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The King is finally obliged to return to La Rochelle. His vacation in Paris is over. He sets off still astonished over the death of Buckingham, and he gloats about it to his wife.
As the four friends escort the King, they just look sad. All the time.
One day the four friends have stopped for drinks at an inn when a man walks in and spots D’Artagnan.
D’Artagnan grabs his sword: it’s the Man from Meung!
The man explains he is there to arrest D’Artagnan. He announces himself as the Chevalier de Rochefort, under orders to take D’Artagnan to the Cardinal.
Athos points out that they are on their way to La Rochelle, and D’Artagnan promises to go straight to the Cardinal when he arrives.
Rochefort says that isn’t good enough.
Athos pledges that he, Porthos, and Aramis will act as guards and make sure that D’Artagnan never leaves their side.
Rochefort understands that it would come down to a fight with him against four men, and acquiesces to this plan, providing D’Artagnan surrender his sword.
Rochefort says this works well since he can now continue his journey. Athos says if Rochefort is journeying in search of Milady, it’s a useless journey.
Rochefort asks what happened; Athos tells him to return to camp and find out.
The King meets up with the Cardinal at Surgères. The Cardinal finds D’Artagnan with his three (well-armed) friends, and beckons D’Artagnan to go with him.
Athos calls out that they (Porthos, Aramis, Athos) will wait for him.
D’Artagnan is convinced he is going to receive a death sentence.
The Cardinal says D’Artagnan has been arrested. D’Artagnan argues that he’s only guilty of one thing, and there’s no way the Cardinal could have known about it.
The Cardinal lists D’Artagnan’s crimes, and D’Artagnan wants to know who accuses him. D’Artagnan then lists the crimes of his accuser (Milady). The Cardinal says that if the crimes are true, she will be punished.
Too late, D’Artagnan says. She’s already dead.
D’Artagnan fills the Cardinal in on all the murdering and executing that’s been going on.
The Cardinal eventually relaxes. He asks if D’Artagnan and his friends realize that, by judging without a license to do so, they are considered assassins.
D’Artagnan says he is willing to accept any punishment the Cardinal wants to dole out.
D’Artagnan mentions that he has the Cardinal’s pardon in his pocket, but that he’s nevertheless ready to be sentenced however the Cardinal sees fit.
The Cardinal asks to see the pardon. He then reflects.
D’Artagnan is positive he is going to die.
Cardinal Richelieu continues thinking. He weighs D’Artagnan’s youth, devotion, and bravery against Milady’s admittedly terrifying exploits.
He hands D’Artagnan a piece of paper: it is a lieutenant’s commission in the Musketeers! D’Artagnan falls at the Cardinal’s feet and says he cannot accept it—his friends, he says, are more worthy.
The Cardinal points out that the name on the commission is blank. D’Artagnan can give it to any one of his friends if he so desires. The Cardinal wants D’Artagnan to remember, however, that the commission was given to him.
The Cardinal calls for Rochefort and has him and D’Artagnan put their differences behind them.
The two men leave and make arrangements to have a duel, at some point in the future.
Later that night, D’Artagnan goes straight to Athos and offers him the commission. Athos responds that D’Artagnan ought to keep it; for the Comte de la Fère it is too little, for Athos it is too much.
D’Artagnan next goes to visit Porthos, who refuses the commission. He’s getting married to his recently widowed mistress.
D’Artagnan then goes in search of Aramis, who also refuses. He is determined to become a priest.
Our young hero then returns to Athos, who writes in D’Artagnan’s name, saying that none is more worthy.
D’Artagnan is not happy—he no longer has friends!
Athos tells him that feeling isolated is a product of youth. Over time, D’Artagnan will feel better.