I used all my skill and
    intelligence as a man and a sailor to struggle against the
    wrath of God. But I did so because I was happy, because I
    had not courted death, because to be cast upon a bed of
    rocks and seaweed seemed terrible, because I was unwilling
    that I, a creature made for the service of God, should serve
    for food to the gulls and ravens. But now it is different; I
    have lost all that bound me to life, death smiles and
    invites me to repose; I die after my own manner, I die
    exhausted and broken-spirited, as I fall asleep when I have
    paced three thousand times round my cell."

    No sooner had this idea taken possession of him than he
    became more composed, arranged his couch to the best of his
    power, ate little and slept less, and found existence almost
    supportable, because he felt that he could throw it off at
    pleasure, like a worn-out garment. Two methods of
    self-destruction were at his disposal. He could hang himself
    with his handkerchief to the window bars, or refuse food and
    die of starvation. But the first was repugnant to him.
    Dantes had always entertained the greatest horror of
    pirates, who are hung up to the yard-arm; he would not die
    by what seemed an infamous death. He resolved to adopt the
    second, and began that day to carry out his resolve. Nearly
    four years had passed away; at the end of the second he had
    ceased to mark the lapse of time.

    Dantes said, "I wish to die," and had chosen the manner of
    his death, and fearful of changing his mind, he had taken an
    oath to die. "When my morning and evening meals are
    brought," thought he, "I will cast them out of the window,
    and they will think that I have eaten them."

    He kept his word; twice a day he cast out, through the
    barred aperture, the provisions his jailer brought him -- at
    first gayly, then with deliberation, and at last with
    regret. Nothing but the recollection of his oath gave him
    strength to proceed. Hunger made viands once repugnant, now
    acceptable; he held the plate in his hand for an hour at a
    time, and gazed thoughtfully at the morsel of bad meat, of
    tainted fish, of black and mouldy bread. It was the last
    yearning for life contending with the resolution of despair;
    then his dungeon seemed less sombre, his prospects less
    desperate. He was still young -- he was only four or five
    and twenty -- he had nearly fifty years to live. What
    unforseen events might not open his prison door, and restore
    him to liberty? Then he raised to his lips the repast that,
    like a voluntary Tantalus, he refused himself; but he
    thought of his oath, and he would not break it. He persisted
    until, at last, he had not sufficient strength to rise and
    cast his supper out of the loophole. The next morning he
    could not see or hear; the jailer feared he was dangerously
    ill. Edmond hoped he was dying.

    Thus the day passed away. Edmond felt a sort of stupor
    creeping over him which brought with it a feeling almost of
    content; the gnawing pain at his stomach had ceased; his
    thirst had abated; when he closed his eyes he saw myriads of
    lights dancing before them like the will-o'-the-wisps that
    play about the marshes. It was the twilight of that
    mysterious country called Death!

    Suddenly, about nine o'clock in the evening, Edmond heard a
    hollow sound in the wall against which he was lying.

    So many loathsome animals inhabited the prison, that their
    noise did not, in general, awake him; but whether abstinence
    had quickened his faculties, or whether the noise was really
    louder than usual, Edmond raised his head and listened. It
    was a continual scratching, as if made by a huge claw, a
    powerful tooth, or some iron instrument attacking the

    Although weakened, the young man's brain instantly responded
    to the idea that haunts all prisoners -- liberty! It seemed
    to him that heaven had at length taken pity on him, and had
    sent this noise to warn him on the very brink of the abyss.
    Perhaps one of those beloved ones he had so often thought of
    was thinking of him, and striving to diminish the distance
    that separated them.

    No, no, doubtless he was deceived, and it was but one of
    those dreams that forerun death!

    Edmond still heard the sound. It lasted nearly three hours;
    he then heard a noise of something falling, and all was

    Some hours afterwards it began again, nearer and more
    distinct. Edmond was intensely interested. Suddenly the
    jailer entered.

    For a week since he had resolved to die, and during the four
    days that he had been carrying out his purpose, Edmond had
    not spoken to the attendant, had not answered him when he
    inquired what was the matter with him, and turned his face
    to the wall when he looked too curiously at him; but now the
    jailer might hear the noise and put an end to it, and so
    destroy a ray of something like hope that soothed his last

    The jailer brought him his breakfast. Dantes raised himself
    up and began to talk about everything; about the bad quality
    of the food, about the coldness of his dungeon, grumbling
    and complaining, in order to have an excuse for speaking
    louder, and wearying the patience of his jailer, who out of
    kindness of heart had brought broth and white bread for his

    Fortunately, he fancied that Dantes was delirious; and
    placing the food on the rickety table, he withdrew. Edmond
    listened, and the sound became more and more distinct.

    "There can be no doubt about it," thought he; "it is some
    prisoner who is striving to obtain his freedom. Oh, if I
    were only there to help him!" Suddenly another idea took
    possession of his mind, so used to misfortune, that it was
    scarcely capable of hope -- the idea that the noise was made
    by workmen the governor had ordered to repair the
    neighboring dungeon.

    It was easy to ascertain this; but how could he risk the
    question? It was easy to call his jailer's attention to the
    noise, and watch his countenance as he listened; but might
    he not by this means destroy hopes far more important than
    the short-lived satisfaction of his own curiosity?
    Unfortunately, Edmond's brain was still so feeble that he
    could not bend his thoughts to anything in particular.

    He saw but one means of restoring lucidity and clearness to
    his judgment. He turned his eyes towards the soup which the
    jailer had brought, rose, staggered towards it, raised the
    vessel to his lips, and drank off the contents with a
    feeling of indescribable pleasure. He had often heard that
    shipwrecked persons had died through having eagerly devoured
    too much food. Edmond replaced on the table the bread he was
    about to devour, and returned to his couch -- he did not
    wish to die. He soon felt that his ideas became again
    collected -- he could think, and strengthen his thoughts by
    reasoning. Then he said to himself, "I must put this to the
    test, but without compromising anybody. If it is a workman,
    I need but knock against the wall, and he will cease to
    work, in order to find out who is knocking, and why he does
    so; but as his occupation is sanctioned by the governor, he
    will soon resume it. If, on the contrary, it is a prisoner,
    the noise I make will alarm him, he will cease, and not
    begin again until he thinks every one is asleep."

    Edmond rose again, but this time his legs did not tremble,
    and his sight was clear; he went to a corner of his dungeon,
    detached a stone, and with it knocked against the wall where
    the sound came. He struck thrice. At the first blow the
    sound ceased, as if by magic.

    Edmond listened intently; an hour passed, two hours passed,
    and no sound was heard from the wall -- all was silent

    Full of hope, Edmond swallowed a few mouthfuls of bread and
    water, and, thanks to the vigor of his constitution, found
    himself well-nigh recovered.

    The day passed away in utter silence -- night came without
    recurrence of the noise.

    "It is a prisoner," said Edmond joyfully. The night passed
    in perfect silence. Edmond did not close his eyes.

    In the morning the jailer brought him fresh provisions -- he
    had already devoured those of the previous day; he ate these
    listening anxiously for the sound, walking round and round
    his cell, shaking the iron bars of the loophole, restoring
    vigor and agility to his limbs by exercise, and so preparing
    himself for his future destiny. At intervals he listened to
    learn if the noise had not begun again, and grew impatient
    at the prudence of the prisoner, who did not guess he had
    been disturbed by a captive as anxious for liberty as

    Three days passed -- seventy-two long tedious hours which he
    counted off by minutes!

    At length one evening, as the jailer was visiting him for
    the last time that night, Dantes, with his ear for the
    hundredth time at the wall, fancied he heard an almost
    imperceptible movement among the stones. He moved away,
    walked up and down his cell to collect his thoughts, and
    then went back and listened.

    The matter was no longer doubtful. Something was at work on
    the other side of the wall; the prisoner had discovered the
    danger, and had substituted a lever for a chisel.

    Encouraged by this discovery, Edmond determined to assist
    the indefatigable laborer. He began by moving his bed, and
    looked around for anything with which he could pierce the
    wall, penetrate the moist cement, and displace a stone.

    He saw nothing, he had no knife or sharp instrument, the
    window grating was of iron, but he had too often assured
    himself of its solidity. All his furniture consisted of a
    bed, a chair, a table, a pail, and a jug. The bed had iron
    clamps, but they were screwed to the wood, and it would have
    required a screw-driver to take them off. The table and
    chair had nothing, the pail had once possessed a handle, but
    that had been removed.

    Dantes had but one resource, which was to break the jug, and
    with one of the sharp fragments attack the wall. He let the
    jug fall on the floor, and it broke in pieces.

    Dantes concealed two or three of the sharpest fragments in
    his bed, leaving the rest on the floor. The breaking of his
    jug was too natural an accident to excite suspicion. Edmond
    had all the night to work in, but in the darkness he could
    not do much, and he soon felt that he was working against
    something very hard; he pushed back his bed, and waited for

    All night he heard the subterranean workman, who continued
    to mine his way. Day came, the jailer entered. Dantes told
    him that the jug had fallen from his hands while he was
    drinking, and the jailer went grumblingly to fetch another,
    without giving himself the trouble to remove the fragments
    of the broken one. He returned speedily, advised the
    prisoner to be more careful, and departed.

    Dantes heard joyfully the key grate in the lock; he listened
    until the sound of steps died away, and then, hastily
    displacing his bed, saw by the faint light that penetrated
    into his cell, that he had labored uselessly the previous
    evening in attacking the stone instead of removing the
    plaster that surrounded it.

    The damp had rendered it friable, and Dantes was able to
    break it off -- in small morsels, it is true, but at the end
    of half an hour he had scraped off a handful; a
    mathematician might have calculated that in two years,
    supposing that the rock was not encountered, a passage
    twenty feet long and two feet broad, might be formed.

    The prisoner reproached himself with not having thus
    employed the hours he had passed in vain hopes, prayer, and
    despondency. During the six years that he had been
    imprisoned, what might he not have accomplished?

    In three days he had succeeded, with the utmost precaution,
    in removing the cement, and exposing the stone-work. The
    wall was built of rough stones, among which, to give
    strength to the structure, blocks of hewn stone were at
    intervals imbedded. It was one of these he had uncovered,
    and which he must remove from its socket.

    Dantes strove to do this with his nails, but they were too
    weak. The fragments of the jug broke, and after an hour of
    useless toil, he paused.

    Was he to be thus stopped at the beginning, and was he to
    wait inactive until his fellow workman had completed his
    task? Suddenly an idea occurred to him -- he smiled, and the
    perspiration dried on his forehead.

    The jailer always brought Dantes' soup in an iron saucepan;
    this saucepan contained soup for both prisoners, for Dantes
    had noticed that it was either quite full, or half empty,
    according as the turnkey gave it to him or to his companion

    The handle of this saucepan was of iron; Dantes would have
    given ten years of his life in exchange for it.

    The jailer was accustomed to pour the contents of the
    saucepan into Dantes' plate, and Dantes, after eating his
    soup with a wooden spoon, washed the plate, which thus
    served for every day. Now when evening came Dantes put his
    plate on the ground near the door; the jailer, as he
    entered, stepped on it and broke it.

    This time he could not blame Dantes. He was wrong to leave
    it there, but the jailer was wrong not to have looked before

    The jailer, therefore, only grumbled. Then he looked about
    for something to pour the soup into; Dantes' entire dinner
    service consisted of one plate -- there was no alternative.

    "Leave the saucepan," said Dantes; "you can take it away
    when you bring me my breakfast." This advice was to the
    jailer's taste, as it spared him the necessity of making
    another trip. He left the saucepan.

    Dantes was beside himself with joy. He rapidly devoured his
    food, and after waiting an hour, lest the jailer should
    change his mind and return, he removed his bed, took the
    handle of the saucepan, inserted the point between the hewn
    stone and rough stones of the wall, and employed it as a
    lever. A slight oscillation showed Dantes that all went
    well. At the end of an hour the stone was extricated from
    the wall, leaving a cavity a foot and a half in diameter.

    Dantes carefully collected the plaster, carried it into the
    corner of his cell, and covered it with earth. Then, wishing
    to make the best use of his time while he had the means of
    labor, he continued to work without ceasing. At the dawn of
    day he replaced the stone, pushed his bed against the wall,
    and lay down. The breakfast consisted of a piece of bread;
    the jailer entered and placed the bread on the table.

    "Well, don't you intend to bring me another plate?" said

    "No," replied the turnkey; "you destroy everything. First
    you break your jug, then you make me break your plate; if
    all the prisoners followed your example, the government
    would be ruined. I shall leave you the saucepan, and pour
    your soup into that. So for the future I hope you will not
    be so destructive."

    Dantes raised his eyes to heaven and clasped his hands
    beneath the coverlet. He felt more gratitude for the
    possession of this piece of iron than he had ever felt for
    anything. He had noticed, however, that the prisoner on the
    other side had ceased to labor; no matter, this was a
    greater reason for proceeding -- if his neighbor would not
    come to him, he would go to his neighbor. All day he toiled
    on untiringly, and by the evening he had succeeded in
    extracting ten handfuls of plaster and fragments of stone.
    When the hour for his jailer's visit arrived, Dantes
    straightened the handle of the saucepan as well as he could,
    and placed it in its accustomed place. The turnkey poured
    his ration of soup into it, together with the fish -- for
    thrice a week the prisoners were deprived of meat. This
    would have been a method of reckoning time, had not Dantes
    long ceased to do so. Having poured out the soup, the
    turnkey retired. Dantes wished to ascertain whether his
    neighbor had really ceased to work. He listened -- all was
    silent, as it had been for the last three days. Dantes
    sighed; it was evident that his neighbor distrusted him.
    However, he toiled on all the night without being
    discouraged; but after two or three hours he encountered an
    obstacle. The iron made no impression, but met with a smooth
    surface; Dantes touched it, and found that it was a beam.
    This beam crossed, or rather blocked up, the hole Dantes had
    made; it was necessary, therefore, to dig above or under it.
    The unhappy young man had not thought of this. "O my God, my
    God!" murmured he, "I have so earnestly prayed to you, that
    I hoped my prayers had been heard. After having deprived me
    of my liberty, after having deprived me of death, after
    having recalled me to existence, my God, have pity on me,
    and do not let me die in despair!"

    "Who talks of God and despair at the same time?" said a
    voice that seemed to come from beneath the earth, and,
    deadened by the distance, sounded hollow and sepulchral in
    the young man's ears. Edmond's hair stood on end, and he
    rose to his knees.

    "Ah," said he, "I hear a human voice." Edmond had not heard
    any one speak save his jailer for four or five years; and a
    jailer is no man to a prisoner -- he is a living door, a
    barrier of flesh and blood adding strength to restraints of
    oak and iron.

    "In the name of heaven," cried Dantes, "speak again, though
    the sound of your voice terrifies me. Who are you?"

    "Who are you?" said the voice.

    "An unhappy prisoner," replied Dantes, who made no
    hesitation in answering.

    "Of what country?"

    "A Frenchman."

    "Your name?"

    "Edmond Dantes."

    "Your profession?"

    "A sailor."

    "How long have you been here?"

    "Since the 28th of February, 1815."

    "Your crime?"

    "I am innocent."

    "But of what are you accused?"

    "Of having conspired to aid the emperor's return."

    "What! For the emperor's return? -- the emperor is no longer
    on the throne, then?"

    "He abdicated at Fontainebleau in 1814, and was sent to the
    Island of Elba. But how long have you been here that you are
    ignorant of all this?"

    "Since 1811."

    Dantes shuddered; this man had been four years longer than
    himself in prison.

    "Do not dig any more," said the voice; "only tell me how
    high up is your excavation?"

    "On a level with the floor."

    "How is it concealed?"

    "Behind my bed."

    "Has your bed been moved since you have been a prisoner?"


    "What does your chamber open on?"

    "A corridor."

    "And the corridor?"

    "On a court."

    "Alas!" murmured the voice.

    "Oh, what is the matter?" cried Dantes.

    "I have made a mistake owing to an error in my plans. I took
    the wrong angle, and have come out fifteen feet from where I
    intended. I took the wall you are mining for the outer wall
    of the fortress."

    "But then you would be close to the sea?"

    "That is what I hoped."

    "And supposing you had succeeded?"

    "I should have thrown myself into the sea, gained one of the
    islands near here -- the Isle de Daume or the Isle de
    Tiboulen -- and then I should have been safe."

    "Could you have swum so far?"

    "Heaven would have given me strength; but now all is lost."


    "Yes; stop up your excavation carefully, do not work any
    more, and wait until you hear from me."

    "Tell me, at least, who you are?"

    "I am -- I am No. 27."

    "You mistrust me, then," said Dantes. Edmond fancied he
    heard a bitter laugh resounding from the depths.

    "Oh, I am a Christian," cried Dantes, guessing instinctively
    that this man meant to abandon him. "I swear to you by him
    who died for us that naught shall induce me to breathe one
    syllable to my jailers; but I conjure you do not abandon me.
    If you do, I swear to you, for I have got to the end of my
    strength, that I will dash my brains out against the wall,
    and you will have my death to reproach yourself with."

    "How old are you? Your voice is that of a young man."

    "I do not know my age, for I have not counted the years I
    have been here. All I do know is, that I was just nineteen
    when I was arrested, the 28th of February, 1815."

    "Not quite twenty-six!" murmured the voice; "at that age he
    cannot be a traitor."

    "Oh, no, no," cried Dantes. "I swear to you again, rather
    than betray you, I would allow myself to be hacked in

    "You have done well to speak to me, and ask for my
    assistance, for I was about to form another plan, and leave
    you; but your age reassures me. I will not forget you.

    "How long?"

    "I must calculate our chances; I will give you the signal."

    "But you will not leave me; you will come to me, or you will
    let me come to you. We will escape, and if we cannot escape
    we will talk; you of those whom you love, and I of those
    whom I love. You must love somebody?"

    "No, I am alone in the world."

    "Then you will love me. If you are young, I will be your
    comrade; if you are old, I will be your son. I have a father
    who is seventy if he yet lives; I only love him and a young
    girl called Mercedes. My father has not yet forgotten me, I
    am sure, but God alone knows if she loves me still; I shall
    love you as I loved my father."

    "It is well," returned the voice; "to-morrow."

    These few words were uttered with an accent that left no
    doubt of his sincerity; Dantes rose, dispersed the fragments
    with the same precaution as before, and pushed his bed back
    against the wall. He then gave himself up to his happiness.
    He would no longer be alone. He was, perhaps, about to
    regain his liberty; at the worst, he would have a companion,
    and captivity that is shared is but half captivity. Plaints
    made in common are almost prayers, and prayers where two or
    three are gathered together invoke the mercy of heaven.

    All day Dantes walked up and down his cell. He sat down
    occasionally on his bed, pressing his hand on his heart. At
    the slightest noise he bounded towards the door. Once or
    twice the thought crossed his mind that he might be
    separated from this unknown, whom he loved already; and then
    his mind was made up -- when the jailer moved his bed and
    stooped to examine the opening, he would kill him with his
    water jug. He would be condemned to die, but he was about to
    die of grief and despair when this miraculous noise recalled
    him to life.

    The jailer came in the evening. Dantes was on his bed. It
    seemed to him that thus he better guarded the unfinished
    opening. Doubtless there was a strange expression in his
    eyes, for the jailer said, "Come, are you going mad again?"

    Dantes did not answer; he feared that the emotion of his
    voice would betray him. The jailer went away shaking his
    head. Night came; Dantes hoped that his neighbor would
    profit by the silence to address him, but he was mistaken.
    The next morning, however, just as he removed his bed from
    the wall, he heard three knocks; he threw himself on his

    "Is it you?" said he; "I am here."

    "Is your jailer gone?"

    "Yes," said Dantes; "he will not return until the evening;
    so that we have twelve hours before us."

    "I can work, then?" said the voice.

    "Oh, yes, yes; this instant, I entreat you."

    In a moment that part of the floor on which Dantes was
    resting his two hands, as he knelt with his head in the
    opening, suddenly gave way; he drew back smartly, while a
    mass of stones and earth disappeared in a hole that opened
    beneath the aperture he himself had formed. Then from the
    bottom of this passage, the depth of which it was impossible
    to measure, he saw appear, first the head, then the
    shoulders, and lastly the body of a man, who sprang lightly
    into his cell.
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