Maximilien Morrel meets the Count on the island of Monte Cristo, where they had promised to rendezvous. The Count says that all his wealth, over 100 million francs, now belongs to Morrel, but the young man says that this is nothing compared to his love for Valentine, who is gone. At this, the Count says that he will in fact help Morrel die, and gives him some of the hashish he once gave to Franz so long ago. Morrel has a vision of Valentine and believes he is about to die.
The Count has saved his biggest revelations for the very end of the novel. Morrel cannot believe that his fantasy has come true, that his beloved really is alive. Nor can he believe that he is going to be a wealthy man. But the Count has made Morrel’s wishes real, in part to compensate for all the lost wishes Dantes had to suffer, during the imprisonment of his youth.
Maximilien then wakes up, however, and realizes that Valentine is real—she did not die at all, but was whisked away with the help of Haydee, away from France and the prying eyes of her stepmother and mad father. Morrel and Valentine vow to spend their lives together, using the Count’s money as well as they can now that it belongs to them (although they are not quite sure how to spend or even manage all of it).
Of course, for characters who are no longer motivated by revenge, it is difficult even to comprehend how the Count could spend the money he had. So much of that wealth was used to coordinate complex social circumstances on an enormous scale, allowing the Count to influence social life in Paris without being tied directly to the revenge plans that brought down the four plotters.
Watching this scene from afar, the Count turns to Haydee and says that he is going away, and that she is therefore free of her bond of enslavement to him. But Haydee says that she loves the Count, and that she knows he loves her. At this, the Count realizes what he has long thought, deep down, to be true—that he is still a man capable of love. The novel ends with a scene of Maximilien and Valentine, to be wed, heading toward the mainland of France to start their lives again together, and of the Count and Haydee heading off into the sunset, also to be wed and to live happily. When Morrel and Valentine wonder if they will ever see the Count again, they realize they must follow his final message to them: simply, to “hope and wait.”
This is perhaps the single most important motto and message in the novel. Because Young Morrel has waited long enough, he has found a way to achieve true love. Because he was optimistic enough, he suffered what he thought was Valentine’s death and witnessed her return to health. And, on the other side, because the Count has hoped and waited for long enough, he has found a way to structure his own life beyond his plot for revenge. He has found a true love, in Haydee, and they go off to begin that life together, as Morrel and Valentine begin theirs—finding the kind of youthful joy that was stolen from Dantes so long ago. Thus the novel ends on a profoundly positive, cheering note.