Preparations for a rainy Sunday afternoon included a fire in the fireplace, a hot cup of coffee, and the Count of Monte Cristo’s company. Little did I know that the rain housed a vicious tornado that would cut a swath through Oak Grove, Hattiesburg, and Petal, packing winds as high as 170 miles an hour. Shortly after I spotted the brown swirl across Oak Grove Road, the power went off. Uh-oh! I realized I’d missed part of my preparation for this particular Sunday afternoon, but I remedied it easily enough. I got my pen light and hunkered down – not all that different from when I was a teenager with a flashlight under the quilt after lights out.
I’d read our library’s present Classics Book Club selection, The Count of Monte Cristo, when I was in high school. [If you’re a regular to my blog, you may remember “A Teacher Who Made a Difference to Me.”] I remembered liking it, but I recalled little of the story. I wondered if I would enjoy it as an adult. Having finished a good two thirds of the book, I was beginning to see the many threads weaving together as the count manipulated the people in his life so the bad ones got revenge and the good ones got rewards. Not remembering how he untangled all the webs, I was wrapped up in page-turning to see how it all came out.
The storyline remained as interesting as I remembered. In addition, I saw layers of philosophy and theology that had either escaped me the first time through or that I had forgotten:
• The question of whether revenge, even for cruel people, can go too far,
• The quandary of whether excess wealth threatens happiness,
• Whether God gives free will or just doles out life for us to accept.
Dumas had some good lines as well:
• What is required of a young man in Paris? To speak the language, more or less; to be acceptably turned out; to be a good sport; and to pay cash.
• Calderhouse was actually weeping, though it was hard to tell if it was joy or onions that had affected the lachrymal glands.
• It was the oldest women who were the most heavily adorned and the ugliest who were most determined to make an exhibition of themselves.
• The friends whom we have lost do not rest in the earth, they are buried in our hearts, and that is how God wanted it, so that we would always be in their company.
• God is full of mercy . . . He is a father before He is a judge.
Much of the story came back like a familiar tune – an “oldie, but goodie.” It wasn’t exactly the carefree Sunday afternoon I had envisioned, but I was glad to be safe and to have the Count, his friends, and his enemies to keep my mind off the raging storm outside.