Meet us on:
Entire Site
    Try our fun game

    Dueling book covers…may the best design win!

    Random Quote
    "Don't accept your dog's admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful."

    Subscribe to Our Newsletter

    Follow us on Twitter

    Never miss a good book again! Follow Read Print on Twitter

    Chapter 20

    • Rate it:
    • Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5 based on 28 ratings
    • 49 Favorites on Read Print
    Launch Reading Mode Next Chapter
    Chapter 20
    Previous Chapter
    CHAPTER 20
    The Cemetery of the Chateau D'If.

    On the bed, at full length, and faintly illuminated by the
    pale light that came from the window, lay a sack of canvas,
    and under its rude folds was stretched a long and stiffened
    form; it was Faria's last winding-sheet, -- a winding-sheet
    which, as the turnkey said, cost so little. Everything was
    in readiness. A barrier had been placed between Dantes and
    his old friend. No longer could Edmond look into those
    wide-open eyes which had seemed to be penetrating the
    mysteries of death; no longer could he clasp the hand which
    had done so much to make his existence blessed. Faria, the
    beneficent and cheerful companion, with whom he was
    accustomed to live so intimately, no longer breathed. He
    seated himself on the edge of that terrible bed, and fell
    into melancholy and gloomy revery.

    Alone -- he was alone again -- again condemned to silence --
    again face to face with nothingness! Alone! -- never again
    to see the face, never again to hear the voice of the only
    human being who united him to earth! Was not Faria's fate
    the better, after all -- to solve the problem of life at its
    source, even at the risk of horrible suffering? The idea of
    suicide, which his friend had driven away and kept away by
    his cheerful presence, now hovered like a phantom over the
    abbe's dead body.

    "If I could die," he said, "I should go where he goes, and
    should assuredly find him again. But how to die? It is very
    easy," he went on with a smile; "I will remain here, rush on
    the first person that opens the door, strangle him, and then
    they will guillotine me." But excessive grief is like a
    storm at sea, where the frail bark is tossed from the depths
    to the top of the wave. Dantes recoiled from the idea of so
    infamous a death, and passed suddenly from despair to an
    ardent desire for life and liberty.

    "Die? oh, no," he exclaimed -- "not die now, after having
    lived and suffered so long and so much! Die? yes, had I died
    years ago; but now to die would be, indeed, to give way to
    the sarcasm of destiny. No, I want to live; I shall struggle
    to the very last; I will yet win back the happiness of which
    I have been deprived. Before I die I must not forget that I
    have my executioners to punish, and perhaps, too, who knows,
    some friends to reward. Yet they will forget me here, and I
    shall die in my dungeon like Faria." As he said this, he
    became silent and gazed straight before him like one
    overwhelmed with a strange and amazing thought. Suddenly he
    arose, lifted his hand to his brow as if his brain wore
    giddy, paced twice or thrice round the dungeon, and then
    paused abruptly by the bed.

    "Just God!" he muttered, "whence comes this thought? Is it
    from thee? Since none but the dead pass freely from this
    dungeon, let me take the place of the dead!" Without giving
    himself time to reconsider his decision, and, indeed, that
    he might not allow his thoughts to be distracted from his
    desperate resolution, he bent over the appalling shroud,
    opened it with the knife which Faria had made, drew the
    corpse from the sack, and bore it along the tunnel to his
    own chamber, laid it on his couch, tied around its head the
    rag he wore at night around his own, covered it with his
    counterpane, once again kissed the ice-cold brow, and tried
    vainly to close the resisting eyes, which glared horribly,
    turned the head towards the wall, so that the jailer might,
    when he brought the evening meal, believe that he was
    asleep, as was his frequent custom; entered the tunnel
    again, drew the bed against the wall, returned to the other
    cell, took from the hiding-place the needle and thread,
    flung off his rags, that they might feel only naked flesh
    beneath the coarse canvas, and getting inside the sack,
    placed himself in the posture in which the dead body had
    been laid, and sewed up the mouth of the sack from the

    He would have been discovered by the beating of his heart,
    if by any mischance the jailers had entered at that moment.
    Dantes might have waited until the evening visit was over,
    but he was afraid that the governor would change his mind,
    and order the dead body to be removed earlier. In that case
    his last hope would have been destroyed. Now his plans were
    fully made, and this is what he intended to do. If while he
    was being carried out the grave-diggers should discover that
    they were bearing a live instead of a dead body, Dantes did
    not intend to give them time to recognize him, but with a
    sudden cut of the knife, he meant to open the sack from top
    to bottom, and, profiting by their alarm, escape; if they
    tried to catch him, he would use his knife to better

    If they took him to the cemetery and laid him in a grave, he
    would allow himself to be covered with earth, and then, as
    it was night, the grave-diggers could scarcely have turned
    their backs before he would have worked his way through the
    yielding soil and escaped. He hoped that the weight of earth
    would not be so great that he could not overcome it. If he
    was detected in this and the earth proved too heavy, he
    would be stifled, and then -- so much the better, all would
    be over. Dantes had not eaten since the preceding evening,
    but he had not thought of hunger, nor did he think of it
    now. His situation was too precarious to allow him even time
    to reflect on any thought but one.

    The first risk that Dantes ran was, that the jailer, when he
    brought him his supper at seven o'clock, might perceive the
    change that had been made; fortunately, twenty times at
    least, from misanthropy or fatigue, Dantes had received his
    jailer in bed, and then the man placed his bread and soup on
    the table, and went away without saying a word. This time
    the jailer might not be as silent as usual, but speak to
    Dantes, and seeing that he received no reply, go to the bed,
    and thus discover all.

    When seven o'clock came, Dantes' agony really began. His
    hand placed upon his heart was unable to redress its
    throbbings, while, with the other he wiped the perspiration
    from his temples. From time to time chills ran through his
    whole body, and clutched his heart in a grasp of ice. Then
    he thought he was going to die. Yet the hours passed on
    without any unusual disturbance, and Dantes knew that he had
    escaped the first peril. It was a good augury. At length,
    about the hour the governor had appointed, footsteps were
    heard on the stairs. Edmond felt that the moment had
    arrived, summoned up all his courage, held his breath, and
    would have been happy if at the same time he could have
    repressed the throbbing of his veins. The footsteps -- they
    were double -- paused at the door -- and Dantes guessed that
    the two grave-diggers had come to seek him -- this idea was
    soon converted into certainty, when he heard the noise they
    made in putting down the hand-bier. The door opened, and a
    dim light reached Dantes' eyes through the coarse sack that
    covered him; he saw two shadows approach his bed, a third
    remaining at the door with a torch in its hand. The two men,
    approaching the ends of the bed, took the sack by its

    "He's heavy though for an old and thin man," said one, as he
    raised the head.

    "They say every year adds half a pound to the weight of the
    bones," said another, lifting the feet.

    "Have you tied the knot?" inquired the first speaker.

    "What would be the use of carrying so much more weight?" was
    the reply, "I can do that when we get there."

    "Yes, you're right," replied the companion.

    "What's the knot for?" thought Dantes.

    They deposited the supposed corpse on the bier. Edmond
    stiffened himself in order to play the part of a dead man,
    and then the party, lighted by the man with the torch, who
    went first, ascended the stairs. Suddenly he felt the fresh
    and sharp night air, and Dantes knew that the mistral was
    blowing. It was a sensation in which pleasure and pain were
    strangely mingled. The bearers went on for twenty paces,
    then stopped, putting the bier down on the ground. One of
    them went away, and Dantes heard his shoes striking on the

    "Where am I?" he asked himself.

    "Really, he is by no means a light load!" said the other
    bearer, sitting on the edge of the hand-barrow. Dantes'
    first impulse was to escape, but fortunately he did not
    attempt it.

    "Give us a light," said the other bearer, "or I shall never
    find what I am looking for." The man with the torch
    complied, although not asked in the most polite terms.

    "What can he be looking for?" thought Edmond. "The spade,
    perhaps." An exclamation of satisfaction indicated that the
    grave-digger had found the object of his search. "Here it is
    at last," he said, "not without some trouble though."

    "Yes," was the answer, "but it has lost nothing by waiting."

    As he said this, the man came towards Edmond, who heard a
    heavy metallic substance laid down beside him, and at the
    same moment a cord was fastened round his feet with sudden
    and painful violence.

    "Well, have you tied the knot?" inquired the grave-digger,
    who was looking on.

    "Yes, and pretty tight too, I can tell you," was the answer.

    "Move on, then." And the bier was lifted once more, and they

    They advanced fifty paces farther, and then stopped to open
    a door, then went forward again. The noise of the waves
    dashing against the rocks on which the chateau is built,
    reached Dantes' ear distinctly as they went forward.

    "Bad weather!" observed one of the bearers; "not a pleasant
    night for a dip in the sea."

    "Why, yes, the abbe runs a chance of being wet," said the
    other; and then there was a burst of brutal laughter. Dantes
    did not comprehend the jest, but his hair stood erect on his

    "Well, here we are at last," said one of them. "A little
    farther -- a little farther," said the other. "You know very
    well that the last was stopped on his way, dashed on the
    rocks, and the governor told us next day that we were
    careless fellows."

    They ascended five or six more steps, and then Dantes felt
    that they took him, one by the head and the other by the
    heels, and swung him to and fro. "One!" said the
    grave-diggers, "two! three!" And at the same instant Dantes
    felt himself flung into the air like a wounded bird,
    falling, falling, with a rapidity that made his blood
    curdle. Although drawn downwards by the heavy weight which
    hastened his rapid descent, it seemed to him as if the fall
    lasted for a century.

    At last, with a horrible splash, he darted like an arrow
    into the ice-cold water, and as he did so he uttered a
    shrill cry, stifled in a moment by his immersion beneath the

    Dantes had been flung into the sea, and was dragged into its
    depths by a thirty-six pound shot tied to his feet. The sea
    is the cemetery of the Chateau d'If.
    Next Chapter
    Chapter 20
    Previous Chapter
    If you're writing a Alexandre Dumas pere essay and need some advice, post your Alexandre Dumas pere essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

    Top 5 Authors

    Top 5 Books

    Book Status
    Want to read

    Are you sure you want to leave this group?