The Three Musketeers | Study Guide

Alexandre Dumas

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The Three Musketeers | Chapters 21–22 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 21

D'Artagnan and the duke return to London, where the duke realizes two of the 12 diamonds have been stolen. The duke reasons the cardinal has something to do with the theft: the duke had only worn the diamonds to one ball, he and Milady reconciled a quarrel there, and Milady works for the cardinal.

The duke writes an order to close the ports—knowing it will likely be considered a declaration of war—so d'Artagnan can reach Paris before the stolen diamonds and save the queen's honor.

The duke then orders new diamonds to replace the missing ones, keeping the goldsmith and his apprentice captive in his palace so they can do a rush job.

D'Artagnan will not accept pay for acting as messenger. His actions are for the benefit of the queen, not the duke. However, he will accept the offer of four horses for himself and his friends, with the intention of someday riding them into battle against England.

As his boat leaves the harbor, d'Artagnan thinks he sees Milady on another vessel stuck in port. Arriving at St. Valery, d'Artagnan follows the duke's instructions to find the inn where the duke has arranged for a horse to be saddled and waiting. He repeats the process four times and arrives in Paris in about 12 hours.

Chapter 22

The king and queen arrive at the ball. She is not wearing any diamonds, which the king had clearly requested. The king is furious, so she sends someone to retrieve them from the palace. The cardinal shows the king two diamonds, asking him to ask the queen who might have stolen them. The king and queen dance for an hour before he can count the diamonds—none are missing. The cardinal pretends the two studs are his gift to the queen, knowing she would only accept the gift if it were from her husband.

D'Artagnan watches from the shadows. Mme. Bonacieux sneaks him through the corridors to a closet. The queen hands him a ring through the tapestry. He asks Mme. Bonacieux when they will meet again. She tells him to go home—the answer is in the letter waiting there.

Analysis

D'Artagnan accepts expensive horses decked out with the finest saddles from the duke. A certain pride comes with having a fine horse—the horse is a reflection of the man who rides it. Recall d'Artagnan's origins riding the old yellow horse, comical and pathetic, which he sheds as quickly as possible in Paris. Now he will have a horse from the duke, reflecting the attainment of all his aspirations.

Mme. Bonacieux sneaks d'Artagnan through the corridors of the palace, echoing her bringing the duke the same way. Then he receives the queen's gratitude in the form of a diamond ring, continuing the symbolism of diamonds. When the queen is presented with the two stolen diamonds, the quick-thinking cardinal makes up the excuse that they are a gift—a little awkward, but the worst interpretation by the king is that the cardinal is too indulgent with the queen. Although his outward reputation is intact, the damage to the cardinal's ego and the people responsible will not be forgotten. The two diamonds symbolize his thwarted attempt to expose the queen's disloyalty.

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