Dantes keeps up his ruse on the small ship, which is called the Jeune-Amelie, and tells nothing of his background to the captain and the men, insisting that he really is a Maltese sailor. They put in at Leghorn, and Dantes goes immediately to a barber’s shop and has his long hair and long beard shaved. He looks in a mirror for the first time in fourteen years—for it is now, he has learned, 1829—and sees that he is now a man with an intensity of gaze that seems to echo his strange and horrible circumstances of imprisonment.
Dantes, having been unable to see himself in any kind of reflection for years, has very little sense of how his body has changed, or of the self-regard that comes naturally from living in the modern world. It is no exaggeration to say that Dantes is reborn here – he is able to look at himself afresh, and to determine what kind of person he wants to be in this second life after prison.
Dantes realizes quickly that the Jeune-Amelie is a ship for smugglers, and after they leave Leghorn, full of semi-legal goods on which they’ve paid no tariffs or taxes, they head to other ports around the Mediterranean. In one, they get into a small skirmish with the Customs officers, who realize they are attempting to leave without paying the port’s tax; a gunfight breaks out as the Jeune-Amelie makes its way for open waters, and Dantes is hit in the shoulder (though he sustains only a minor wound). Jacopo, a sailor who has befriend Dantes, tends to him, and Dantes notices that, when one Customs officer falls dead in the small battle, he (Dantes) “feels nothing.” In his desire for treasure and vengeance, he has left prison a changed man, with a “heart of stone.”
Dantes remarks to himself that the murder of another man does nothing to him – does not cause him pain or anguish. Dantes will use this hard-heartedness to fuel his path of revenge, which he is soon to begin. This is also another example of the extent to which prison has changed Dantes. It has rendered him a different person, with a rougher physical demeanor and a colder, more calculating mind. Although the men around Dantes don’t notice this, Dantes certainly feels that a change has occurred in himself.
Dantes continues in his work for the captain of the Jeune-Amelie for three months. Back in a bar in Leghorn, this captain tells Dantes that a shipment they’ve just taken on of Turkish cloths is so valuable that they’ll need to be extra-careful with it and stash it somewhere safe and away from prying eyes. The captain suggests the island of Monte Cristo, and Dantes’ eyes light up—he realizes this is his chance to stop on the island and find out the path to the Abbe’s treasure. Dantes nevertheless hides his emotions and agrees to the captain’s plan. The next night, they head for Monte Cristo.
This is another instance of coincidence and good fortune, for Dantes of course wants to go to Monte Cristo, but also doesn’t want to be too obvious about his desire for fear of eliciting suspicion from the other sailors. This gives the smugglers an opportunity to go to the island together, and Dantes can then peel off from the group and see if the Abbe’s stories, so long in Dantes’ mind, are indeed true.