Dantes climbs back up to the circular, heavy rock he saw the previous day and notes that, on the far horizon, the Jeune-Amelie is only a pinprick, heading in the opposite direction. It is broad daylight, but no one else is around; no one on the neighboring islands, including Elba, can see him. He sets about his work, climbing up to another rock-ledge above the circular rock, and realizing he can use the ram’s horn full of gunpowder, which Jacopo has left with him for hunting, to blow a small hole in the side of the base holding up the heavy circular rock. He does this, and then is able to lever the heavy rock down the hill and into the sea. He is amazed to find, beneath it, a ring that has been clearly installed by a person. He senses that the treasure is beneath this entryway.
The hidden cave on Monte Cristo appears to be a combination of natural and artificial formations. The Spada family, or whoever hid the treasure on the island, has used some features of the land itself, and wed them to features of technical ingenuity to make sure the treasure goes undetected. For Dantes, the technical, man-made elements of the cave are proof that something on this island was in fact put there by other people. This lends more evidence to the existence of the treasure, which Dantes still in part doubts.
Dantes pries open the lid and finds a staircase, but he notes that, despite this evidence of human presence, he must not get too carried away. He reassures himself by saying that, even if the staircase doesn’t lead to the treasure—if, for example, the Borgia family reached the treasure first many centuries ago—he will still have participated in a grand adventure. Thus, telling himself not to depend on the presence of the 14 million francs, he begins the descent into the staircase and the cave that has been carved into the center of the island.
With each successive step, Dantes believes, more and more strongly that there really is a treasure hidden on the island. But he does not want to get too excited about this discovery, lest he be disappointed. Thus, even as it seems clear to the reader that there really is something in the cave put there by man, Dantes refuses to accept this idea wholly until he sees the treasure with his own eyes, and holds it in his hands.
Dantes continues his work. He peers into, and then enters, the first chamber of the cave and finds it empty. He tests the walls with his pickaxe, and, finding one that appears to have been done in plaster, he begins pulling it down: first the outer layer, and then the un-mortared rocks that lie beneath it. He finds another chamber, darker than the first, and begins to realize that the Abbe’s treasure directions are true. He finds the darkest corner of that second room, digs in the earth, and uncovers a chest. After calming himself, he pries it open with his pickaxe, revealing an enormous quantity of gold ingots, gold coins, and precious stones. The Abbe’s treasure is real, and Dantes has found it and secured it entirely for himself.
Dantes has managed to master himself for many hours, indeed for weeks and months – believing that it might be possible to find the treasure, but not committing himself entirely to the idea that it’s there. He does this, perhaps, to keep his spirits high in case he’s disappointed. But in this scene, Dantes’s wariness turns to incredulity, surprise, disbelief, and then excitement. For he really has found the treasure, and his patience has paid off. The instructions the Abbe has given him, which after all were partially reconstructed and inferred by the two men, do point to a treasure in reality. The fantastical has become real.
Dantes runs about the island as the daylight falls, rejoicing, wondering if he is in fact dreaming or if this treasure is real. He considers killing a goat for dinner with his gun, but worries about making a sound and directing others to the small island. He returns, counts the treasure, and then climbs back out of the cave, drinking a little wine and eating some biscuit, which the other sailors have left behind for their supposedly wounded comrade. He sleeps, exhausted from what has been the most exciting day of his young life.
This day stands as a complement to the day in which Dantes was first imprisoned in the Chateau D’If. Then, he realized that his misfortune was as poor as any man’s who’d ever lived: taken away from his betrothal feast and thrown in prison for no reason, with no hope of escape. But today, he has stumbled on an unclaimed buried treasure, enough to make his fortune and start his life anew. Both events are as unbelievable as they are hugely emotional.