Course Hero. "The Three Musketeers Study Guide." Course Hero. 28 Nov. 2016. Web. 23 Sep. 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Three-Musketeers/>.
Course Hero. (2016, November 28). The Three Musketeers Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved September 23, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Three-Musketeers/
(Course Hero, 2016)
Course Hero. "The Three Musketeers Study Guide." November 28, 2016. Accessed September 23, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Three-Musketeers/.
Course Hero, "The Three Musketeers Study Guide," November 28, 2016, accessed September 23, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Three-Musketeers/.
The king must return to La Rochelle to fulfill a promise he made to the cardinal. He stops for birding, and the four friends go to a tavern. A man calls over to d'Artagnan—the man of Meung, Rochefort. D'Artagnan takes out his sword. Rochefort says d'Artagnan is under arrest—the cardinal wants to see him. Athos tells Rochefort the three Musketeers will guard d'Artagnan and there is no need for the cardinal's guards to do so. Rochefort agrees, if d'Artagnan surrenders his sword.
Later at his house, the cardinal lists the accusations against d'Artagnan, who asks if they were made by Milady. D'Artagnan tells the story of Milady's crimes and death. The cardinal says they are assassins. D'Artagnan hands him the carte blanche which Athos took from Milady, signed by the cardinal himself. The cardinal rips it up. D'Artagnan assumes this means he is doomed, but the cardinal replaces it with a new paper: a lieutenant's commission in the Musketeers with the name left blank.
The cardinal calls in Rochefort and tells him to welcome d'Artagnan. They shake hands.
D'Artagnan goes to each of the three Musketeers in private and tries to give him the commission. They all decline: Porthos will marry the newly widowed Mme. Coquenard, and Aramis will join a holy order; Athos writes d'Artagnan's name on the commission, saying no one deserves it more.
D'Artagnan cries and says he will no longer have any friends. Athos says he is young and his view will change.
The commission paper is blank where the name will be written: d'Artagnan must decide whose name to write in. His impulse is to defer to his friends who have more experience. With the endorsement of his respected friends, d'Artagnan has not only achieved his dream of becoming a Musketeer, but now with this promotion, has achieved rank and power. Honor and a good reputation are also assured. Some money will be involved, maybe even a fortune someday. All this success for a poor boy from Gascony, but this brings the story to a bittersweet conclusion.
D'Artagnan cries with his head in his hands: he will have no friends, only "bitter recollections." Mme. Bonacieux, presumably, will be missed, maybe even Milady. Porthos will marry and Aramis will join a religious order—not dead, but certainly busy with other concerns. Athos, his dearest friend, and the one who will stay with d'Artagnan in the Musketeers, says, "your bitter recollections have time to change themselves into sweet remembrances." D'Artagnan is young and someday he will forget the pain, although Athos is no example of that philosophy. Either way, going forward, the Inseparables are now separated.
The themes of honor and pride come to a satisfying conclusion, but the theme of friendship leaves the reader wanting. Not exactly a cliffhanger, but perhaps Dumas had in mind a sequel, as mentioned in the author's preface—or two, which did, in fact, come to pass.