The Three Musketeers Chapter Fourteen: The Man of Meung Summary
It turns out the carriage had stopped only because a bunch of people were rubbernecking a corpse. Monsieur Bonacieux is still alive.
Two guards grab Bonacieux out of the carriage and drag him into a building and upstairs. He quiets down after a time and has a look around – since the furnishings are really quite beautiful, he starts to feel more comfortable.
A nice-looking officer walks in and Bonacieux goes into another, less pleasant, room. There is a map of La Rochelle (a city in France) on the table and a man standing next to the table.
This man is the Cardinal de Richelieu that we’ve been hearing so much about. The narrator notes that this is one of the most extraordinary men in Europe, renowned for his genius and moral power.
The Cardinal asks for notes from the interrogations at the Bastille, and then dismisses his men. After reading the notes, he accuses Bonacieux of conspiracy.
Bonacieux says his wife said that the Cardinal had lured the Duke of Buckingham to Paris in order to ruin the Queen.
The Cardinal reacts violently to this bit of information and calls Bonacieux stupid.
The rest of the conversation goes something like this:
Cardinal: Do you know where your wife is?
Bonacieux: No, but I assume she went to the palace.
Cardinal: Wrong! She has disappeared. But because I am Cardinal Awesome, no one can hide from me. *cue manic laughter*
The Cardinal then questions Bonacieux about his wife’s activities. We learn that Madame Bonacieux frequently did business with linen drapers, (she’s in charge of the Queen’s linen).
Boancieux gives the addresses of the two linen drapers his wife frequents, and the Cardinal calls for his servants to send Count Rochefort into the room. The man walks in and Bonacieux recognizes him as the man who stole his wife. This would make Count Rochefort also D’Artagnan’s man from Meung.
The Cardinal promptly calls for an officer to have Rochefort locked up. Immediately Bonacieux takes back what he said. The Cardinal orders the guards to get rid of Bonacieux.
One of the guards stays behind and tells the Cardinal that the Queen and the Duke have met up at the palace. The source of the information is a Madame de Lannoy, an agent of the Cardinal.
The Cardinal learns all the details of the encounter from the perspective of one of the Queen’s ladies – the Queen ordered her women to wait for her, then returned to grab the golden casket.
The new piece of information we learn is that the casket is full of diamond studs (a gift from the King to the Queen).
Clearly the Queen gave the casket to the Duke. We knew that already, but the Cardinal wants to make sure, so he continues questioning the officer.
Apparently Madame de Lannoy expressed fake concern that the casket was missing. When confronted, the Queen said she was having the studs repaired. The officer checked with the goldsmith, who definitely had no such casket.
The Cardinal is pleased. There is still time to embarrass the Queen. He then orders his officers to check the two addresses provided by Bonacieux.
After the officer leaves, the Cardinal calls for Bonacieux to enter again. He chastises Bonacieux for being so dense as to think that his wife was actually going to visit linen drapers.
Bonacieux falls at the Cardinal’s feet and showers compliments on him.
The Cardinal smiles and enjoys the compliments.
Bonacieux engages in a little more brown-nosing before the Cardinal forgives him.
Then the Cardinal gives him a hundred pistoles in apology.
Bonacieux leaves singing the Cardinal’s praises at the top of his lungs.
The Cardinal is amused, but is also pleased. Clearly Bonacieux’s loyalties now belong to the Cardinal.
The Cardinal examines the map of La Rochelle as Rochefort re-enters the room.
Rochefort reports that a man and a woman (the Duke of Buckingham and Madame de Chevreuse – we learn who she is later) had indeed been staying at one of the two houses, but they are no longer there.
The Cardinal orders that the Queen be kept unaware that secret is out.
When Rochefort asks what went down with Bonacieux, the Cardinal answers that Bonacieux is now a spy upon his wife, Madame Bonacieux.
Later, the Cardinal calls for a man named Vitray to travel to London and deliver a letter to Milady, one of the Cardinal’s conspirators. He also gives him two hundred pistoles and promises the same amount upon the man’s return.
The messenger leaves.
The last paragraph of the chapter reveals the message’s contents: Milady is instructed to find the Duke of Buckingham and, since he will obviously be wearing the diamond studs, to get close and cut off two of the studs.