The Count of Monte Cristo Chapter 16 Summary
An Italian Scholar
- Edmond hugs his new friend. The man is short, with thick eyebrows and a thick black beard. His clothes are in tatters. He appears to be around 65 years old.
- Before they do anything else, the man sets about cleaning up the cell.
- He picks up the stone Edmond removed and asks why it was cut so crudely; he's surprised that he doesn't have any tools. Edmond is surprised to find that the man does have tools – and what tools he has: a well-crafted file, chisel, pliers, and level.
- He's used the file, he tells Edmond, to dig fifty feet. Still, he's not encouraged by what he sees in Edmond's cell: his only window looks out over a courtyard patrolled by soldiers; he fears that all is lost.
- Edmond asks Number 27 to introduce himself.
- Abbé Faria tells him that he has been imprisoned since 1808 for plotting to unite Italy – the particulars are insanely complicated, so don't worry about them.
- All of Faria's talk of Italy and popes and plots begins to make Edmond think that maybe the abbé is insane after all. He asks the abbé if he has really, after all this planning, abandoned the idea of escaping.
- The abbé tells Edmond that he simply can't go on – not after reaching what he thought was the end of his journey, only to find a whole new challenge.
- Seeing that the abbé had put his heart into his escape attempt, Edmond is inspired: if this man, he thinks, could devote himself to such a task, surely I could too.
- Edmond has an idea. Why don't they dig another tunnel leading under the path in the courtyard, kill the guard, and escape from there?
- The abbé reminds him that such an act would make him guilty of a crime, whereas now he is innocent; Edmond can't argue with this reasoning. Why else hadn't he simply killed his jailer? They must be more patient, he continues, if they want to succeed.
- Edmond asks the abbé how he could have waited so long and so patiently. "I wrote or I studied," he tells Edmond (16.85). Edmond is amazed. Where, he wonders, could you have gotten pens, paper, and ink?
- The abbé tells him that he's made them, and he promises to show them – along with his Treatise on the Prospects for a General Monarchy in Italy – to Edmond when they visit the abbé's cell.
- The abbé goes on to tell him that he once owned thousands of books, that he speaks five living languages, and that he is teaching himself modern Greek using his knowledge of Ancient Greek.
- Edmond is eager to see the abbé's work as soon as possible and, so, they leave immediately for his cell.
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