Disguised as an Italian priest and going by the name of Abbé Busoni, Dantès travels to the inn owned by Caderousse and his sickly wife. He finds the couple poverty-stricken. Pretending to be the executor of Dantès’s will, he explains that Dantès came into the possession of a large diamond while in prison. He adds that, as his dying wish, Dantès wanted the diamond’s worth divided among the only five people he ever loved: his father, Caderousse, Danglars, Fernand, and Mercédès.
Seeing his chance to secure the whole diamond for himself, Caderousse reveals the events behinds Dantès’s incarceration, confirming what Abbé Faria had already deduced. Caderousse states that he has lived in a torment of regret ever since Dantès was incarcerated. Dantès finds this display of repentance and guilt convincing, and he declares that Caderousse is Dantès’s only true friend. He gives Caderousse the entire diamond.
Dantès learns from Caderousse what has become of the others. Danglars went to work for a Spanish banking house and ended up a millionaire; he is now one of the richest and most powerful men in Paris. Fernand has also become rich and powerful, though the circumstances of how he acquired his fortune are mysterious. Fernand returned wealthy from his tour of duty as a soldier in Greece and married Mercédès eighteen months after Dantès’s imprisonment began. Fernand and Mercédès now live together in Paris, believing Dantès to be dead.
Caderousse also explains that Dantès’s father, Louis, starved himself to death out of grief over the loss of his son. Both Morrel and Mercédès offered many times to take the old man into their homes and care for him, but he refused every time. Morrel tried to give Louis money, and before the old man’s death, he left a red silk purse filled with gold on his mantel. Caderousse now has this red silk purse in his possession, and Dantès asks to have it. Caderousse explains that Morrel is now on the verge of financial ruin: all his ships except the Pharaon have sunk, and the Pharaon is late coming into port. If the Pharaon has sunk, Morrel will be unable to pay his creditors and will be a ruined man. Caderousse reflects that the good are always punished and the wicked rewarded. Dantès, in the guise of the priest, promises Caderousse that this is not the case.
Next, disguised as an English representative of the investment firm Thomson and French, Dantès goes to visit the mayor of Marseilles, who has a large investment in Morrel’s shipping business. The mayor redirects Dantès to the inspector of prisons, who has an even larger stake in Morrel’s firm. Dantès buys all of the prison inspector’s stakes for their full price. He then asks to see the prison records for Abbé Faria, claiming to have once been his pupil. While looking at the records, Dantès secretly turns to his own prison documents. He pockets the letter of accusation written by Danglars and delivered by Fernand, and confirms the fact that Villefort ordered him locked away for life.
Still disguised as the representative of Thomson and French, Dantès next pays a visit to Morrel. Morrel is in a state of extreme anxiety over the fact that his once bustling shipping firm is now crumbling into ruin. Only two employees remain on his payroll, including a twenty-three-year-old clerk, Emmanuel Herbaut, who is in love with Morrel’s daughter, Julie. Morrel’s payments to investors are due within days, but he has no money to cover them. If the Pharaon does not arrive safely, he will be unable to honor his debts for the first time in his life, and his business and his honor will be permanently ruined.
The terrible news arrives while Dantès is still in Morrel’s office: the Pharaon has been lost. Dantès, who now owns a significant percentage of the debt Morrel owes, grants the devastated man a reprieve. He tells Morrel that he can have an extra three months to find the money to make the payment. On his way out of the building, Dantès pulls Julie aside and makes her promise to follow any instructions she receives from a man calling himself “Sinbad the Sailor.”
The three months draw to a close, and Morrel still has very little money. He decides that he must take his own life, unable to bear the shame of breaking his obligation to creditors. On the day that his debt is due, Morrel confides his plan to his son, Maximilian, and his son understands, granting his approval. As Morrel and Maximilian share this morbid discussion, Julie receives a letter from Sinbad the Sailor. She follows the instructions in the letter and finds the red silk purse her father once gave to Louis Dantès. It is filled with Morrel’s debt notes, which are marked as paid. The purse also contains a tremendous diamond tagged for use as Julie’s dowry, enabling her to marry Emmanuel.
Julie bursts in with this miraculous find just as her father cocks his gun to take his own life. They hear an uproar from outside. A ship built and painted to look exactly like the Pharaon is pulling into the port, laden with the same cargo that the original had been carrying when it was lost at sea. Amid this happy scene, Dantès boards his yacht and departs Marseilles.
Dantès’s speech in these chapters makes it clear that he truly considers himself an agent of Providence rather than a man merely carrying out a good cause. He feels qualified to tell Caderousse that “God may seem sometimes to forget for a while, whilst his justice reposes, but there always comes a moment when he remembers.” Here, Dantès implies that the signal that God “remembers,” in this particular case, is that God has given him this vast fortune to use as a tool of reward and punishment. As Dantès departs Marseilles, he reflects, “I have been Heaven’s substitute to recompense the good—now the God of Vengeance yields to me his power to punish the wicked!” In calling himself “Heaven’s substitute,” Dantès could not be more explicit about how he views his role. Given that he clearly considers himself God’s emissary on earth, it is fitting that he chooses to disguise himself as a priest when visiting Caderousse. In some traditions, the priest acts as a direct intermediary between God and man—the same role Dantès sees himself as occupying in his quest for revenge.
Each of Dantès’s various disguises correlates with the role that he plays while assuming that identity. He tends to dress as the Abbé Busoni when he is standing in judgment; thus, he dons the Abbé Busoni disguise when visiting Caderousse, as he must decide whether Caderousse should be rewarded as a friend or punished as an enemy. When engaging in acts of excessive generosity, as he does toward Morrel, Dantès dresses as an Englishman whom we later learn he refers to as Lord Wilmore. Dantès tends to use the name Sinbad the Sailor when acting in a particularly eccentric manner, though he primarily makes use of this name when in Italy. Later, Dantès assumes the name Monte Cristo when acting as an angel of vengeance. Like the God of the Old Testament, who uses a different name to refer to each of his different aspects—his punishing side and his compassionate side, for example—Dantès, a self-appointed emissary of God on earth, also fractures his personality into its various components: judging, rewarding, and punishing. Like God, he assigns each aspect a different identity.
Of all the names Dantès uses, Sinbad the Sailor bears its own original significance, as it is a recognizable name. Sinbad the Sailor is a character in a famous Middle Eastern folktale about a merchant who goes on seven dangerous and fantastical journeys, ultimately ending up enormously wealthy. There are many reasons why Dantès might have chosen this familiar name as one of his aliases. There is the obvious fact that Dantès himself was a sailor during the happy years of his life. Likewise, there is a clear parallel between Sinbad’s seven dangerous voyages leading up to his ultimate wealth and Dantès’s own dangerous journey through prison before the discovery of his treasure.
Another, and more meaningful, possible explanation for this name involves the bookends of the Sinbad story, which focus on a poor porter who envies Sinbad’s wealth and is dissatisfied with his own boring life. By the end of Sinbad’s story, which is filled with horrors and dangers, the porter is convinced his own life is not so bad after all. This change in attitude highlights a central idea in The Count of Monte Cristo that becomes increasingly important as the novel unfolds: the importance of appreciating what one has in life instead of lusting after what one does not have. Each of Dantès’s three enemies betrays him out of greed and ambition, giving in to lust for what he does not have. Danglars betrays Dantès to win the captaincy of the Pharaon, Fernand betrays Dantès to gain Mercédès for himself, and Villefort betrays Dantès to increase his own power. By using the name Sinbad the Sailor, Dantès tacitly rebukes these three men for their shortsighted greed.
The red silk purse, which holds Dantès’s gift to Morrel, serves as a physical symbol of the connection between good deed and reward. First used by Morrel to help save Louis Dantès, the purse is now used to save Morrel in turn, demonstrating that his kindness and generosity toward Louis are being repaid. However, Dantès’s use of the purse actually taints an otherwise pure act of altruism. By using the purse, Dantès reveals that on some level he wants Morrel to recognize him as the savior. We see the purse not merely as a simple symbol of the connection between reward and punishment but as a more complex embodiment of Dantès’s various motives in acting as a benefactor. Dantès has selfless gratitude for Morrel’s kindness but also a selfish desire to be recognized as the author of Morrel’s financial salvation.