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The Three Musketeers

The Three Musketeers


by Alexandre Dumas

The Three Musketeers Chapter Sixteen: In Which M. Seguier, Keeper of the Seals, Looks More Than Once For the Bell, In Order to Ring It, as He Did Before Summary

  • Who is M. Seguier? Let’s find out…
  • The King reacts immediately and unfavorably to the news that Buckingham has been in town.
  • The Cardinal lies through his teeth and tells the King that he believes a) Buckingham was probably in town for political reasons, and b) that the Queen loves the King and would never in a million years cheat on him with, say, the Duke of Buckingham.
  • The King argues the exact opposite.
  • The Cardinal then drops the bombshell—his agent Madame de Lannoy (one of the Queen’s ladies who spies for the Cardinal) has informed him that the Queen has been writing a lot recently.
  • Fire alarms go off in the King’s head and he absolutely demands that he get his hands on the Queen’s papers.
  • The problem is that the King’s wife happens to be a very famous and exalted queen. He can’t exactly just run over and snoop through her stuff.
  • The King insists that his wife does not love him, but that she loves Buckingham instead. He asks the Cardinal why the Duke wasn’t arrested while in Paris.
  • The King points out that arresting the prime minister of England isn’t exactly a great strategy move.
  • The King then asks if the Cardinal is certain that Buckingham did not meet up with the Queen. Being the clever fellow he is, the Cardinal says he believes the Queen is far too honorable to do such a deed.
  • The King insists on seeing his wife’s letters.
  • The Cardinal says the only way to do it is to ask Monsieur de Seguier. (Aha! The mystery man of our title.) The Cardinal warns the King that the Queen may refuse to obey the orders unless they are clearly from the King. The King says he will tell her himself, and is deeply impressed with the ways in which the Cardinal has strived for marital harmony between the two royals.
  • The King visits his wife, who is with her ladies. More correctly, one of the ladies is reading out loud from a book while Anne is daydreaming. She is contemplating her life—her husband distrusts her, the Cardinal hates her, and she has no friends. Her last confidant, Monsieur Laporte (Madame Bonacieux’s godfather), is on the verge of being arrested.
  • As she’s thinking all these cheery thoughts, the King walks in. He tells her to prepare herself for a visit from the chancellor. Since she is constantly "threatened with divorce, exile, and trial," this latest command freaks her out. She asks for an explanation, but the King refuses to ease her mind.
  • The chancellor walks in.
  • The narrator warns us that this guy will come back in the story, so it’s best if we learn a little bit about him. When the chancellor was younger, he was wild and crazy. When he got older, he went to a convent and tried to repent of all his evil sins. Temptation still bothered him all the time, however, and he confessed this vulnerability. It was recommended that the Chancellor (also know as Seguier) ring a bell every time he felt tempted, and all the monks would run to the chapel and pray for his soul.
  • Seguier was tempted an awful lot, however, so day in and day out the bell was ringing and the monks were running to chapel to pray.
  • It is unclear whether the monks finally succeeded in curing him, or whether he was too addicted to his earthly pleasures.
  • Still, six months later he was back in the real world with a reputation for being the most possessed guy ever (as in possessed by the devil).
  • The chancellor eventually served the Cardinal, which brings us back to our story.
  • Seguier enters into the Queen’s room and demands to see all her documents.
  • She protests, then tells one of her ladies to open all the drawers and desks.
  • The chancellor realizes that was a little too easy, but for form’s sake goes through all the drawers. He states that it’s becomes necessary to frisk the Queen.
  • Anna of Austria is angry at this point. Subject herself to a humiliating strip search? No way!
  • The chancellor explains that the King knows his wife has been writing a letter, and he wants to see it.
  • Anna asks if he would dare frisk her. The chancellor says he obeys the King. (Read: Yes!)
  • After a little more back and forth, she gives up the letter.
  • It’s addressed to the King of Spain.
  • (We learn from narrator that the letter contains a plan of attack against the Cardinal. The Queen asks her brother and the Emperor of Austria to declare war against France and request the dismissal of the Cardinal.)
  • But there’s no mention of her affection for the Duke of Buckingham.
  • The King is happy to read this letter. He goes straight to the Cardinal and acknowledges that the Cardinal was correct in saying the Queen was up to politics, not sex.
  • The King also points out that the letter makes it clear that the Queen pretty severely dislikes the Cardinal, and asks his eminence (i.e., the Cardinal) what he wants to do.
  • The Cardinal continues playing it cool and says that he’s getting old and would love to retire.
  • The King responds by saying he will punish everyone in the letter, including the Queen.
  • The Cardinal says, no, don’t do that, why don’t you throw a ball and ask her to wear those diamonds you gave her. You two should make up your differences!
  • Anne is excited and happy when the King tells her about the ball, but she has to wait for the Cardinal to name the day of the event.
  • The Cardinal, of course, is waiting for word from Milady that the diamonds have been stolen.
  • Finally, he decides upon a date (after Milady will be back in Paris with the diamonds) and again mentions to the King that the Queen should really wear those magnificent diamonds.

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