The Three Musketeers | Study Guide

Alexandre Dumas

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The Three Musketeers | Chapters 41–42 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 41

La Rochelle—the last holdout of all the Calvinist cities given by Henry IV to the Huguenots, and the last port still open to England—is a pawn in the romantic and political rivalry between the cardinal and the duke.

Although the Musketeers stay back with the king who has a fever, the other regiments, including d'Artagnan's, march to La Rochelle and arrive September 10, 1627. D'Artagnan leaves camp for a stroll and walks into an ambush with two assassins, but escapes. He suspects Milady is responsible.

The next day, d'Artagnan volunteers for a mission to learn if the enemy is guarding a bastion. Two other guards and two other soldiers join him. The soldiers later shoot at d'Artagnan who plays dead. When the two soldiers approach, d'Artagnan springs up. One soldier runs off to join the enemy; the enemy shoots him. The other soldier, wounded by d'Artagnan, says Milady hired them, and the injured assassin has a letter from her, which might mention a lady d'Artagnan loves who is not dead. D'Artagnan crawls out to the injured assassin and uses his body as a shield on his way to a trench.

The letter says "that woman" is now safe at a convent, because the assassins failed. The assassin explains they were supposed to kidnap her and take her to Milady's hotel. D'Artagnan is glad the queen had saved Mme. Bonacieux.

D'Artagnan feels tranquil—one assassin is dead, and the other is devoted to him—but if he thinks the vendetta is over, he underestimates Milady.

Chapter 42

The king is feeling better and plans to come to the siege. The commander does not undertake any operations because he is about to be replaced. D'Artagnan misses his friends. A letter and a dozen bottles of wine arrive with a note saying the Musketeers want d'Artagnan to drink to their health with their favorite wine.

D'Artagnan gathers some friends to enjoy the wine and a meal, served by Planchet, the lackey of a guest, and the surviving assassin, Brisemont, who now reports to Planchet. Brisemont should drink the sediment, D'Artagnan suggests, to accelerate the healing of his wounds.

The canon sounds and they are out of their seats without taking a sip. The king has arrived. D'Artagnan and the three Musketeers are reunited and now they can drink the wine together, only none of them sent it. Suspicious, they go to the refreshment room and Brisemont is on the floor dying. He says d'Artagnan has taken revenge on him after all and dies.

D'Artagnan suspects Milady sent the wine. Athos says to meet with her and work out a truce, threaten her, or kill her, but one cannot live with a sword over his head. In the meantime, they will survive as they have always done. D'Artagnan mentions Mme. Bonacieux; he must save her. The Musketeers agree that after the siege they will liberate her from the convent. Aramis will get information pertaining to the convent's location.

Satisfied, they all return to their quarters with plans to meet up later.

Analysis

Milady's assassins fail to ambush d'Artagnan and fail again during the scouting mission. Maybe they are not great assassins—it is already clear they are not great kidnappers. Brisemont explains they went for a drink at a tavern and missed Mme. Bonacieux when she was transported to a convent. This also shows Milady is turning some of her vengeful attention to Mme. Bonacieux, developing a hatred for her because she eluded Milady and wanting to use her to hurt d'Artagnan.

Further developing the revenge theme, Milady tries to get revenge on d'Artagnan by sending poisoned wine, but the plot is revealed when Brisemont gets sick from it. Some of Brisemont's last moments are spent thinking d'Artagnan had enacted a revenge on him after all by insisting he drink it. Though Brisemont is a casualty, the real quarrel is between Milady and d'Artagnan, and she will get her revenge against him directly and indirectly through Mme. Bonacieux. Then, d'Artagnan will be planning retribution rather than revenge.

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