The Three Musketeers | Study Guide

Alexandre Dumas

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The Three Musketeers | Chapters 23–24 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 23

D'Artagnan's letter specifies a time and place to meet, signed "C.B." or Constance Bonacieux. It is still morning when he gets into a conversation with his landlord on his way out of the house. Bonacieux teases him about a woman waiting impatiently for his return while he was away. D'Artagnan does not notice a shadow pass over Bonacieux's face and jokes along.

D'Artagnan goes to see Treville who says the cardinal is mad, and to beware. He notices the diamond ring—d'Artagnan says it is from the queen, given to him in secret. Treville tells him to sell the ring quickly. D'Artagnan says no. Mistrust everyone, Treville says, especially your mistress—the cardinal always gets to men through their mistresses. The subject changes to the three friends. D'Artagnan says he will go find the Musketeers tomorrow. Treville catches on that d'Artagnan has a date and warns him again. Planchet warns him, too, saying he was watching d'Artagnan's conversation that morning and noticed the changes in Bonacieux's expression. Not convinced by anyone to avoid the evening's rendezvous, d'Artagnan tells Planchet to be ready to accompany him.

Chapter 24

Riding into the darkness, Planchet is scared and cold. D'Artagnan dismisses him until morning, giving him money to go to a tavern.

D'Artagnan makes his way to a pavilion. He waits an hour, but no one appears. Worried, he climbs a tree and looks in the window to discover a scene of disarray, signs of a struggle and blood.

D'Artagnan speaks to an old man in the nearby cottage. The man reports three men dressed as cavaliers borrowed his ladder. A stout little man stepped out of a carriage and climbed the ladder to look in the window, announcing "It is she!" The leader of the men entered the pavilion with a key. The witness heard screams. The men carried out a woman and put her in the carriage, and the little man followed. The carriage and riders sped off. When asked to identify the leader, the old man describes Rochefort. The little man was not a gentleman, meaning not among the higher class: readers recognize Bonacieux, though d'Artagnan doesn't yet. D'Artagnan gives his word to keep the old man's story confidential.

D'Artagnan looks for Planchet, but he is not due until morning. D'Artagnan sleeps in a cabaret. In the morning, Planchet is outside waiting with the horses.

Analysis

An unusual conversation takes place between d'Artagnan and Bonacieux: outwardly jovial, with an undercurrent of menace. D'Artagnan does not read Bonacieux's nonverbal clues—a cloud passing over his face, a crack in his voice—though Planchet does. D'Artagnan makes jokes and walks away laughing, while Bonacieux mutters to himself in a "sepulchral tone." The cloud, the crack, and the tone escalate tension and foreshadow more trouble ahead for d'Artagnan and Mme. Bonacieux.

Treville's advice to d'Artagnan not to trust anyone, even his mistress, foreshadows what is in store for Mme. Bonacieux.

In Chapter 24, the foreshadowing of Treville's warning and Bonacieux's sepulchral tone come to fruition. Mme. Bonacieux is abducted again, this time with Bonacieux, her own husband, personally identifying her for Rochefort. Bonacieux's character reversal is complete: he develops from a hapless mercer worried about his missing wife into a spy for the cardinal who turns over his wife to her enemies. After d'Artagnan discovers the crime scene, he cannot begin the pursuit right away because he left Planchet in the village with the horses and money. This kind of obstruction is necessary to draw out the story arc. Like Cunégonde in Voltaire's Candide, Mme. Bonacieux, the representation of all the beauty, love, and happiness the hero desires, is again out of reach, and his epic journey to find and obtain her must continue.

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