In another part of town, a very different betrothal feast is taking place. This feast is in honor of an aristocratic couple: the young daughter of the Marquis of Saint-Méran and her fiancé, Gérard de Villefort, the deputy public prosecutor of Marseilles. Villefort, we learn during the course of the lunch conversation, is the son of a prominent Bonapartist. In the wake of Napoleon’s defeat and the subsequent reinstatement of King Louis XVIII, Villefort, an ambitious young man, has decided to ally himself with the royalists. He renounces his father and his father’s politics, and swears to the assembled guests that he will brutally punish any Bonapartist sympathizer who falls into his hands. The betrothal feast is interrupted when Villefort is called away to deal with a Bonapartist plot that has just been uncovered.
After dismissing Morrel’s efforts to intercede on his employee’s behalf, Villefort enters his office and finds the accused plotter, Edmond Dantès. He confronts Dantès with the allegations against him. Dantès admits that he is carrying a letter to Paris and that the letter was entrusted to him by Napoleon. He pleads innocent, however, to any political involvement, explaining that he is merely carrying out the dying wish of his ship’s captain. Dantès announces that he has no opinions other than his love for his father, his love for Mercédès, and his admiration for Monsieur Morrel.
Villefort takes a liking to Dantès’s open, sincere character and is planning to let him go free until Dantès unwittingly lets slip the name of the man to whom the Bonapartist letter is addressed. The intended recipient is a man named Noirtier—Villefort’s father. Terrified that word of his father’s treasonous activities could leak out and damage his family name, Villefort decides that he must send Dantès away forever.
Villefort has Dantès locked away in the Château d’If, a notorious prison reserved for the most dangerous political prisoners. There, Dantès demands to see the governor and violently threatens the guard when he is refused this privilege. As punishment, Dantès is sent down into the dungeon, where the insane prisoners are kept. The guard tells Dantès about one particular prisoner in the dungeon, a man who constantly promises the guards millions of francs in exchange for his liberation.
Villefort returns to his fiancée’s home and announces that he must leave for Paris. He confides to his father-in-law that if he can only reach the king in time, his fortune will be made. On his way out, Villefort encounters Mercédès, who is seeking information about Dantès. Faced with the fact that he is destroying an innocent man’s happiness for the sake of his own ambitions, Villefort is seized with agonizing regret.
Villefort rushes to Paris to tell King Louis XVIII of the schemes contained in the letter Dantès was carrying. He informs the king that there is a conspiracy afoot to bring Napoleon back to power.