The Three Musketeers | Study Guide

Alexandre Dumas

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The Three Musketeers | Chapters 46–47 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 46

The three Musketeers and d'Artagnan go to an inn called Parpaillot to speak privately. Even though it is morning, soldiers come to drink and discuss last night's battle at the bastion. A wager is proposed: Athos says he and his friends will eat their breakfast at the Bastion St. Gervais, lasting one hour. The stake is an unlimited dinner for eight. The other soldiers agree. The secret motive is to have a conversation in private. Grimaud carries the picnic basket with the added encouragement of Athos's pistol at his head. Hundreds of soldiers come out to watch.

Chapter 47

Athos instructs his friends to gather the muskets and ammunition from the dead. Grimaud will stand guard in a turret. They talk and eat.

Athos says he saw Milady, but not to worry, she is already gone—not before seeking permission to kill d'Artagnan.

Troops are coming, mostly civilians. Athos warns them away. The Musketeers are better shots. The survivors retreat and the picnic resumes.

Athos says Milady went to England to kill the duke. More importantly, Athos took Milady's carte blanche to kill d'Artagnan. She will want revenge.

Another troop is advancing, soldiers this time. At Athos's command, they fire until the ammunition runs out, and then push a wall onto the heads of the enemy. Only a few soldiers survive to limp away in retreat.

Debating whether to warn the duke or kill Milady, the friends instead decide to warn the queen. Aramis offers to write to Madame de Chevreuse to relay the message, but such a letter would be intercepted.

Meanwhile, a whole regiment is mobilizing 15 minutes away. Athos instructs Grimaud to prop up the dead with weapons in hand.

The friends decide to reach out to Lord de Winter who could put his sister-in-law in a prison-like convent. Even better, their trusted servants could take a letter to Madame de Chevreuse and one to Lord de Winter.

The regiment is within musket range, so the three Musketeers and d'Artagnan pack up and go, having won their bet. Athos goes back for the makeshift flag. Musket balls fly. Onlookers cheer.

The four friends decide to sell d'Artagnan's diamond ring from the queen to fund the letter deliveries. When they return, the whole camp is buzzing about the wager. When the cardinal hears the story, he wishes the four friends were in his service.

Later, the cardinal and Treville review the story of the wager, and the cardinal says to take d'Artagnan into the Musketeers, as he clearly belongs there. The four friends are overjoyed when they hear the news. Of course, d'Artagnan must upgrade his equipment, so he asks Dessessart to sell the queen's diamond ring for him. The next day, a bag of money arrives in his hand.

Analysis

The wager and the picnic at the bastion are all about bravado, a display of pride and honor. The Musketeers and d'Artagnan succeed and earn bragging rights forever. Their bosses are not angry they did something foolish and dangerous—the cardinal wishes they were in his guard more than ever. In fact, this is the tipping point that finally gets d'Artagnan the pride and honor of joining the Musketeers: it is a goal met, a dream achieved, and yet it is just the beginning, as he has many adventures ahead. The immediate issue is how to pay for the equipment required by his new company. The queen's diamond ring, given as a symbol of her gratitude, must be sold. Now the ring's symbolism extends to saving the duke with it, and saving her friends the Musketeers, including d'Artagnan.

The other result of this picnic is d'Artagnan being brought up to date on the plot to kill him and the duke. The friends make plans of their own, deciding who they will warn and how. All of this serious conversation proceeds with pauses for almost comical fight scenes. The first troops are laughably unskilled. Later troops have a wall pushed over on them, almost slapstick. When they prop up the dead with weapons, the enemy does not stop firing on the corpses, continuing longer than necessary "only ... to appease their consciences." Athos claims the makeshift flag in a preposterous show of bravado with musket balls flying all around him.

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