In another brief chapter, the Count pays a visit to the small but loving home of Emmanuel and Julie, and of Maximilien, who is staying with them while he’s posted in Paris for the military. The Count is surprised to learn that Emmanuel and Julie, though their income is “only” 25,000 francs per year, are able to enjoy such happiness and calm despite the absence of obvious luxury. The Count learns that Julie and Emmanuel closed their father’s merchant business after his death, maintaining his scrupulous honesty and taking the firm’s small profits as an annuity on which they might live, as Emmanuel continues his work in business on his own.
The home of Julie Morrel, Maximilien’s sister, and Emmanuel, former employee to the Morrel firm, is a space of essentially perfect familial comfort. When the Count visits this home, he is reminded of what his own life might have been like – what it would have meant to him to have started a family with Mercedes. In these scenes we also see a counterpoint to the Count’s restless striving for vengeance. In Julie’s home, no one cares about vengeance – instead, it is a place of loving devotion between family members.
Julie and Maximilien mention the agent from Thomson and French—the man who left the bag of money in Old Dantes’ home that paid off the family’s debts—whom they believe to be the same man as Sinbad the Sailor. Julie and Maximilien tell the Count that, for years, the family has sought the agent of Thomson and French to find out what his real name is. The Count grows red in the face and tears form in his eyes as he hears these things, but he does not betray his secret.
The narrator returns to the story of Sinbad and the agent from Thomson and French, who at this point both remain unknown to Julie and Emmanuel. Again, they are unable to notice that the Count is that very same man – in part because the Count is so good as disguising his features from identity to identity. But the Count has also created such a persona for himself in Paris that no one would think he could be anyone other than the Count of Monte Cristo – a fantastical and foreign figure who appears to have stepped out of myth itself.
The Count is then startled by Julie’s admission that Old Morrel believed the “real” agent of mercy to have been the ghost of Edmond Dantes himself, come back from the dead to help the family. The Count takes his leave, promising to find out the identity of the agent of Thomson and French, who he says has long lived under the pseudonym of Lord Wilmore. The Morrels tell the Count he is welcome back at their home any time.
The dramatic irony is powerful here, as Julie inadvertently puts her finger on exactly what has happened. The reader knows that the Count really is Dantes, and that it was the return of Dantes from prison that enabled Old Morrel to escape bankruptcy. But Julie believes that this story is legend or whimsy, when in fact the Count and reader understand it to be true.