The Three Musketeers | Study Guide

Alexandre Dumas

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The Three Musketeers | Chapters 35–38 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 35

D'Artagnan pays his nightly visit to Milady at 9 p.m., knowing she expects the Comte de Wardes at 11. He leaves at 10 p.m. and finds Kitty sobbing. Although he is moved, his resolve is firm. D'Artagnan tells Kitty his plan is only about revenge.

All lights are discreetly extinguished. D'Artagnan announces himself as the Comte de Wardes and pushes aside Kitty who then cries in her room. Milady tells the impostor she loves him and gives him a sapphire ring to remind him of her. D'Artagnan almost confesses his identity. He loves her and he hates her. When it is time to leave, they make a plan for another rendezvous the following week.

D'Artagnan tells Athos the whole story. When Athos sees the ring from Milady, he says it reminds him of a family jewel. It fits Athos perfectly, and it has a scratch just like the one he remembers. If it is the same sapphire, how did Milady get it? Athos has a bad feeling about her and tells d'Artagnan to get away from Milady fast.

Kitty waits for d'Artagnan to return home. Milady is in a fever to see the fake Comte de Wardes again. D'Artagnan forges a note saying he—the fake Comte de Wardes—has so many women he must keep them on a schedule; he will let her know when it is her turn again. Kitty is thrilled and runs with the letter back to Milady. Milady is outraged and vows revenge on the Comte de Wardes.

Chapter 36

Milady waits in vain for d'Artagnan two nights in a row. Kitty brings a note from Milady asking d'Artagnan if he will make it three. D'Artagnan perceives his stock goes up with Milady as the Comte de Wardes's goes down. His love is rekindled when he visits. Milady demands proof of his love: she wants d'Artagnan to help her get revenge against her mortal enemy. Milady tells herself she will get rid of d'Artagnan next. D'Artagnan tells himself he will laugh at her with the Comte de Wardes instead of kill him.

As Milady is about to tell d'Artagnan the name of her enemy, he lets it slip himself. She demands to know how he knows. D'Artagnan makes up a story about seeing the Comte de Wardes in a saloon showing off a ring from her. They agree d'Artagnan should seek Milady's revenge tomorrow, but their evening is interrupted by the announcement of Lord de Winter's arrival. Milady has d'Artagnan go out a different door with instructions to return at 11 p.m. and for Kitty to show him to Milady's bedchamber.

Chapter 37

A combination of vengeance and vanity compels d'Artagnan to visit Milady's chamber. He knows she is just using him as an instrument of death, and their union will last only until he kills the Comte de Wardes, but d'Artagnan's mind wanders in other directions. Thus, when Milady asks for details about how he intends to engage the Comte de Wardes in a duel, d'Artagnan answers it is too late at night to think about sword fights. Milady thinks of nothing else. D'Artagnan suggests she forgive the Comte de Wardes. Milady strikes back by saying he is scared.

By daybreak the lovers profess their devotion to each other. D'Artagnan feels so confident in Milady's love for him he confesses he posed as the Comte de Wardes. Milady strikes him and leaps out of bed. He tries to restrain her and her nightdress rips, revealing Milady's shoulders. One shoulder bears the brand of the fleur-de-lis. Not a living soul knows this secret. Milady cries d'Artagnan—who deceived her and who knows her secret—must die. She grabs a dagger from a box and lunges at him. He draws his sword and holds her off until he gets to Kitty's door. He makes it through, and Kitty locks the door while Milady's blade stabs through the wood.

D'Artagnan begs Kitty to help him escape before the servants kill him. He cannot go out without clothes, though, so Kitty dresses him in a flowered robe and slippers. Milady curses him, gesturing until he is out of sight. Finally, she faints.

Chapter 38

D'Artagnan runs nonstop from Milady's hotel to Athos's apartment. D'Artagnan tells Athos that Milady has a fleur-de-lis on her shoulder. They compare descriptions and conclude Milady is likely Athos's wife. D'Artagnan says she will kill Athos because he had tried to kill her.

D'Artagnan reminds Athos that Milady is a spy for the cardinal. Athos warns d'Artagnan not to trust anyone—he is now more an enemy of the cardinal than ever. Athos will end his seclusion to accompany d'Artagnan for protection. They decide to pawn the sapphire ring to buy equipment.

After Planchet brings d'Artagnan some clothes, they return home. Bonacieux says a woman is waiting upstairs: Kitty. She tearfully recounts running away in fear of Milady. She reminds d'Artagnan of his promise to protect her, so he summons Aramis to help.

D'Artagnan asks what Kitty knows about Mme. Bonacieux. He lies, saying Athos loves Mme. Bonacieux. Kitty says she was scared Bonacieux recognized her—she met him twice at Milady's, including last night before d'Artagnan arrived. They agree to evacuate immediately, as Bonacieux has surely gone to report to the cardinal. Aramis arrives and recalls that Mme. de Bois-Tracy had asked him to recommend a maid. Aramis gives Kitty a letter of introduction with his seal. They all part ways. D'Artagnan and Athos pawn the ring and buy equipment, and Aramis heads home. Athos, not one for bargaining, goes through his share of the money instantly. He changes his mind about the ring and sells it for additional money.

Analysis

The identity thief is back: d'Artagnan commences his plan to pose as the Comte de Wardes for a romantic rendezvous with Milady. His motivation is part wanting to defeat her and part a fascination with her. In the dark, Milady does not recognize d'Artagnan. Interesting how a woman of many faces and assumed identities does not suspect it in others. Milady vows revenge against the impostor Comte de Wardes for the insult, telling her she must wait her turn while he visits all his other lovers.

Milady is suddenly very eager for a visit from d'Artagnan, whom she claims to hate. He correctly assumes his stock goes up as the Comte de Wardes's goes down, but why? Milady is ready to exploit his affection. She wants d'Artagnan to kill the Comte de Wardes. This is her point of power: make him fall in love, seduce him, and then make him prove his love by doing whatever she asks (e.g., killing someone). This whole pattern is repeated later with Felton, only he is not instantly affected by lust, so Milady must fake religious zealotry to control the Puritan. As Milady says after the hard work of manipulating Felton, d'Artagnan's straightforward physicality is so simple—his love rekindles easily.

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