The Three Musketeers | Study Guide

Alexandre Dumas

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The Three Musketeers | Chapters 60–63 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 60

Charles I, the king of England, closes the ports to prevent news of the duke's death from discouraging the inhabitants of La Rochelle. Milady's ship had already sailed.

At the La Rochelle encampment, the bored king of France plans a holiday to St. Germain, guarded by only 20 men. Treville suggests the four friends accompany the king, knowing their eagerness to get back to Paris. The four suspect Mme. Bonacieux is in danger of encountering Milady at the convent. Aramis writes to his mistress, Madame de Chevreuse, to ask the queen to release Mme. Bonacieux so she can be moved elsewhere. He soon receives a letter with the queen's orders, signed only "Anne."

In Paris, the king grants four-day furloughs to his 20 Musketeers. Athos wrangles two more days out of Treville, but d'Artagnan says so much fuss is unnecessary: he and Planchet will bring Mme. Bonacieux to the queen. Athos says if Milady appears, d'Artagnan will need their help and more. Porthos and Aramis agree. They will go together.

The four friends stop at an inn just as d'Artagnan recognizes Rochefort galloping away on a fresh horse. As usual, anger propels d'Artagnan to follow him, but his friends try to calm him down. They change their minds when they read a paper dropped by Rochefort. It bears only the name of a town, Armentieres, but it is in Milady's handwriting.

The four friends gallop off to Bethune.

Chapter 61

Milady disembarks in Boulogne just long enough to post a letter to the cardinal saying the duke will not set out for France. She will go to the convent in Bethune and await the cardinal's orders.

Milady chats with the nun who mentions a boarder harassed by the cardinal. Milady denies she is a friend to the cardinal, saying he banished her to this convent as a prison. The nun suggests Milady might enjoy socializing with the other boarder, Kitty. Taken aback, Milady wonders if it could be her maid.

Later, Milady meets the young woman (not Kitty, but Mme. Bonacieux) who says she is about to leave the convent. The young woman says she is a victim of devotion to a friend who she had thought abandoned her, but since learned otherwise.

Conversation turns to friends in high places. Milady mentions the queen losing battles against the cardinal. Milady drops names, including Treville, which leads to naming Musketeers. When they name d'Artagnan, each woman thinks the other was his mistress. Milady, pretending to realize, says the name "Mme. Bonacieux." She says d'Artagnan confides in her, telling her all about the abduction and his love for Mme. Bonacieux. Mme. Bonacieux says she will see d'Artagnan tonight. Milady is shaken by this news, more so when a man on horseback rings.

Not giving his name or hers, the man asks only for the woman who came recently from Boulogne. Milady waits. Finally, she recognizes Rochefort.

Chapter 62

Milady tells Rochefort the duke is dead, or close to it, and Mme. Bonacieux is here at the convent. D'Artagnan and his friends are coming soon to free Mme. Bonacieux, she says. Milady wants the cardinal to know that the four friends overheard their conversation at the Red Dovecot, and one of them took by force the signed document saying anything she had done was in service to France. The cardinal should consider d'Artagnan and Athos dangerous. Aramis's affair with Madame de Chevreuse could be exploited at a future time, and Porthos is a simpleton.

Next, Milady asks what the cardinal says about her. Rochefort says he must relay her information to the cardinal to get her orders, so she must stay at the convent or let him know where she goes. Rochefort then asks about Mme. Bonacieux. Will she be allowed to escape? Milady says to tell the cardinal to be at ease about Mme. Bonacieux—he will understand.

Milady and Rochefort discuss transportation details—Rochefort will send his carriage and servant—and where they will meet next. Milady will cross the river into a foreign country at Armentieres if she encounters danger and wait for him there. He has her write the name on a slip of paper, and he stores it in his hat.

Several hours later outside an inn, the paper bearing the name Armentieres is in the hands of d'Artagnan, having fallen from Rochefort's hat.

Chapter 63

Milady tells Mme. Bonacieux that d'Artagnan is not coming, but the cardinals' agents are coming to abduct her. Milady's advice is to run away and hide together.

Later, Milady reviews her plans. She will take Mme. Bonacieux to Armentieres, convince her d'Artagnan never came, and then wait for Rochefort.

Milady describes the following plan to Mme. Bonacieux: Milady will board the carriage sent to take her away. Mme. Bonacieux will pretend she is climbing in for a farewell embrace, and then the carriage will take off. Milady reviews the plan with the servant, including the part Mme. Bonacieux does not hear: if he sees d'Artagnan, drive the carriage to the village—Milady will arrive on foot.

During supper, Milady and Mme. Bonacieux hear hoofbeats. The carriage drives off to the sound of gunshots. Milady sees d'Artagnan and the Musketeers, but tells Mme. Bonacieux they are the cardinal's guards. Mme. Bonacieux falls to her knees in terror, and Milady cannot raise her. Milady secretly empties the contents of a ring into a wine glass. Mme. Bonacieux drinks it and Milady fleas.

The riders enter the convent. Mme. Bonacieux recognizes d'Artagnan's voice. She calls to him. D'Artagnan and Mme. Bonacieux are reunited only for a moment before she shows signs of illness. Athos sees the glass of poison and asks who poured it. There is no antidote and Mme. Bonacieux dies.

A stranger appears: Lord de Winter. He is chasing Milady, too. The four friends welcome him to join them in avenging Mme. Bonacieux. They all set out to catch Milady. Athos has a plan—he asks for the paper with Milady's handwriting, reading Armentieres.

Analysis

Demonstrating the theme of friendship, the four Musketeers work toward saving Mme. Bonacieux. Even their wise friend Treville helps by suggesting they accompany the king on holiday, so they can return to Paris. When they receive a furlough from the king, Athos persuades Treville to add a few extra days. D'Artagnan tries to go it alone, but his friends will not hear of it—Milady is too dangerous, and they must stand together to defeat her. It is "all for one, one for all," heading for the convent at Bethune. When they see Rochefort galloping away, d'Artagnan is distracted for a moment, but his friends keep him on track. The paper with Milady's handwriting is a clue: she is ahead of them on the trail. They must hurry, and they continue on united until the resolution.

When Milady arrives at the convent, she is told about another boarder whose description matches Mme. Bonacieux, but whose name is Kitty. Milady is thrown for a moment thinking of her former maid who quit in a rush after the Comte de Wardes episode. Milady never saw her again, though readers know Kitty went off to work for a connection of Madame de Bois-Tracy. So, Kitty is an assumed name, or perhaps a red herring by Dumas.

Milady, in her final performance, creates an illusion for the purpose of controlling Mme. Bonacieux. She pretends to be persecuted by the cardinal, pretends to be d'Artagnan's best friend, and pretends Rochefort is her brother who is about to help her break out. Mme. Bonacieux trusts Milady who says d'Artagnan is not coming, the cardinal's men are coming to abduct her again, and she should join Milady in escaping. When she sees the four Musketeers approaching the convent, Milady lies saying the hoofbeats belong to the cardinal's guards, and when Mme. Bonacieux is paralyzed with fear and unable to run, Milady hands her poisoned wine, saying the drink will calm her nerves; another lie. Milady makes the illusion work for her until the last possible moment when she leaves behind a dose of reality in her wake, the reality of death. This is also Milady's last stroke of revenge, nearly at the end of the revenge theme.

Just as Lord de Winter was moments too late to save the duke, the Musketeers are moments too late to save Mme. Bonacieux, and Lord de Winter again, a few moments after them. This repetition adds immediacy—the pursuit of Milady is on and they are right on her heels.

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