Study Guide

The Man in the Iron Mask

The Man in the Iron Mask Summary

The Man in the Iron Mask continues the tale of our four heroes from The Three Musketeers, Dumas's wildly popular introduction to the mischievous Musketeers – D'Artagnan, Aramis, Porthos, and Athos. In this dark sequel, we track their lives many years after the prodigious moment when D'Artagnan receives a commission to be a lieutenant in the Musketeers. We find in The Man in the Iron Mask that things have changed quite a bit from the seeming happy days of swashbuckling adventures.

The story opens at the famous French prison known as the Bastille. A priest named Aramis – a former Musketeer – is sitting in a cell with a prisoner. It seems that Aramis is at the prison to hear the man's confession. The prisoner, however, doesn't have anything to confess, because his only crime is being the King of France's twin brother. Aramis happens to be one of the few people in France who knows this secret. Aramis wastes no time in putting together a plan to free this prisoner and swap him for the legitimate king. Once the former prisoner becomes king, Aramis hopes to be rewarded by being appointed adviser to the King, prime minister, or even pope.

Meanwhile, let's get up to speed on the situation with the real King. We have a colorful cast of characters at court. There's King Louis's mother, Anne of Austria, his younger brother (known as Monsieur, with a capital 'M'), his wife Maria Theresa, and his mistress, a woman named La Valliere. Then there's the Superintendent of Finances, a man by the name of Fouquet, who's throwing a party at Vaux in an attempt to ingratiate himself with the King. Among those who would like to see Fouquet swimming with the fishes is a man named Colbert, the Minister of Finances. To round off courtly life, we have D'Artagnan, captain of the King's Musketeers.

Aramis convinces Fouquet to order the release of a prisoner named Seldon. Aramis then arrives at the Bastille, the largest and most feared prison in all of France, and tricks Baisemeaux into releasing the King's brother (his name is Philippe) instead of Seldon. Having successfully freed Philippe, Aramis then convinces him to become king of France. Philippe accepts.

Aramis then briefs Philippe on all the people close to the King so that Philippe can successfully impersonate his twin brother. In the course of this conversation, we learn that a young man named Raoul is dying of a broken heart. He is in love with a woman who goes by the name of La Valliere. Raoul's courtship was going well until the King took an interest in the woman. Being forced to choose between a king and a mere commoner, La Valliere chose the King. Aramis later reveals his ambition to be pope: Philippe can be king of men's bodies, and Aramis can rule their souls. With the diabolical plan agreed upon, the two head for the party at Vaux.

Going to a party at Vaux is a big deal. Everyone who is anyone, is there. Flowers adorn the grounds, the servants outnumber the guests, the food is delicious, the wine flows freely, and the night concludes with a fireworks display. Even though Fouquet and his wife personally wait on the King and Queen, his royal majesty is in a deep sulk. It seems that Fouquet has the money to throw even more lavish parties than the King, and that is not OK.

Before the King goes to sleep, he meets with Colbert, Fouquet's arch enemy. Aramis and Philippe spy on the conversation, and learn that Colbert produced damning evidence that implicates Fouquet in stealing thirteen million Francs from the government. Fouquet seems destined for the Bastille, but the King will make his decision tomorrow.

In the midst of all the partying, the King sneaks off with his mistress and complains that Fouquet is humiliating him. Colbert shows up. La Valliere pleads with the two men to spare Fouquet. Caught up in her love, the King agrees.

As La Valliere leaves, Colbert plants a letter. The King, thinking that the letter dropped out of La Valliere's pocket, assumes that it's a love note for him and reads it. Instead, it's a love letter from Fouquet to La Valliere. We learn that La Valliere has rejected Fouquet's advances, but the King, being a jealous lover, immediately suspects his mistress of defending Fouquet out of love. Fouquet's fate is sealed.

Or is it? That night, the King is replaced by Philippe, the twin brother newly freed from the Bastille. The real King gets thrown into the Bastille, and Philippe morphs into his new royal role. Porthos unwittingly helps Aramis arrange the switch.

The next morning, Aramis goes to Fouquet and tells him to put his mind at rest – everything will be OK. Fouquet naturally wants to know what caused the King's change of heart. Aramis tells him about the change of kings. Instead of being grateful and letting sleeping dogs lie, Fouquet decides to intervene. He gives Aramis and Porthos four hours to get to his estate on Belle-Isle, an impregnable fortress where the two men will be safe from the wrath of the King. Fouquet then heads to the Bastille and frees King Louis. Aramis and Porthos take off as known rebels against the crown.

After an awkward moment when the twins are in the same room, Louis is restored to power. Meanwhile, Porthos and Aramis approach Athos's estate en route to Belle-Isle. They decide to pay their old friend a visit. Athos has been consoling his son, Raoul, whose heart was broken by La Valliere. Porthos still believes that he's accompanying Aramis on a secret mission for the King, a mission for which he will be handsomely rewarded. Aramis tells Athos the real reason behind their flight from Paris. Aramis and Porthos take horses from Athos and continue their journey to Belle-Isle.

Monsieur le Duc de Beaufort is the next visitor to Athos's home. He is about to embark on a military campaign to Africa and wants to say good-bye. Raoul immediately begs permission to serve as the Duke's aide-de-camp. Athos is deeply upset because it's clear to him that Raoul is going into this war with a death wish, but agrees to let Raoul go.

Beaufort directs Raoul to the coast of France to prepare the armed forces. Athos accompanies his son to the coast. Before they leave, they search out D'Artagnan to say their good-byes. Unfortunately, D'Artagnan has already left Paris. After a little sleuthing, Athos and Raoul determine that D'Artagnan is heading to Cannes. Luckily, Cannes is along their route. The two men assume they will meet D'Artagnan on the way.

As they head to the coast, Athos and Porthos don't hear anything about D'Artagnan. Athos assumes D'Artagnan is being deliberately secretive while on a mission for the King. A chance encounter with fishermen convinces Athos that D'Artagnan is on the island of Ste. Marguerite, forcing Philippe into a life of captivity. The two men go to the island and catch up with D'Artagnan. They also meet Philippe, who is now forced to wear an iron mask and is forbidden from communicating with anyone. During the visit, D'Artagnan is summoned back to the Louvre to serve the King. The three leave the island together. As D'Artagnan makes his way to Paris, he prays his next mission won't involve bringing in Porthos and Aramis. Meanwhile, Athos is forced to say a painful good-bye to his son.

At the Louvre, D'Artagnan meets La Valliere, and shames the woman by talking about Raoul's determination to die in battle. D'Artagnan meets with the King and learns of His Majesty's intention to hold meet with a group of nobles at Nantes.

Meanwhile, Fouquet, nervous that he'll be arrested any minute, has worked himself into a grave illness. Friends attempt to console him by concocting escape plans. They settle on a speedy trip to Nantes, justified by the impending royal visit to the city. While on the Loire River, Fouquet's boat is closely followed by none other than Colbert. Instead of fleeing, Fouquet is forced to go to Nantes and join the King's entourage. Upon his arrival, D'Artagnan shows up to warn him that once the King arrives, Fouquet will unable to flee.

Unfortunately, D'Artagnan's warning comes too late. The King arrives and all hope of Fouquet's escape is lost. The King gives D'Artagnan explicit orders to arrest Fouquet and, despite D'Artagnan's inclinations to the contrary, he obeys. A massive chase scene ensues. D'Artagnan is completely wiped out by the end of it, and although Fouquet could have made his escape, the two men go back to the Louvre. The King then orders D'Artagnan to capture Belle-Isle. D'Artagnan is unhappy to hear this order – Aramis and Porthos are likely to defend Belle-Isle to the death.

On Belle-Isle, Aramis is obliged to tell Porthos the whole truth behind their flight. D'Artagnan comes over for a visit and three friends attempt to formulate a way out of their situation. After conferring with his friends, D'Artagnan heads back to the small army he currently commands. Every time he delays attacking his friends, an officer produces a signed order from the King instructing him to lay siege to the estate.

As a last resort, D'Artagnan resigns, assuming that his army must accompany him back to Nantes, leaving Aramis and Porthos free to escape. Unfortunately, the King also anticipated this move: an officer arrests D'Artagnan and someone else assumes control of the army. As D'Artagnan is escorted back to France, he can hear the cannons firing on Belle-Isle.

As the fighting breaks out, Porthos receives a premonition that he is going to die. He is correct. His legs give out right before reaching the getaway boat, and he dies in an explosion. Before his death, however, Porthos took out a hundred and ten of the King's men. Aramis was also crucial in the battle, he was the brains behind the whole fight.

D'Artagnan is angry when he reaches Nantes. He becomes even angrier when the King refuses to see him. D'Artagnan resigns so he can be considered a private citizen. He is about to head for Belle-Isle and help out his friends when he is brought to the King. The two men face each other down and the King manages to sway D'Artagnan to his side. Upon D'Artagnan's request, the King pardons Aramis and Porthos.

D'Artagnan takes off for Belle-Isle to inform his friends. He fails to learn their whereabouts, but receives a letter from Aramis, currently hiding in Spain, bringing him up to speed. When D'Artagnan returns to Nantes, he learns that the King had intercepted that letter. D'Artagnan also learns that Colbert, had interceded on Aramis's behalf.

Meanwhile, Fouquet's weeping friends seek an audience with the King. They want permission to take proper care of Fouquet's dependents, who are outcasts now that Fouquet is in jail.

Porthos's funeral is held at his estate in Pierrefonds. His will is read. He leaves everything to Raoul, with D'Artagnan, Aramis, and Mouston also mentioned. After the funeral, Mouston, Porthos's life-long servant, dies of grief.

Back in Blois, Athos is dying of a broken heart. He cannot bear being separated from his son. He dies as soon as he learns that Raoul has been killed. Minutes later, D'Artagnan walks into the room. Athos and Raoul are buried side by side on the edge of Athos's estate. D'Artagnan finds La Valliere crying over the graves, and shames her some more, telling her that she is responsible for the deaths of two fine men. La Valliere begs forgiveness and assures D'Artagnan that she too will suffer.

Four years later, D'Artagnan has been made into a count. The King has moved on to a new mistress, Aramis returns to France as a Spanish duke and ambassador, and Colbert has been busy with various government projects. France is going to war with Holland. D'Artagnan heads off to war in the hopes of becoming a marshal of France. He experiences a great deal of military success but is hit by a cannonball right before taking over yet another city. Out of the four original Musketeers, only Aramis remains alive at the end of The Man in the Iron Mask.

  • Chapter One: The Prisoner

    • We begin The Man in the Iron Mask with the description of an altered friendship. Baisemeaux is the man in charge of the Bastille (that would be the famous French prison).
    • He and Aramis had always been friends, but ever since Aramis was promoted to hearing confession, the dynamics of their friendship has changed.
    • Aramis is now in a superior position.
    • Baisemeaux leads Aramis to a prison cell, and is then dismissed.
    • The prisoner is a discouraged young man, and makes no move to acknowledge Aramis's presence.
    • Aramis asks the man if he wanted a confessor.
    • The young man says yes, then changes his mind once he takes a good look at Aramis.
    • Aramis looks at the prisoner and is struck by the man's "easy majesty."
    • Aramis asks the obvious question – doesn't the prisoner want to be free?
    • The two discuss the meaning of liberty: the prisoner thinks he's free; Aramis says he isn't.
    • Aramis asks the prisoner about the crimes he has committed. The prisoner replies that he tries not to think too deeply about his situation, otherwise he will go mad.
    • Meanwhile, Aramis has been hinting that he has a revelation for the prisoner. Fed up, the prisoner finally tells Aramis that the two of them can reveal their thoughts at the same time.
    • Aramis argues that the prisoner has lied about his childhood.
    • The two of them finally agree that the prisoner distrusts Aramis.
    • Aramis tells the prisoner that the two of them are actually old friends. They met once in a village called Noisy-le-Sec.
    • The prisoner promises to listen to the revelations Aramis has in store, but first wants to know how and when the two of them met.
    • It turns out that "fifteen or eighteen years ago" Aramis accompanied a lady in black silk to visit the prisoner.
    • The prisoner learns that Aramis was called the Abbé de Herblay, and that he was one of the King's Musketeers.
    • Aramis says that he is the same man.
    • The prisoner admits to having recognized Aramis.
    • Aramis tells the prisoner that if the King were to learn of his visit, he would have Aramis killed.
    • Gaining some confidence, the prisoner explains that the lady in black silk visited him on two other occasions with another person.
    • Aramis asks if the prisoner knew the woman's identity. The prisoner replies that she was a lady of the court.
    • The prisoner tells Aramis that he saw the woman with a man in his mid-forties and also with another lady of the court.
    • Aramis asks if he was always in prison.
    • The prisoner replies that he was once held under strict house arrest. He asks Aramis to explain the whole situation to him, starting with the identity of his tutor (that would be the man in his mid-forties).
    • Aramis says that the tutor was a good man who was compelled to lie to the prisoner about his parents. Although the young man's father is dead, his mother is still very much alive.
    • The prisoner asks if his presence in the world would lead to the unveiling of a great secret.
    • Aramis answers in the affirmative.
    • The prisoner speculates that whoever put him in prison must be powerful.
    • Aramis hesitates before again answering in the affirmative.
    • The prisoner speculates that his nurse and tutor must have been in great danger. Aramis tells the young man that they were poisoned.
    • About eight years ago, the prisoner says, he was living in his house when he went to take a nap after a fencing lesson.
    • The tutor suddenly yelled from an upper story, calling for the young man's nurse, Perronnette.
    • The tutor had received a letter from the Queen, but as soon as he opened it up, it drifted out the window and fell down the well.
    • The nurse and the tutor decided that they must get a young man from the village to go down the well and fetch the letter.
    • As soon as they leave, the prisoner went down the well and grabbed the Queen's letter himself. This secret letter tells him that both his tutor and nurse are of high rank.
    • Eventually he confessed his actions to the tutor and the nurse. He was afterwards moved to the Bastille, and never saw his attendants again.
    • Now it's Aramis's turn to tell a story.
    • Aramis gives a bit of a history lesson. France has been ruled by King Francis I, King Henry IV, and most recently, King Louis XIII, who was a weak monarch and let Cardinal Richelieu do most of the actual governing.
    • King Louis XIII was married to Anne of Austria, who had difficulty producing an heir, until she produced twin boys. That, apparently, is the big secret.
    • King Louis XIII decided not to reveal the existence of the younger twin.
    • Eventually, King Louis XIII dies and is replaced by King Louis XIV.
    • Aramis then hands the prisoner a portrait of the current king (that would be Louis XIV) and a mirror, asking the prisoner to compare the two.
    • The prisoner is shocked to see the similarity. He insists on being allowed to remain in the Bastille. He asks Aramis not to make any promises he cannot deliver.
    • Aramis is, however, bent on putting the prisoner on the throne of France.
    • Before he leaves, Aramis kneels and kisses the prisoner's hand in homage.
    • Aramis raps on the door and Baisemeaux opens it and guides the confessor out of the prison.
  • Chapter Two: How Mouston Became Fatter Without Informing Porthos, and the Troubles Which Consequently Befell That Worthy Gentlemen

    • We learn that since Athos has gone to his estates in Blois, D'Artagnan and Porthos do not actually spend much time together. D'Artagnan spends his time working for the King, and Porthos is usually busy shopping.
    • Realizing he hasn't seen Porthos in two weeks (a huge amount of time considering that in The Three Musketeers, the three friends were inseparable), D'Artagnan heads to Porthos's place.
    • He finds a sad Porthos sitting in his room surrounded by clothes. Porthos is so upset that he doesn't notice D'Artagnan's entrance. Porthos inspects a fabric that his overweight valet Mouston is holding.
    • (If you've read The Three Musketeers, you might remember that the name of Porthos's valet was Mousqueton. Apparently in the twenty-or-so odd years between The Three Musketeers and The Man in the Iron Mask, Mousqueton shortened his name to Mouston.)
    • D'Artagnan coughs loudly to attract his friend's attention.
    • Porthos brightens visibly when he sees D'Artagnan, convinced that his old friend will be able to help him.
    • D'Artagnan asks for the full story, and meanwhile compliments Porthos on all his beautiful clothes.
    • Porthos calls all of it trash; D'Artagnan exclaims that the fabrics are expensive. We discover that Porthos is upset at having been invited to the party at Vaux because he has nothing to wear.
    • D'Artagnan points out that there are at least fifty suits on the floor of Porthos's bedroom.
    • It turns out that Mouston has been going to the tailor in Porthos's place.
    • Although Porthos loves to be decked out in the latest styles, he hates being measured by the tailor. He claims that being scrutinized and poked and prodded was unbearable for a gentleman of his rank.
    • This arrangement worked for quite some time. Porthos ordered up seven suits a week, all in the latest fashion, and Mouston continued to be fitted for them.
    • As you might have guessed from the title of this chapter, however, Mouston started gaining weight. The latest suits therefore do not fit, and the suits of the correct measurement are hopelessly out of fashion.
    • The party is only two days away, and there is no time to have another suit of clothes made.
    • D'Artagnan tells Porthos not to despair, and to pick one of the fashionable suits to bring to a tailor.
    • Porthos tells D'Artagnan that his agent has been round to all the tailors, but D'Artagnan had the King's tailor, Percerin, in mind.
  • Chapter Three: Who M. Jean Percerin Was

    • The King's tailor lives on Rue St. Honoré, which today houses a large quantity of luxury stores, like Hermes and Chanel.
    • Percerin's ancestors date from the time of Charles IX, several hundred years ago.
    • We get three generations worth of Percerin history, which boils down to the idea that the Percerins are expert tailors who became wealthy as they dressed the nobility.
    • Percerin worked for the King, but never worked as Colbert's tailor. (Colbert has an important role, Minister of Finance for King Louis XIV.
    • Percerin does serve as Fouquet's tailor, however. (Fouquet is another important character – he is the Superintendent of Finances.)
    • D'Artagnan takes his friend Porthos over to Percerin's house.
    • Before the two men arrive, however, they're stopped by traffic. Carriages upon carriages are waiting, all with the same destination in mind: Percerin.
    • Porthos despairs, but D'Artagnan points out that if they get out of the carriage and walk, they can gain entrance.
    • When they get to the door, the two friends find a servant politely turning away all the nobleman who are trying to get an appointment.
    • Meanwhile, plenty of apprentice tailors are busy sewing and cutting. D'Artagnan barges in with Porthos by using the King's name.
    • D'Artagnan spots a guy in his forties who seems to be peacefully surveying the scene. When the guy moves to hide his face under a hat, D'Artagnan's interest is aroused.
    • It turns out this guy is kind of a big deal. D'Artagnan recognizes him as a Monsieur Molière, and asks where Percerin may be found. Molière tells D'Artagnan that Percerin is in his rooms, but cannot be disturbed.
    • D'Artagnan threatens Molière. He tells the man to fetch Percerin. In exchange, D'Artagnan will introduce Molière to Porthos.
    • Molière looks Porthos up and down, and then heads off to find Percerin.
  • Chapter Four: The Samples

    • Molière comes back to escort D'Artagnan and Porthos to Percerin's rooms.
    • Percerin is busy examining a piece of fabric, but goes to greet the guests.
    • D'Artagnan introduces the new customer: Monsieur le Baron du Vallon de Bracieux de Pierrefonds.
    • Percerin is not happy with the idea of making a suit for Porthos within two days. He tells D'Artagnan it is impossible.
    • A certain Monsieur d'Herblay, better known as Aramis, chimes in and asks Percerin to make the suit for Porthos. (In case you missed The Three Musketeers madness, Porthos, Athos, Aramis, and D'Artagnan are best friends.
    • Since Aramis happens to be a powerful guy, Percerin consents to make Porthos's suit. He tells Porthos to get measured.
    • Porthos is not pleased. Remember, he hates being measured and says as much to Molière.
    • Percerin, D'Artagnan, and Aramis are left alone in the room. Percerin resumes examining the fabric, and Aramis is annoyed that D'Artagnan hasn't already left.
    • D'Artagnan very cleverly asks if Aramis will also have a suit made for the party at Vaux. When Aramis answers in the negative, D'Artagnan then points out that neither of them have any business at Percerin's, and can leave.
    • Aramis is taken aback and stutters. D'Artagnan asks if Aramis meant to have a private conversation with Percerin.
    • Aramis stutters some more.
    • Aramis realizes that D'Artagnan is quite suspicious . Wanting to assuage these suspicions, Aramis urges D'Artagnan to stay for the private conversation.
    • Aramis tells Percerin that the great painter Le Brun is here. Percerin asks if he wants suit made for him like one of the Epicureans.
    • (We learn that the Epicureans are a poet's society under the patronage of Fouquet. The society meets at St. Mande, and its members include La Fontaine, Pelisson, Molière, and Loret. Percerin is making a suit of clothes for each of the Epicureans, who Fouquet plans on presenting to the King as part of a regiment.)
    • He asks Percerin if the King is having five suits made – one in brocade, one in hunting cloth, one in velvet, one in satin, and one in Florentine stuffs.
    • The information Aramis is after is the cut and the look of each suit of clothes.
    • Percerin is terrified. This is apparently an audacious request.
    • Aramis reveals the plan: Fouquet wants to present the King with a portrait (of the King) on the day of the fête, and it will be best if the King in the portrait is dressed exactly as the real king. Le Brun has been commissioned to paint the portrait.
    • Percerin is aghast at the idea of giving out information about the King's clothes.
    • Aramis convinces Percerin to give up the information.
    • Le Brun begins to paint, but Aramis interrupts him, saying that he has failed to capture the finer shades of each fabric. He asks Percerin for fabric samples from each suit, ostensibly so Le Brun will have more time to study the colors.
    • Clearly something is afoot. D'Artagnan is suspicious. Why does Aramis want fabric samples?
    • Fed up, D'Artagnan says he is going to join Porthos.
    • Aramis joins D'Artagnan and the two friends leave together.
  • Chapter Five: Where, Probably, Molière Formed His First Idea of the Bourgeois Gentillhomme

    • Porthos is radiantly happy with this visit to Percerin. Aramis shakes hands with Porthos, then asks Molière if he is ready to go to St. Mande.
    • Porthos is astonished that Aramis is planning to hang out with an apprentice tailor.
    • D'Artagnan and Aramis reveal to Porthos that Molière is actually one of Percerin's chief clerks and a member of the Epicureans.
    • Aramis and Molière leave.
    • D'Artagnan asks how the fitting went.
    • Porthos is in rapture. He says that they first tried to find a dressmaker's dummy of the same size. He interrupts the story to say that he must remember Molière's name. D'Artagnan tells him that Molière is also known as Poquelin.
    • Porthos says he will use Molière, and remember the name by thinking of Voliere (which means aviary in French).
    • Porthos tells D'Artagnan that Molière then used a mirror to take his measurements. As he tells the story, he keeps calling the tailor "Voliere."
    • Molière had Porthos throw himself on guard – because a suit shouldn't constrain its wearer even when said wearer is fighting.
    • Finally, Porthos gives up on the Volière business and tries calling him Poquelin. He has no better success at this.
    • He tells D'Artagnan that Molière had some lads support his arm, which was starting to get tired of being in fight position.
    • Porthos is very proud of being the first to have his measurements taken in such a manner.
    • The two men leave Percerin's house, and the narrator directs our attention to St. Mande.
  • Chapter Six: The Beehive, the Bees, and the Honey

    • Aramis is in a bad mood. Molière, by contrast, seems to be in a good mood.
    • The first floor of the left wing is filled with Epicureans.
    • Pelisson is busy writing the comedy "Les Facheux." The other writers are also very busy writing, with the exception of La Fontaine, who is simply wandering around the room.
    • Annoyed, Pelisson asks La Fontaine to give him a rhyme.
    • The two squabble over rhymes. Pelisson accuses La Fontaine of rhyming in a "slovenly manner."
    • Molière advises La Fontaine that this is a grave insult that should not be left unchallenged.
    • Molière asks La Fontaine if he ever fought.
    • La Fontaine replies that he fought only once, with a man who had seduced his wife. La Fontaine says that his opponent disarmed him, then apologized, saying that he would never again visit the house.
    • The poets ask what happened next.
    • La Fontaine tells them that he picked up his sword, told his opponent that the house had been very peaceful since the man starting visiting his wife, and that if the visits stopped he would be obliged to duel again.
    • Everyone laughs and they continue discussing rhymes.
    • The men continue jesting, and La Fontaine confesses that he's looking forward to a new suit of clothes.
    • Aramis makes his appearance, and all the men become very quiet. Aramis dispenses invitations, and says that Fouquet sends his regards.
    • Aramis asks if any of the men wish to accompany him to Paris. Molière accepts.
    • Before leaving, Aramis stops in to say good-bye to Fouquet. He tells Fouquet about the portrait Le Brun is preparing, and Fouquet approves.
    • Aramis then asks Fouquet for a letter to give to Monsieur de Lyonne, requesting the release of a prisoner named Seldon from the Bastille.
    • Aramis leaves with Molière.
  • Chapter Seven: Another Supper at the Bastille

    • It is seven o'clock at the Bastille, and Aramis is having dinner with Baisemeaux. Apparently, Aramis is being positively raunchy with his choice of stories.
    • Baisemeaux commands one of his servants to close the windows, but Aramis requests that they remain open. He is waiting for the sound of a courier's arrival.
    • At about eight o'clock, a courier arrives.
    • Baisemeaux would prefer to continue eating and drinking with Aramis, rather than pay attention to the courier, but Aramis skillfully manipulates him into reading the message. It is an order of release for a prisoner named Seldon.
    • Now Aramis must convince Baisemeaux to release the prisoner right away instead of waiting until after dinner. The order says that the matter is urgent, but Baisemeaux points out that this man has been in prison for over ten years, and suddenly his release is urgent.
    • Again Aramis convinces Baisemeaux not to wait any longer. He begs the man to release the prisoner.
    • While Baisemeaux's back is turned, Aramis switches the order for one that he takes from his pocket.
  • Chapter Eight: The General of the Order

    • Baisemeaux finally thinks of a good excuse: the prisoner will have nowhere to go at this hour of the day.
    • Aramis says he will take the prisoner wherever he wishes to go.
    • Baisemeaux gives the order to release Seldon.
    • Aramis asks if he meant Marchiali.
    • The two argue for a minute before Baisemeaux picks up the order and is astonished to read the name "Marchiali."
    • Baisemeaux is deeply confused. He wants confirmation from his superiors on which prisoner ought to be released.
    • It becomes clear to Baisemeaux that this is a counterfeit order.
    • Finally, Aramis writes an order on a sheet of paper that the order releasing Marchiali must be obeyed immediately. He signs it as the General of the Order.
    • Baisemeaux is shocked and tries to decide on a course of action. Aramis very gently tells him not to think too hard about it.
    • Baisemeaux releases Marchiali. Aramis steps forward and offers the services of his carriage.
    • Aramis leaves with the prisoner.
    • They drive into the middle of the forest so the two can have a proper heart to heat. The guy driving the carriage is deaf and dumb.
    • They take the carriage off the road to avoid other travelers.
    • Aramis takes off the pistols he was carrying.
  • Chapter Nine: The Tempter

    • Aramis explains to the former prisoner why the current King is such a bad egg.
    • He then explains that, as leader of the Jesuits, he is convinced that God is using him as an instrument of justice.
    • Aramis explains that he wants the former prisoner (who we're going to call Philippe from now on) to ascend the throne of France.
    • Philippe asks what will happen to his brother, King Louis XIV. Aramis proposes that they simply exchange places.
    • Aramis tells Philippe that there are no dangers, only obstacles.
    • Philippe points out that his conscience may not be so easily appeased.
    • Aramis gives Philippe a choice: a humble life as a private citizen or king of the most powerful country in the world.
    • Aramis tells Philippe that he knows of twenty leagues of quiet country where Philippe can live a humble and rustic life with no dangers.
    • Philippe asks for ten minutes to make his decision.
  • Chapter Ten: Crown and Tiara

    • Aramis is filled with suspense as he watches the prince wrestle with his decision.
    • finally agrees and asks Aramis what he is expecting in return for placing the prince on the throne of France.
    • Aramis elects to table that conversation for later.
    • Instead, Aramis wants to prepare Philippe to on impersonating Louis in court life.
    • Philippe proves to have memorized all the notes Aramis had sent him.
    • As king, Philippe has plans for everyone:
    • He promises to deliver La Valliere back to the arms of Raoul.
    • In two months' time, Philippe promises that Aramis will be made a cardinal.
    • He asks for Aramis's other ambitions.
    • Aramis argues that Cardinal Richelieu's greatest mistake was allowing two kings of France – Richelieu and Louis – to try to rule as one. It's much better to have two separate thrones.
    • Aramis says to Philippe: "I shall have given you the throne of France, you will confer on me the throne of St. Peter." In other words, Aramis wants to become pope. He is convinced that Philippe can rule the bodies of men and Aramis will take their souls.
    • Philippe agrees to this plan.
    • Aramis tells Philippe that Louis will be removed from his bed while he sleeps, and that Philippe will take his place.
    • Aramis asks to kneel before Philippe, but says that they ought to embrace. He calls Aramis his holy father.
    • The carriage begins moving and head to Vaux.
  • Chapter Eleven: The Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte

    • We learn that Vaux is a prestigious palace with an illustrious history.
    • Fouquet wanders throughout his property making sure everything is perfect for the King's arrival.
    • Aramis waves him over to where Le Brun is putting the finishing touches on a portrait of the King. It is perfect. Even Percerin admits as much. Fouquet is so happy that he kisses Le Brun.
    • Fouquet receives word that the King's procession has been seen approaching. He confesses to Aramis that, if the King were willing, they could actually be friends.
    • Aramis tells Fouquet to tell Colbert that, and maybe the man will take pity on him.
    • Aramis leaves to change clothes. We learn that he is staying in the room directly above the King's.
    • Porthos is staying next door.
  • Chapter Twelve: The Wine of Melun

    • The King hopes to pass through Melun very quickly and press onwards to Vaux. That way he has time later to see his mistress.
    • Meanwhile, D'Artagnan is racking his brains trying to understand Aramis's suspicious actions. He concludes that it must all be for the purpose of overturning Colbert's power, to which D'Artagnan does not object.
    • D'Artagnan resolves to catch Aramis alone and ask him point blank about his plans.
    • D'Artagnan is very attentive to the king's military entourage, with the result that the king appears to be at the head of a small army.
    • When they arrive at Melun, city officials start fussing over the King and making long speeches.
    • The King is vexed, and asks who is responsible for the delay. D'Artagnan does not hesitate in pointing the finger to Colbert.
    • The King gets angry when he realizes that there will no time left for with La Valliere.
    • D'Artagnan is nervous as it typically requires four hours for the King's entire household to enter Vaux. Etiquette demands that the King arrive in Vaux accompanied by men carrying shiny pointy objects, but D'Artagnan understands that the King is impatient.
    • He decides to throw the problem to Colbert.
    • Colbert throws the problem to the King, who promptly throws it to the Queen, who throws it right back to the King.
    • D'Artagnan cuts in with a clever idea. He suggests that the King enter Vaux with only the captain of the guards (that would be D'Artagnan) as a mark of friendship and esteem for Fouquet.
    • The King is very pleased with this idea.
    • So is D'Artagnan – this way he gains some time to speak with Aramis.
    • At about seven in the evening, the King and D'Artagnan enter Vaux and are received by Fouquet, who has been waiting for the last half hour.
  • Chapter Thirteen: Nectar and Ambrosia

    • The royal ladies arrive at about eight o'clock.
    • All the delights of Vaux are on full display.
    • Rather than being pleased, the King begins to sulk, because his own palace pales in comparison to Vaux.
    • At the banquet, all kinds of wonderful food are served. Anne of Austria looks down her nose at everything, and Maria Theresa, the young queen, eats well and happily compliments all the dishes.
    • Fouquet and his wife personally serve the royals.
    • As soon as he is full, the King is annoyed again. Everyone seems to like Fouquet.
    • After dinner, the King goes to the gardens and is able to take La Valliere by the hand and say "I love you."
    • The evening is complete. The King is taken to the chamber of Morpheus, a magnificent bedchamber decorated by Le Brun.
    • He asks to see Colbert before going to bed.
  • Chapter Fourteen: A Gascon and a Gascon and a Half

    • D'Artagnan visits Aramis's room after dinner. Porthos is also there, sleeping in a chair.
    • The two men chat for a while, and D'Artagnan confesses that the party is so great, he could believe Fouquet to be the true king of France, rather than Louis.
    • Aramis predicts Colbert will become minister within four months, and that Fouquet will be a ruined man.
    • D'Artagnan wonders out loud what Fouquet is trying to achieve by throwing this fete. Fouquet is ruining himself for the King.
    • Aramis tells D'Artagnan that it is for the purpose of humoring the King.
    • Many of the King's advisers are banding together against Monsieur Fouquet. Aramis tells D'Artagnan that the King is not likely to turn against a man who has ruined himself for the royal favor. He tells D'Artagnan that Fouquet is determined to spend as much money as possible.
    • D'Artagnan tells Aramis he is convinced he has some secret project going on. He begs, in the name of their friendship, to know the secret.
    • Aramis plays dumb. D'Artagnan points to Porthos sleeping in the corner and says that the three of them make an admirable trio.
    • D'Artagnan says he suspects Aramis is conspiring against the King. Again, Aramis plays dumb. D'Artagnan promises to save his friend.
    • Aramis swears on their friendship that he is not conspiring against the King.
    • D'Artagnan accepts this oath. Aramis feels somewhat remorseful that he just lied to his best friend.
    • D'Artagnan leaves and takes Porthos (wearing a beautiful new suit) with him.
    • Once the coast is clear, Philippe creeps out of his hiding place.
    • Aramis tells Philippe that D'Artagnan is immensely loyal, but also a Gascon. If he later learns of the switch, he will keep his mouth shut because he is incapable of admitting he has been deceived.
    • Aramis pulls up one of the floorboards and peers into the King's chamber below. Philippe
    • The King asks Colbert to sit down, which is a great honor.
    • The King asks Colbert where Fouquet is getting the money to throw such a lavish party.
    • Colbert produces a letter written by the late Cardinal Mazarin, documenting that Fouquet received thirteen million in government money that he never repaid.
    • This is a damning piece of evidence. The King tells Colbert he will wait until tomorrow to make a final decision. He dismisses Colbert and calls for his attendants.
    • Philippe is about to draw away from the peephole when Aramis admonishes him to observe the ritual of preparing the King for bed. He tells Philippe to study the ceremony.
  • Chapter Fifteen: Colbert

    • The next day, Vaux is again overflowing with various delights, including a comedy in which Molière is one of the chief actors.
    • After dinner, the court settles down for a game of cards. The King wins a thousand pistols, and Fouquet somehow manages to lose ten thousand, leaving everyone happy.
    • The royal party heads for a walk in the park. The King is especially keen to see La Valliere again.
    • Her love for the King allows La Valliere to see that somebody is in danger of incurring his wrath. La Valliere does not approve and becomes saddened.
    • The King asks her why she looks so sad. She asks why he is sad.
    • He tells here that he is not sad, but rather humiliated by Fouquet's behavior. He asks her if she is on Fouquet's side. She says no, but asks for the source of the King's information.
    • The King beckons Colbert over and insists that he lay out the indictment against Fouquet. He wants La Valliere to approve of his actions.
    • It becomes clear the King is planning to arrest Fouquet.
    • La Valliere protests; it is dishonorable to arrest Fouquet under his own roof.
    • Colbert tries to disagree, but fails.
    • The King, overcome with love for his mistress, kisses her hand.
    • Colbert despairs, but then remembers he has one more hand to play. As La Valliere leaves, Colbert drops a piece of paper on the floor behind her. He points it out to the King, saying that La Valliere dropped it.
    • The King picks it up as torches arrive to flood the area with light.
  • Chapter Sixteen: Jealousy

    • The fireworks begin.
    • King Louis XIV reads the piece of paper, which he assumes is a love note for himself. Wrong. It is a letter from Fouquet to La Valliere proclaiming his love for her.
    • The King is angry. Fouquet notices the change in the King's mood and asks for the source of the problem. The King says "nothing" and heads back to the chateau. The entire court is obliged to follow.
    • Fouquet assumes the King has had a quarrel with La Valliere. Fouquet sends for D'Artagnan.
    • The King requests that Fouquet be arrested.
    • D'Artagnan is astonished. Finally, he asks the King for a written order, mindful that the King may later change his mind.
    • D'Artagnan protests the arrest.
    • Before he leaves, the King asks D'Artagnan to keep it a private affair.
    • D'Artagnan says that is a rather difficult proposition.
    • The King then asks D'Artagnan to simply watch over Fouquet until the morning, when a final decision will be made.
    • The King dismisses D'Artagnan, then paces all around his room, fuming. He now (incorrectly) assumes La Valliere defended Fouquet because she loves him too.
    • The King has an fit, knocks over a table, and throws himself onto his bed.
  • Chapter Seventeen: High Treason

    • Finally, the King quiets down, and falls asleep.
    • The bed begins to sink and all the lovely furnishings of the chamber of Morpheus disappear. The King is convinced he is having a bad dream.
    • Finally, he realizes he is awake. On either side of him is an armed and masked man.
    • The King demands to know what is going on. He learns that he is in a tunnel. The men ask him to follow. If not, he will be rolled into a cloak and carried.
    • The King assumes they are assassins. He follows them down the tunnel. The men lead Louis to a carriage.
    • They go straight to the Bastille. It is now about three in the morning. They send for Baisemeaux. We learn that one of the masked men is Aramis.
    • Aramis apologizes to Baisemeaux for the confusion – it appears that Seldon, he tells the governor, was the prisoner that ought to have been released, and he is bringing Marchiali back.
    • Aramis hands Baisemeaux the original order of release. The poor man is deeply confused.
    • To prevent further confusion, Aramis tears up the original order for Marchiali's release. Aramis then demands Seldon's release.
    • Aramis whispers to Baisemeaux that Marchiali's first move as a free man was to pretend to be the King of France. He warns Baisemeaux that Marchiali is likely to persist in these delusions.
    • We learn the other masked man is Porthos.
    • Baisemeaux takes the King and puts him in the cell previously occupied by Philippe.
    • Before leaving, Aramis tells Baisemeaux that no one is to enter the prisoner's cell without express permission from the King.
    • Porthos and Aramis head back to Vaux.
  • Chapter Eighteen: A Night at the Bastille

    • The King feels awful. He hears a sound, looks around the room, and sees an enormous rat.
    • He gives an involuntary shout, and then fully realizes he is not dreaming, but actually a prisoner in the Bastille.
    • He is convinced Fouquet is behind all of this.
    • The King begins shouting for the governor of the Bastille at the top of his lungs, and in general makes a loud ruckus. The other prisoners start getting angry. They need their sleep after all.
    • Finally a jailer yells at him to be quiet.
    • Louis continues making noise any way he can.
    • He begins to despair, then wonders when the first meal is served. He feels guilty that he cannot remember this small detail about his own prison.
    • A jailer comes in with food and notes that Louis must have been going quite mad to break all his furniture.
    • Louis demands to see the governor and threatens the jailer. The jailer laughs, says Louis is really going crazy, and takes away the knife.
    • Louis is left more desperate and angry than before. The narrator notes that within two hours, Louis has been transformed into a madman.
    • Baisemeaux is annoyed at all the noise as he sits down to his own breakfast.
  • Chapter Nineteen: The Shadow of M. Fouquet

    • D'Artagnan is uncertain of how to handle the business of arresting Fouquet in a tactful and subtle manner.
    • Fouquet is exhausted when he retires to his bedroom.
    • D'Artagnan shows up at the door. Fouquet asks what he can do for the captain.
    • It's clear Fouquet would like nothing better than to hit the sack, but D'Artagnan continues determinedly to make small talk.
    • Finally, D'Artagnan asks point blank if he can spend the night in Fouquet's room.
    • Fouquet is astonished at first, then understands. He asks D'Artagnan if he has just come from the King.
    • D'Artagnan replies in the affirmative. Fouquet asks if he is forbidden from leaving.
    • D'Artagnan continues trying to be tactful, finally admitting that he will not arrest Fouquet this evening. Fouquet draws the necessary conclusions, and asks if he is to be arrested tomorrow. He asks to speak with Aramis.
    • D'Artagnan tells Fouquet he is forbidden from communicating with others.
    • D'Artagnan asks if Fouquet can be trusted to remain in the room. D'Artagnan tells Fouquet that he will go fetch Aramis; he will be gone from the room for about fifteen minutes.
    • Fouquet assures D'Artagnan that he will not try to escape.
    • D'Artagnan leaves.
    • Fouquet opens up some secret compartments and takes out various papers and throws them into the fire.
    • D'Artagnan returns, and, as expected, determines that Fouquet has made use of his absence to destroy some incriminating papers.
    • The two of them exchange a glance conveying that they understand one another perfectly.
    • D'Artagnan tells Fouquet that Aramis is nowhere to be found.
    • Fouquet talks his home, pointing out that no one in all of France has enough money to buy or even maintain the splendors of Vaux.
    • Fouquet asks that the two of them forget their positions in the King's court and talk freely.
    • Eventually D'Artagnan tells Fouquet that he has done all he can to prepare Fouquet for tomorrow. He tells Fouquet to get some sleep. D'Artagnan himself will sleep in an armchair by the door. He tells Fouquet that he sleeps very deeply, but that if someone places a hand on the door handle, he will wake up right away.
    • Fouquet tells D'Artagnan that he is a wonderful man, and he is sorry to make his acquaintance so late.
    • The two of them spend the night peacefully.
  • Chapter Twenty: The Morning

    • Philippe looks around his brother's bedroom and starts feeling like a king.
    • Then he starts feeling guilty as he slips into bed.
    • In the morning, Aramis walks into the bedchamber. Philippe is awake and expecting him. The two men catch up on all the latest events: Louis is safely shut up in the Bastille, and Porthos should be given a dukedom or killed – it's a bit unclear.
    • The next order of business is dealing with D'Artagnan, who is supposed to have a morning meeting with the King.
    • Aramis goes to intercept D'Artagnan and prevent him from entering the bedchamber, where he might suspect something is amiss.
    • As D'Artagnan leaves Fouquet's room, he predicts that he will arrest someone before the end of the day. (This is true, our narrator tells us.)
    • Fouquet asks D'Artagnan to have Aramis come see him. D'Artagnan agrees.
    • D'Artagnan knocks on the door to the King's bedchamber, half-expecting the King himself to open the door.
    • He is absolutely flabbergasted to see Aramis open the door.
    • Aramis tells D'Artagnan that the King wants the court to know he is still sleeping.
    • D'Artagnan is shocked to see that the King esteems Aramis so highly. Last night, the King paid no attention to Aramis, but here he is in the morning, in the King's bedchamber, issuing orders in the King's name.
    • D'Artagnan objects that he had a meeting scheduled for this morning.
    • The King's voice comes from the bedchamber, telling D'Artagnan that they can meet later.
    • Before D'Artagnan leaves, Aramis hands him an order concerning Fouquet.
    • It is an order issuing the release of Fouquet. This clears up the mystery for D'Artagnan, who assumes that Aramis was in the King's bedchamber to negotiate Fouquet's release.
    • Aramis accompanies D'Artagnan. He claims he wants to witness Fouquet's delight for himself.
  • Chapter Twenty-One: The King's Friend

    • Fouquet is anxious as he receives D'Artagnan and Aramis. He learns he is free, and that he has Aramis to thank. Fouquet is more humiliated than grateful.
    • D'Artagnan asks Aramis if he can ask a question. D'Artagnan asks how Aramis became so close with the King, when he's only ever talked to him twice before.
    • Aramis becomes very secretive and tells D'Artagnan that he's actually hung out with the King hundreds of times. They've just kept in a secret.
    • D'Artagnan buys it. And now he's embarrassed.
    • Aramis tells Fouquet that the King has really enjoyed the party. It's clear the two men have catching up to do. D'Artagnan can tell he's not wanted, but sticks around anyway.
    • Aramis not-so-subtly tells the Musketeer to leave; he obliges.
    • Aramis fills Fouquet in on the charges against him – the millions missing from the treasury, and the attempts to woo the King's mistress.
    • Fouquet expresses his happiness that the King has clearly gotten over these issues.
    • After some hemming and hawing, Aramis confesses everything to Fouquet.
    • When Fouquet finally sees the light, he asks with horror and wonders what has happened to the King.
    • Fouquet refuses to see Aramis's actions as divine favor. He is aghast that Aramis has dared to perpetrate this crime under his roof. He is so enraged he almost fights Aramis.
    • Rejecting Aramis's actions and explanations, Fouquet tells Aramis to get out of Vaux, and to get out of France. He tells Aramis that he has four hours to get out of the King's reach.
    • Fouquet is an honorable man, so he tells Aramis that he and Porthos can go to his fortress called Belle-Isle. No one can touch them there without Fouquet's permission.
    • Fouquet gives two of his best horses to Aramis.
    • As Aramis descends a secret staircase, he wonders what to do with either Porthos or Philippe. He decides to leave the Philippe to his own devices, but to take Porthos.
    • After instructing Porthos that they are on a mission, the two men mount their horses right in front of D'Artagnan, who holds the stirrups and bids them farewell.
    • D'Artagnan muses that in another time it would be said the two men were clearly trying to escape pursuit.
  • Chapter Twenty-Two: Showing How Orders Were Respected at the Bastille

    • Fouquet races towards the Bastille, still unsure if Aramis was telling the truth.
    • When he shows up at the Bastille, the soldiers do not believe Monsieur Fouquet could have traveled so rapidly from Vaux.
    • Fouquet causes a grand commotion, causing Baisemeaux to come rushing out of the prison brandishing a sword.
    • Fouquet walks into the Bastille with Baisemeaux, who, was totally ignorant of the crime he helped commit.
    • Fouquet learns that a prisoner named Marchiali was released and subsequently re-instated by Aramis.
    • Baisemeaux refuses to release Marchiali without a signed order from the King.
    • Fouquet threatens to leave and return with ten thousand men and thirty cannons if Baisemeaux doesn't release the prisoner.
    • Fouquet gives Baisemeaux ten minutes to make up his mind. Meanwhile, he starts writing out orders for armed men to storm the Bastille.
    • Baisemeaux finally takes Fouquet to see Marchiali.
    • As they ascend the staircase, Louis's howling can be heard clearly.
    • Fouquet grabs the key from Baisemeaux and tells him leave.
    • Louis continues shouting that he is the King, and that Fouquet had put him in the Bastille.
    • Fouquet opens the door.
  • Chapter Twenty-Three: The King's Gratitude

    • When Fouquet walks in, the King is "the most complete picture of despair, hunger, and fear that could possibly be united in one figure."
    • The King believes Fouquet is there to assassinate him.
    • Fouquet corrects him – he's there to free the King.
    • The King knows he will never forgive Fouquet for having seen him in this state.
    • Fouquet brings the King up to speed on the situation. The King refuses to believe the existence of a twin brother.
    • The King plans to kill Aramis, Porthos, and the imposter twin brother.
    • Fouquet points out that they cannot spill royal blood on the scaffold. The King continues to disbelieve that he has a twin.
    • Fouquet begs the King's forgiveness on behalf of Porthos and Aramis.
    • The King resists, and Fouquet reminds him of the situation. Fouquet is the King's rescuer. He also reminds the King that Aramis could easily have shot him in the forest, and asks that Aramis be pardoned on those grounds.
    • Instead of feeling grateful, the King feels humiliated. He refuses to pardon the two conspirators.
    • As Fouquet and the King leave, Baisemeaux remains completely baffled, even though Fouquet handed him an order showing the King approved the release.
  • Chapter Twenty-Four: The False King

    • Philippe is worried when Aramis fails to show up, but he continues acting like the King throughout all the morning rituals. He is nervous about seeing his mother.
    • His mother, Anne of Austria, arrives with other members of the royal court, including the King's younger brother.
    • Anne of Austria tries to prejudice her son against Monsieur Fouquet.
    • Philippe is not pleased. He threatens to have Madame de Chevreuse (Anne of Austria's friend) thrown out of France. Mother and son have a little tiff.
    • Philippe continues to anxiously await the arrival of Aramis, but D'Artagnan walks in the door instead. Philippe demands to know Aramis's whereabouts, which completely throws D'Artagnan off. D'Artagnan believes the King sent Aramis on a secret mission.
    • Anne of Austria whispers to her son in Spanish. The poor Philippe doesn't understand Spanish, but he's saved from having to respond by the arrival of his twin brother. (Fouquet enters the room too.)
    • For five minutes, everyone is shocked. Anne of Austria is confused and disturbed. Philippe
    • Louis next appeals to D'Artagnan, who promptly arrests Philippe.
    • Before he leaves, Philippe stares down his twin brother and mother, trying to shame them for what they've done to him.
    • Colbert hands D'Artagnan an order instructing him to cover Philippe's head with an iron mask and take him to the island of Ste. Marguerite.
    • Before he leaves, D'Artagnan tells Fouquet that Philippe would have made at least an equal, if not better, king to his brother.
  • Chapter Twenty-Five: In Which Porthos Thinks He Is Pursuing a Dukedom

    • Porthos and Aramis get away from Vaux as fast as possible.
    • Eventually, Porthos asks his friend what the deal is. Aramis responds that their fortune depends on their speed, and Porthos naturally assumes he will be receiving a dukedom.
    • Aramis is on edge and freaking out, as might be expected from a man who got caught trying to lock the King up in prison. He pushes the two of them forward and away from Vaux. The two men change for fresh horses at every post.
    • At the next post, there are no fresh horses available. Aramis starts freaking out again, convinced that the King is somehow behind this, when he remembers that Athos lives nearby.
    • Aramis asks the postmaster for transportation to Athos's house.
    • Porthos is now convinced they are on a secret mission for the King.
    • Athos and his son, Raoul have become closer since La Valliere left Raoul for King Louis.
    • Father and son now spend their time talking about La Valliere, King Louis XIV, and the institution of the monarchy.
    • They are engaged in talking about one of these topics when a bell rings, signaling the arrival of visitors.
  • Chapter Twenty-Six: The Last Adieus

    • Porthos is cheerful and Aramis looks stressed.
    • Porthos brags that he will soon be a duke.
    • Aramis asks to speak to Athos in private, then tells him the whole story.
    • Aramis is convinced that he can salvage the situation through his allies in Spain. He invites Athos to join them.
    • Athos refuses. He asks Aramis to promise to look after Porthos, and loans his two best horses to his friends.
    • As Aramis and Porthos saddle up for their departure, Athos is overcome with grief and hugs his two friends good-bye.
    • He tells Raoul he believes it will be the last time he will see his friends.
    • Raoul replies that he had the same thought.
    • The two men are sad.
    • Athos's friend the Duke de Beaufort shows up for a welcome visit.
  • Chapter Twenty-Seven: M. de Beaufort

    • Beaufort is about to speak privately with Athos when he catches sight of Raoul and invites him to join the conversation.
    • Beaufort explains that he is on his way to fight Arabs in Africa, then asks Raoul to fetch some wine.
    • While Raoul is gone, Beaufort asks Athos to detail his plans for Raoul's future.
    • The two men gossip a bit about La Valliere, then Athos admits that he wants to keep Raoul close to home, since Athos cares about him.
    • Raoul enters the room with Grimaud, Athos's servant, who is bearing a bottle of wine.
    • Beaufort takes a sip, then offers his glass to Raoul, saying that his glass bears good luck. He asks Raoul to make a wish.
    • Raoul tells Beaufort that he wishes to accompany him to Africa.
    • Athos is upset, but respects his son's decision.
    • Beaufort says that Raoul will be his aide-de-camp and will be treated like his son.
    • Beaufort mentions that if he is chastised for taking too much time, he will reply that he gained a recruit.
    • Raoul tells Beaufort that if he is planning on having this exchange with the King, it will be untrue, for Raoul will not serve the King.
    • Beaufort points out that these days everyone serves the King.
    • Athos is momentarily optimistic that the prospect of serving the King will deter Raoul from service.
    • But Raoul reveals his plan to become a Knight of Malta and serve God instead of the King.
    • Beaufort prepares to leave, and tells Athos to meet him in Paris.
    • Father and son are left staring at each other. They are not prone to emotional displays.
    • Raoul finally points out that he is going to die soon, and it might as well be far from home.
    • Athos says Raoul is a free man and can make his final decision when they meet Beaufort in Paris .
  • Chapter Twenty-Eight: Preparations for Departure

    • For two days, Athos and Grimaud are busy preparing Raoul's equipment.
    • Athos and Raoul head for Paris. This is a painful experience for Raoul, who is reminded of his time with La Valliere.
    • Father and son head arrive at Monsieur de Guiche's residence, but are informed he is with the King's younger brother, Monsieur. They go to the Luxembourg Palace and Raoul waits in a hallway for de Guiche, clearly upset.
    • Soon a young lady comes by flirting with an officer of the household. She doesn't realize anyone is in the room, and when she does, tells her lover to scram. She comes over to beg Raoul not to say anything, but then they recognize each other.
    • Her name is Mademoiselle de Montalais, and she is a friend of La Valliere. She tries to talk to Raoul, but he promptly flees.
    • She convinces him to talk with her in her apartment where they can have some privacy.
    • She sends word to de Guiche that Raoul is waiting to speak with him, then asks if Raoul is angry with her. The two of them talk about what happened. Even though Louise did not love Raoul, Montalais thinks that Raoul should have acted faster.
    • Moral of the story: make a move now.
    • Anyway, Raoul and Montalais are interrupted when a secret door opens and Madame (sister-in-law of the King) walks into the room. Montalais shrieks and tries to explain away Madame's presence. Raoul begins to feel he should leave immediately.
    • Then another secret door opens and de Guiche walks enters. Madame promptly sinks onto a couch.
    • Dumas doesn't spell it out for us, but it's clear that Madame and de Guiche are having an affair. Raoul has inadvertently stumbled in on the secret.
    • Raoul swears to keep the secret. When it's clear that Madame is still nervous about uncovering the affair, Raoul tells her that he is leaving France soon, and is unlikely to return.
    • De Guiche is upset to learn that Raoul is going to Africa, the two friends promptly begin talking as Montalais leads Madame away from the room.
    • Raoul tells de Guiche that he is fortunate to be loved. Raoul cannot bring himself to say La Valliere's name, but he makes his friend swear to defend her in the coming years.
    • Raoul continues, de Guiche is to say that it is all done per the request of Raoul de Bragelonne, "who you have so deeply injured."
    • Raoul tells his friend that he is soon setting out for Toulon, but that, if he is free, they should spend time together
    • De Guiche replies that he has time to spare.
    • We learn that Raoul and his father are going to pay a visit to Planchet in order to find out D'Artagnan's whereabouts.
    • The two friends embrace.
  • Chapter Twenty-Nine: Planchet's Inventory

    • We learn that Planchet, who once served as D'Artagnan's valet, now works as a grocer.
    • Athos shows up at Planchet's grocery to find all the employees in the midst of taking an inventory.
    • Athos learns that Planchet is packing his bags; he asks to speak with the former valet.
    • Raoul arrives.
    • Planchet tells Athos that he is selling his business and moving to the country.
    • Planchet points out that they should talk in better quarters. Athos and Raoul begin to ascend the staircase to Planchet's lodgings.
    • Planchet hesitates, but Athos assumes it is because his lodgings are humble.
    • When Raoul opens the door, he surprises a woman getting dressed.
    • The subsequent interaction on the stairs is even more awkward, as Planchet tries to explain and the gentlemen don't really want to hear it. Once the woman, whose name is Truchen, has had time to get dressed, the men go back inside. She curtsies to them and leaves.
    • Planchet plans to marry the woman.
    • Athos then directs the conversation to D'Artagnan, and learns that his friend has disappeared.
    • After a little coaxing, Planchet confesses that D'Artagnan did visit the grocery the other day and spent some time consulting a map.
    • He shows the map to Athos and Raoul, who discern from the pinpricks in the paper that D'Artagnan is heading in the direction of Cannes.
    • The two men are pleased, as D'Artagnan seems to be traveling along the same road they will shortly be taking.
    • They leave Planchet and head to meet M. de Beaufort.
  • Chapter Thirty: The Inventory of M. de Beaufort

    • The narrator notes that saying good-bye to Planchet was like saying good-bye to Paris for both Raoul and Athos.
    • Their only remaining errand is to visit M. de Beaufort's palatial residence and sort out all the details for departure.
    • Like Planchet, M. de Beaufort, (also referred to as the Duke), is making an inventory of all his belongings. It turns out that he owes almost two million, so he is trying to sell off and give away all of his belongings, and then borrow even more money so he can finance the expedition to Africa.
    • M. de Beaufort welcomes his two visitors, and hands Raoul his commission. Raoul will leave before M. de Beaufort as far as Antibes. Raoul will need to prepare the army for deployment in two weeks)
    • M. de Beaufort gives Raoul an order allowing him to search all the isles along the coast recruiting soldiers.
    • Father and son head out, deciding that the whole expedition is really just to satisfy the vanity of M. de Beaufort.
  • Chapter Thirty-One: The Silver Dish

    • Father and son travel at a good pace and take two weeks to reach Toulon. They fail to hear any mention of D'Artagnan, and believe their friend is trying to remain incognito.
    • Raoul begins assembling a fleet, but one fisherman says that his ship is currently in the shop.
    • Athos, convinced the man is lying, asks for details.
    • Six days earlier, a man had come in the night looking to hire a boat to take him to the island of St. Honorat.
    • The gentleman carried with him an immense carriage case, which he insisted on taking on board.
    • This was not part of the initial agreement, but the gentleman won out by using force.
    • On the way to the island of St. Honorat, the gentleman changed his mind. He asked to be landed at Ste. Marguerite. The fisherman disagreed, and the gentleman again tried to use force.
    • They have a bit of a fight when the gentleman drew his sword. Then the carriage case opened and a phantom with his head covered by a black helmet emerged and threatened the fishermen.
    • The two fishermen, jumped out of the boat, and swam for shore.
    • Eventually the men recovered the boat, but there was no trace of the travelers.
    • Raoul exempts the man from service.
    • Father and son decide to go to Ste. Marguerite, convinced that the gentleman in question is D'Artagnan.
    • When they land, they are struck by the beauty of the island.
    • Athos and Raoul wander around the garden of the garrison, encountering no one. Eventually they see a soldier return from evidently serving dinner to a prisoner.
    • The two men hear a shout and then a silver missile hurtling from a window.
    • It turns out to be a silver plate with a message inscribed on the bottom.
    • It's from Philippe, and details his plight.
    • In the next instant, someone is firing at them. One of their attackers orders the attack to halt, and soon D'Artagnan is calling their names.
    • He explains to them hurriedly that they must pretend to be Spanish. The governor of the castle will kill them if he believes they read the inscription on the plate.
    • D'Artagnan introduces them as Spanish naval captains to the governor of the fortress.
    • D'Artagnan takes the silver plate and erases the inscription.
    • The governor invites them into the fortress.
  • Chapter Thirty-Two: Captive and Jailers

    • The governor prepares to receive his guests.
    • Athos asks D'Artagnan for an explanation when they have a moment of privacy.
    • D'Artagnan explains that they attached because they thought the two visitors were in collusion with the prisoner.
    • Athos reveals that he knows the deal regarding the prisoner.
    • D'Artagnan is upset that his friends know the royal secret because it jeopardizes their safety.
    • The governor returns. He is still suspicious, but Athos and Raoul are careful not to let their cover slip.
    • D'Artagnan tells the governor that the Spaniards are here to take in the sights. The governor tells them they are more than welcome to do so.
    • In privacy, Athos and Raoul tell D'Artagnan that their visit is a good-bye visit, because Raoul will soon be fighting in Africa.
    • Athos reveals to D'Artagnan in secrecy that Raoul will die of a broken heart. Athos admits that he cannot bear to see his son die.
    • D'Artagnan is convinced that Raoul might yet be saved, and goes to chat with the man.
    • Raoul asks if D'Artagnan could possibly forward a letter to Mademoiselle de la Valliere.
    • D'Artagnan tells Raoul that La Valliere was following her heart in becoming the King's mistress.
    • Raoul's grief is not assuaged.
    • D'Artagnan tells Raoul that if he goes to see La Valliere, and looks at her with the "eyes of a jealous man," he will stop loving her because he will realize that she can never belong to him.
    • Raoul replies that he can never see her again then, because he wants to love her forever.
    • He shows D'Artagnan the letter he has written to La Valliere.
    • D'Artagnan suggests shortening the letter to: "Mademoiselle: Instead of cursing you, I love you, and I die."
    • Raoul agrees with D'Artagnan's editorial suggestions, and asks D'Artagnan to make sure the letter makes its way to La Valliere after he is dead.
    • On their way back, they spy a vessel being tossed about the Mediterranean. D'Artagnan confesses it was the carriage case used to transport the man in the iron mask.
    • Athos suggests that D'Artagnan burn it to eradicate all evidence.
    • As they walk back to the fort, the prisoner is returning from chapel. He is clothed in black and masked with steel.
    • The prisoner screams that he would like to be called Accursed.
  • Chapter Thirty-Three: Promises

    • D'Artagnan receives a letter from the King ordering him back to Paris.
    • The three men leave the isle together, as Raoul and Athos must return to military responsibilities.
    • D'Artagnan bids his friends good-bye, but within moments is back. He embraces the two men for a long time without saying anything, then leaves.
    • Athos and Raoul return to Toulon and meet with M. de Beaufort, who is busy inspecting everything.
    • The fleet is due to leave the next morning.
    • Athos and Raoul spend the evening talking.
    • Athos confesses that he has not been a friend to Raoul, but will be a friend from here on.
    • Athos gives his son some military advice, and makes his son promise to think of him if he is in trouble.
    • Athos tells his son that the two of them love each other so dearly that when they part, parts of their souls must also part.
    • Dawn is breaking when Grimaud tracks the two men down.
    • Athos tells Raoul that he must not leave alone, and gives him the services of Grimaud.
    • Raoul protests, but Athos insists.
    • The drums begin to roll and an officer comes looking for Raoul to tell him he is expected with M. de Beaufort. Athos prepares himself to part with his son. He gives him two hundred pistoles.
    • The two men finally embrace and bid each other farewell. Raoul joins M. de Beaufort.
    • Grimaud kisses Athos on the hand and follows Raoul.
    • Athos watches Raoul's ship until it disappears on the horizon.
  • Chapter Thirty-Four: Among Women

    • D'Artagnan rides to Paris as quickly as possible.
    • When he arrives, the King is hunting. D'Artagnan spends five hours getting up to speed on all the latest news at court. Some of the most important bits include: Madame is ill, de Guiche is out of town, Colbert is happy, and Fouquet is really ill.
    • Apparently the King has been treating Fouquet nicely but refusing to let him out of his sight.
    • The King is also closer to La Valliere than ever.
    • D'Artagnan resolves to talk to the woman.
    • La Valliere is sitting in the center of a number of ladies, who begin peppering him with questions.
    • The court ladies ask for news about Beaufort's army and its campaign in Africa.
    • A certain Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente asks if any of them have friends who are serving in the army. (She knows exactly what the answer is going to be.)
    • D'Artagnan lists a few and mentions Raoul's name. La Valliere turns pale.
    • Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente argues that all the men headed for Africa are ones who were unlucky in love at home.
    • La Valliere is very pale at this point, but Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente is not satisfied. She is determined to make the woman blush. She tells La Valliere that her rejection of Raoul must be a great sin on her conscience.
    • Montalais comes to La Valliere's defense, saying it is better to refuse a man you know you can't love rather than allow him to think there's a chance..
    • Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente presses the point, accusing La Valliere of killing Raoul if he dies in Africa.
    • La Valliere avoids having to respond by going for a private walk with D'Artagnan.
    • She asks D'Artagnan why he wanted to speak with her. D'Artagnan confesses that his message was already aptly conveyed by Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente.
    • La Valliere is clearly hurt. She goes into another room just as the King enters.
    • King Louis XIV first looks immediately for his mistress, then spots D'Artagnan. The two men withdraw to talk business.
    • D'Artagnan tells the King that the prisoner (i.e., the Man in the Iron Mask), came to his defense when he could have fled
    • The King doesn't want to hear it.
    • The King tells D'Artagnan that he needs him to assemble lodgings in Nantes because he has business there.
    • The King tells D'Artagnan to leave sometime between this evening and tomorrow, then adds that he should bring a brigade of Musketeers.
    • At the castle, the King tells D'Artagnan, he should place a guard at the door of each of his chief advisers (read: Fouquet).
    • The King cautions D'Artagnan to get to the castle before Monsieur le Duc de Gesvres, captain of the guards.
    • A clerk gives D'Artagnan a voucher for two hundred pistoles, to be collected from Fouquet.
  • Chapter Thirty-Five: The Last Supper

    • Fouquet is giving a farewell supper.
    • D'Artagnan has some difficulty being received, but eventually he gains entrance to the dining room, where all the Epicureans are assembled with Fouquet. They have remained loyal to their patron.
    • Everyone is scared to see D'Artagnan, convinced he has come to arrest Fouquet.
    • D'Artagnan puts them at ease, saying he is there only to collect money.
    • It's clear that Fouquet is really ill and his friends blame the King.
    • D'Artagnan receives his money and leaves.
    • After his departure, Fouquet confesses he thought D'Artagnan was there to arrest him.
    • His friends protest and Fouquet compares their current meal to Jesus' last supper.
    • Fouquet is quite sad. He points out that he no longer has very much – only powerless friends and powerful enemies.
    • Pelisson tells Fouquet to think clearly. How much money does he have left?
    • Fouquet has only seven hundred thousand pounds.
    • Pelisson suggests that he flee to someplace like Switzerland.
    • Fouquet decides to stay. He is consoled by the thought of Belle-Isle.
    • He must first go to Nantes with the King, however, and his friends suggest that he depart immediately and with all haste. He can justify his trip to Nantes with the King's impending trip to the city.
    • Everyone is happy with this plan when a courier knocks on the door with a note saying that the King has taken the seven hundred thousand pounds to prepare for his departure to Nantes.
    • Fouquet is ruined. His friends toss various valuable jewelry in a hat so he can have some type of funds.
  • Chapter Thirty-Six: In the Carriage of M. Colbert

    • D'Artagnan is riding at the head of all the assembled Musketeers when he spies Colbert getting into a carriage occupied by two women.
    • D'Artagnan is curious as to the women's identity and so runs his horse right next to the carriage to frighten them. They are revealed as Madame Vanel and Madame de Chevreuse.
    • We learn that Madame Vanel is Colbert's mistress. Clearly Madame de Chevreuse is now on Colbert's side in the game of political alliances.
    • Madame Vanel is dropped off at her husband's house, and Madame de Chevreuse then has time to chat with Colbert. She begins by flattering him and assuring him of her support.
    • We learn that the papers incriminating Fouquet come from Madame de Chevreuse. She asks Colbert what his ambitions are.
    • We next learn that the Queen mother will no longer come to Fouquet's defense if he is in danger, because he learned of her terrible secret.
    • The Queen mother is also out for blood with regard to Aramis. Colbert can make no promises on that front.
    • Madame de Chevreuse is angry that Colbert seems to underestimate Aramis's capabilities. She reveals that he the General of the Jesuits.
    • The two allies decide it is time to return to Paris.
    • The narrator reminds us that Madame de Chevreuse was once a devoted ally of the Musketeers'.
  • Chapter Thirty-Seven: The Two Lighters

    • Fouquet travels rapidly to Orleans, convinced that he is not being pursued. At Orleans, he hires a boat with eight rowers to take him down the Loire River.
    • Fouquet hopes to be the first dignitary at Nantes.
    • The rowers let out an exclamation, for behind them, and rapidly gaining ground, is a boat with twelve rowers.
    • Fouquet and his friend Gourville are astonished; no one, not even the King, travels on a lighter with more than eight rowers.
    • The rowers tell Fouquet that the boat is certainly from Orleans.
    • Gourville and Fouquet are worried.
    • Fouquet commands the rowers to stop so he can get a better look at the boat pursuing them.
    • Fouquet spies Colbert. They wonder why he does not announce himself or draw up next to Fouquet's boat. The boat is also clearly filled with armed men.
    • Fouquet orders his men to begin rowing again.
    • The other boat follows, maintaining a regular distance all day between the two.
    • Towards the evening, Fouquet tries an experiment. He orders the rowers to row closer to shore and pretend that Fouquet will disembark.
    • By chance, a stableman was walking on the banks with three horses.
    • The other boat stops and a handful of men with muskets disembark.
    • Fouquet is pleased that he forced Colbert to show his hand.
    • The two boats continue down the river.
    • Colbert is careful to have his boat remain behind Fouquet's.
    • When they reach Nantes, Fouquet jumps down and gives Colbert a public and ostentatious salute.
    • Fouquet asks, irritated, why Colbert refused to join him or pass him.
    • Colbert says it is out of respect.
    • Fouquet hops into a carriage and makes his way to Nantes. He hears rumors that the King is coming with all speed and is expected in ten or twelve hours.
    • As soon as D'Artagnan arrives, he asks to speak with Fouquet.
  • Chapter Thirty-Eight: Friendly Advice

    • Fouquet is not well.
    • When D'Artagnan shows up at his door, he asks if it is now time for the arrest.
    • D'Artagnan reassures Fouquet and tells him that when the time comes, he will announce his intentions loudly.
    • Fouquet compliments D'Artagnan on his intelligence and heart.
    • He then tells the captain about the race between the two boats. D'Artagnan agrees that does not bode well.
    • D'Artagnan fills Fouquet in on the King's latest orders. They include forbidding any person, horse, or vehicle to leave Nantes without royal permission.
    • Using very careful language, D'Artagnan tells Fouquet that this order goes into effect only once the King has arrived, and that Fouquet should bolt immediately and make for Belle-Isle.
    • As soon as D'Artagnan leaves, Fouquet flies into action and attempts to flee.
    • It is too late, however. Trumpets announce the arrival of the King.
    • D'Artagnan comes by again, saying that the King is inquiring after Fouquet's health.
    • D'Artagnan points out that now that the King has arrived no one can leave.
  • Chapter Thirty-Nine: How King Louis XIV Played His Little Part

    • As Fouquet accompanies D'Artagnan to see the King, a man shoves a piece of paper in his hand.
    • While D'Artagnan is talking with the King, Fouquet reads the letter. In Gourville's handwriting, the letter informs Fouquet that a white horse is ready to bear him to safety. The
    • Fouquet destroys the note.
    • Fouquet goes in to see the King.
    • The King asks after his health.
    • Fouquet makes one last attempt to clear his name and defend himself.
    • A little while into their conversation, it is clear Fouquet needs to go to bed. The King summons D'Artagnan to escort the man. Fouquet refuses, saying that a simple footman would do.
    • Once Fouquet leaves, the King orders that D'Artagnan follow him.
    • He asks D'Artagnan to arrest Fouquet, then orders a bunch of draconian measures like a special carriage to prevent notes being thrown out the window.
    • D'Artagnan admits to the King that he tried to save Fouquet, but says that now he will execute his orders.
    • D'Artagnan leaves the King. As he leaves, he sees a very cheerful Gourville heading to Fouquet's lodgings.
  • Chapter Forty: The White Horse and the Black Horse

    • D'Artagnan suspects something is going on, and investigates.
    • As he walks down a staircase, D'Artagnan spots a white horse in the distance traveling at a very fast speed.
    • D'Artagnan thinks nothing of this fact until he comes across fragments of the note Fouquet was reading. D'Artagnan recognizes Gourville's handwriting and manages to piece together "a white horse."
    • D'Artagnan can now see that the horse is heading for the Loire River, and that it is definitely not an innocent gallop through the countryside.
    • D'Artagnan saddles up his best horse and takes off after Fouquet, taking an alternate road that allows him to gain ten minutes. Still, Fouquet has a commanding lead.
    • Just when he starts having doubts about catching Fouquet, he catches sight of the white horse.
    • Fouquet eventually realizes he is being pursued.
    • D'Artagnan is impressed by the white horse, which is not even gasping at this point.
    • D'Artagnan's black horse is having difficulties breathing, although both horses are traveling at a furious pace.
    • D'Artagnan pulls out his pistol and orders Fouquet to stop. Fouquet requests to be shot, saying he will then suffer less this way.
    • D'Artagnan throws away his pistol and is determined to catch Fouquet alive. He edges closer.
    • D'Artagnan's horse falters. In despair, D'Artagnan pulls out a second pistol and shoots at the white horse. At the same moment, his horse falls down dead.
    • D'Artagnan begs Fouquet to kill him, saying that he wants to die bravely.
    • Fouquet does not reply, so D'Artagnan starts pursuing him on foot. He strips off his extraneous clothing and throws away his weapons.
    • Remarkably, D'Artagnan gains ground on the white horse, which is really starting to struggle at this point. Finally D'Artagnan grabs Fouquet by the leg and arrests him, then asks Fouquet to kill him.
    • Fouquet throws away his two pistols, then gives the exhausted D'Artagnan his arm for support .
    • D'Artagnan faints. When he comes to, Fouquet is waiting for him.
    • D'Artagnan praises Fouquet for his nobility.
    • The two men then need to figure out how to get back to Nantes. They attempt to both ride the white horse, but it soon staggers and falls down dead next to D'Artagnan's black horse.
    • The two men have to walk back.
    • Fouquet is ushered into a specially made carriage designed to prevent communication.
    • He tells D'Artagnan to relay the message "St. Mande" to either Madame Belliere or Pelisson.
  • Chapter Forty-One: In Which the Squirrel Falls – in Which the Adder Flies

    • It is two o'clock in the afternoon and the King is anxious about D'Artagnan's whereabouts. The King questions Colbert, who has no idea where the captain is.
    • Eventually D'Artagnan himself walks into the room.
    • He is in a bad mood. Somebody (i.e., Colbert) has ordered the Musketeers to search Fouquet's home. D'Artagnan is adamant that only the King has the authority to issue commands to the Musketeers.
    • Colbert replies that he acted for the good of the King.
    • D'Artagnan continues to berate Colbert. The King hesitates, unsure of what to do . D'Artagnan pretends he is about to leave.
    • But the King wants details of the arrest. D'Artagnan relates the full story, sparing no detail and admitting his unwillingness to arrest the former minister.
    • D'Artagnan further admits that Fouquet would never attempt escape while D'Artagnan was his guard, but that D'Artagnan would deliberately do a poor job guarding Fouquet.
    • Understandably, the King is not pleased.
    • The King calls Colbert back into the room and has him shake hands with D'Artagnan, who is surprised to see Colbert's face change into that of a noble and intelligent man.
    • D'Artagnan and Colbert leave the room together. D'Artagnan chides his companion for his actions towards Fouquet.
    • Colbert explains himself by saying that Fouquet has been holding him back from greatness.
    • D'Artagnan asks Colbert to intercede with the King on Fouquet's account, but Colbert points out that the King has his own grudges against the man.
    • The King calls for D'Artagnan to select twenty of his men as a guard for Fouquet, who is destined for the Bastille.
    • As for D'Artagnan, the King orders him to take possession of Belle-Isle, using as many troops as necessary.
    • Colbert tells D'Artagnan that such a deed is worth a marshal's baton, but then points out that it will come at the cost of his two friends' lives.
    • D'Artagnan is determined not to hurt his friends. He assembles his men and hits the road.
  • Chapter Forty-Two: Belle-Isle-en-Mer

    • We return to Belle-Isle where Aramis and Porthos are walking around the island, and discussing the curious disappearance of all the fishing boats.
    • Much to Aramis's chagrin, Porthos reveals that he sent the only two remaining fishing boats out to look for the others.
    • Porthos confesses that he is unhappy at Belle-Isle and would much rather be in France.
    • Aramis tells Porthos that they could have left had he not sent out the two remaining fishing boats.
    • Porthos then asks about the orders Aramis has been issuing, which are to hold Belle-Isle against the usurper of the throne.
    • Porthos tells Aramis to sit down on a rock and explain the full story to him.
    • Aramis has told Porthos that they are to hold Belle-Isle against a false king who wants to sell the island to the British. Porthos asks why no other reinforcements have arrived
    • Suddenly a whole fleet of boats appears on the horizon, coming from the direction of the Loire. They are clearly flying a royal flag. These are boats from the King.
    • Aramis asks Porthos to sound the alarm preparing the island for battle.
    • Porthos is confused, but does it anyway.
    • Aramis effectively tells Porthos that the fleet belongs to the false king of France. Porthos believes himself to be enlightened.
    • At night a man lands on the island, asking to see Aramis. He is the captain of one of the two fishing vessels that Porthos had earlier sent out in search of its lost companions.
    • The captain tells Porthos and Aramis that all the fishing vessels have been captured by the royal fleet, which has set up a blockade around the island. The fleet is under the command of D'Artagnan, who is sending them a letter through this captain.
    • The letter reads like this: the King ordered me to take Belle-Isle and capture all of its inhabitants.
    • Aramis turns pale. This is clearly not good news.
    • D'Artagnan requests that Porthos and Aramis come over for a visit. Porthos is all set to go, but Aramis warns that it may be a trap. He asks the fishing captain to tell D'Artagnan to come to the island instead.
    • Porthos is confused. Aramis finally relents and promises to explain.
  • Chapter Forty-Three: The Explanations of Aramis

    • Aramis admits he deceived Porthos.
    • Porthos asks if it was for his own good. When Aramis answers in the affirmative, Porthos is grateful.
    • Aramis explains that, rather than supporting the real king, he has been working for the false king, and that Aramis and Porthos are to be considered rebels against the crown.
    • Porthos is not pleased.
    • Aramis accepts full responsibility for the plot and admits he was selfish.
    • Porthos refuses to blame his friend. Aramis is humbled by his friend's generosity of spirit.
    • Aramis tells Porthos that they may have to defend themselves against D'Artagnan. Porthos is aghast at the idea.
    • Meanwhile, D'Artagnan himself comes running up the steps, accompanied by a naval officer who has been ordered to follow D'Artagnan and be privy to all his communications.
    • Seeking a private meeting with his friends, D'Artagnan commands the officer to step down.
    • The officer refuses.
    • D'Artagnan draws his sword.
    • The officer backs away. (In actuality, this exchange is slightly more complicated.)
    • The three men embrace and start making plans for getting out of this pickle.
    • Clearly, they will not find safe haven in D'Artagnan's ship.
    • Aramis resolves to stay at Belle-Isle and fight. Porthos says nothing.
    • Aramis suggests that D'Artagnan take Porthos away and explain to the King that he had nothing to do with the crime.
    • Porthos asks for some time to think.
    • D'Artagnan comes up with a good idea and whispers it to Aramis, who proclaims it to be infallible.
    • D'Artagnan heads back to his ship, accompanied by the officer.
    • Once on board, he assembles the eight officers serving under his command.
    • D'Artagnan proposes to have the two men in charge of the garrison at Belle-Isle (that would be Porthos and Aramis) to come on board and have a meeting with the staff. This side-steps the prohibition on secret communications.
    • An officer stands up, however, and hands D'Artagnan an order signed by the King prohibiting any kind of council or deliberation before opening fire on Belle-Isle.
    • D'Artagnan has no choice but to smile and say OK.
  • Chapter Forty-Four: Result of the Ideas of the King and the Ideas of D'Artagnan

    • D'Artagnan is furious that the King has anticipated him. He decides to go with the fallback plan.
    • D'Artagnan announces his intention to resign, and says that the fleet must return to Nantes with him. With the blockade raised, his friends will have time to escape.
    • When he asks if anyone objects to this plan, an officer stands up and hands D'Artagnan yet another order signed by the King.
    • Should D'Artagnan attempt to resign, says the order, he is to be relieved of command and taken as a prisoner back to France.
    • D'Artagnan is shocked at the King's foresight and wile. He has anticipated D'Artagnan's every move.
    • D'Artagnan's last thought is to simply take the order and hide it in his pocket, but he soon realizes that all the men on the ship have been given a copy of the order.
    • There is no more hope; D'Artagnan allows himself to be taken prisoner by one of his men.
    • D'Artagnan hears canon shots when he reaches the coast of France.
  • Chapter Forty-Five: The Ancestors of Porthos

    • Aramis relates D'Artagnan's plan to Porthos. (A plan which we now know has failed.)
    • Aramis tells Porthos that if there is only time for one of them to escape, Porthos should go.
    • Porthos refuses. He tells Aramis that they will either escape together or remain together.
    • Aramis asks for the cause of Porthos's gloom.
    • Porthos says he is drawing up his will. He tells Aramis that he feels tired, and that is a bad sign in his family.
    • Porthos tells Aramis that his grandfather was twice as strong as him, but that one day, when he was about the age Porthos is now, he felt a weakness in his legs as he set out to hunt. He was killed that day by a wild boar.
    • Porthos next tells Aramis about his father, who was just as strong as Porthos. One evening, his legs were weak as he rose from the dinner table. He then insisted upon going down into the garden, but while on the staircase he fell and hit his head. He died.
    • Aramis tells Porthos that these do not mean anything, Porthos is still strong.
    • Porthos tells Aramis that he too has felt a weakness in his legs and he knows his time is coming. He says he has lived a good and rich life.
    • Aramis tells Porthos that they still have years to live. Besides, D'Artagnan is securing their escape right now.
    • Aramis has given instructions to have a boat waiting for them in the grotto of Locmaria.
    • Porthos's legs are fine for the time being.
    • Suddenly there is a great call to arms. The fleet is coming.
    • The fighting begins.
    • Porthos and Aramis lead an impressive charge.
    • Aramis calls for Porthos to seize a prisoner. Porthos does so.
    • Aramis laughs at Porthos, saying that his legs must be better, but Porthos points out that he seized the man with his arms.
  • Chapter Forty-Six: The Son of Biscarrat

    • Aramis and Porthos hope to question their prisoner and learn of their enemy's plans. Porthos suggests inviting the man to supper and giving him lots of alcohol.
    • The prisoner is nervous at first as he tells them that the plan is for killing during the fighting, and, if taken alive, for a hanging afterwards.
    • By the sixth bottle of wine, the prisoner begs permission to ask a question. He asks if Porthos and Aramis were once Musketeers in the King's service.
    • He tells them his name is Biscarrat. The name rings a bell with Porthos and Aramis. It turns out that their prisoner is the son of a man named Biscarrat, one of the four swordsmen who attacked the musketeers on the day they formed their friendship with D'Artagnan.
    • Aramis remembers Biscarrat to be the only one of their enemies who they did not wound.
    • Porthos and Aramis are pleased to meet Biscarrat. They shake hands warmly. Aramis immediately thinks of ways he can put this friendship to use.
    • The noise of gunfire rings through the night. Aramis cries in horror, realizing that the previous battle was nothing more than an attempt to give men on the other side of the island time to land.
    • Porthos begins cleaning and preparing his weapons.
    • A terrified crowd rushes into the fort seeking guidance. Their allegiance is to Fouquet rather than to the King, and Aramis finally tells them all that Fouquet has been taken arrested. Although the crowd is determined to resist the royalists, Aramis counsels them all to surrender and obey the King. He commands them to do so in the name of their former master.
    • The crowd isn't happy, but they listen to Aramis.
    • Biscarrat tells Aramis that he may have saved the inhabitants of the isle, but that the lives of him and Porthos are still at stake.
    • Aramis releases Biscarrat and gives him a horse so he can return to his comrades.
    • Aramis and Porthos head for the grotto of Locmaria. It is their final chance to escape.
  • Chapter Forty-Seven: the Grotto of Locmaria

    • Aramis and Porthos proceed carefully to Locmaria. They expect to find three servants there to help them.
    • Porthos's legs go weak again at the entrance to the grotto.
    • Aramis enters the grotto and gives a pre-arranged signal.
    • Porthos descends as Aramis examines the canoe, which is well-stocked with firepower.
    • The servants begin placing rollers under the boat in preparation of the move, but before they are finished a pack of dogs enters the grotto.
    • A fox seeks refuge in the grotto, but it is followed by a pack of hounds, and behind the hounds, men. The King's guards, led by Biscarrat, are on a hunt.
    • Aramis orders the dogs killed so their masters are not tempted to follow and discover the boat. The six dogs are killed, but there are still the sixteen masters left.
    • Aramis and Porthos conceal themselves in preparation for shooting the men. The servants will load the muskets for them.
    • Porthos asks how they are to treat Biscarrat.
    • Aramis replies that they ought to shoot him first, since he can recognize the two rebels.
  • Chapter Forty-Eight: The Grotto

    • Biscarrat and his companions halt in front of the grotto.
    • They are certain that the dogs have gone in, but are suspicious that they do not hear them. Each of the men calls for the dogs, but get no answer.
    • Biscarrat tells the men that he will go investigate the grotto. He goes alone, saying there is no point in more than one person risking his life.
    • After he enters, he feels the muzzle of a musket on his chest. At the same moment one of the servants brings his knife towards Biscarrat's throat, to be halted by Porthos, who refuses to have Biscarrat killed.
    • Aramis comes up to Biscarrat from behind and presses a handkerchief over his mouth, warning him not to say anything.
    • Biscarrat is taken aback. He thought Porthos and Aramis were in the fort.
    • Biscarrat swears not to tell his companions what happened, but also swears to try and stop them from similarly entering the grotto.
    • Biscarrat returns to his friends and is very reticent about what he has seen in the grotto. His friends, believing Biscarrat to be holding out on them, want to enter the grotto. He begs them not to enter, but they pay no attention.
    • Biscarrat waits while his friends enter, and presently there are sounds of gunfire.
    • The men stagger back cursing Biscarrat for not warning them of the ambush. Four men have been killed.
    • The men yell at Biscarrat to tell them who is in the grotto. One man, wounded to the death, demands Biscarrat reveal the identities of the men in the grotto. He attempts to kill Biscarrat and Biscarrat welcomes the murder, but the man dies before he can strike a fatal blow.
    • Distraught, Biscarrat throws away his sword and runs into the grotto crying that he is a dishonorable man and deserves to die.
    • He lives.
    • The remaining men who follow are not so lucky. Only six men, including Biscarrat, remain after the gunfire.
    • Reinforcements arrive led by a captain. The survivors tell them the story and ask for help.
    • Biscarrat tells them that the men in the cavern are prepared to fight to the death unless the captain can offer them good terms.
    • The captain asks how many men there are.
    • When he learns that only two men are defending the grotto, he laughs.
    • Biscarrat asks if the captain remembers when four Musketeers held the bastion of St. Gervais against an entire army. The captain does remember, and Biscarrat tells him that two of those men are in the grotto.
    • All the soldiers are shocked to hear they are about to fight Porthos and Aramis, who are legends in the military.
    • Right now the death toll is ten, while the two defenders remain unscathed.
    • The captain readies his troops for battle.
    • Biscarrat makes one last plea for the men to be let go. The captain points out that he will look ridiculous if he orders the retreat of eighty men in the face of two.
    • He prepares to enter the grotto.
    • Biscarrat begs permission to be part of the first group to enter the grotto.
    • Biscarrat refuses to take his sword. He enters only to be killed.
  • Chapter Forty-Nine: A Homeric Song

    • As for the defenders, they have begun to move out their boat.
    • They cannot escape while the attack occurs
    • Porthos suggests that he hide behind a pillar with a iron bar that he can use to bash in their heads.
    • Aramis says it's a great idea, but points out that they need a weapon that will take out dozens at once.
    • Twenty-five men led by Biscarrat enter the cave. Aramis tells Porthos to wait for his signal.
    • Biscarrat calls his friends onwards, and Aramis tells Porthos to strike. In the next instant, Biscarrat falls down dead.
    • The bar completely annihilates the first platoon with no problems. Meanwhile, the second wave continues to advance.
    • The second wave is led by the captain, who has a torch. The men are shocked to find dead bodies. The captain eventually spots Porthos behind a pillar. Porthos strangles the captain to death and extinguishes the light, sending the rest of the men into terror. They begin shooting blindly.
    • They are met only with silence and the sounds of the third group entering the cavern.
  • Chapter Fifty: The Death of a Titan

    • Aramis leads Porthos into another compartment of the cavern and shows him a seventy to eighty pound barrel of powder attached to a fuse.
    • Porthos is to wait until all the men are together, and then hurl the barrel in their direction.
    • Aramis prepares the boat for departure.
    • They light the barrel. Aramis leaves.
    • As the fuse sparkles, the giant figure of Porthos is briefly illuminated. The soldiers are terrified.
    • An officer tries to get some men to fire at Porthos, but they miss.
    • The barrel falls into the soldiers' midst. The officer falls on the barrel, trying to stop the fuse.
    • The barrel explodes. The soldiers die. Porthos turns and runs for the exit. He can see Aramis manning the boat. Six steps away from freedom, Porthos feels his legs falter.
    • Porthos cannot move, and Aramis cries for him to hurry.
    • Porthos cannot move. Then the explosion hits. Porthos regains his strength, but as he is running, granite rocks begin to fall from overhead. Porthos attempts to carry the giant granite masses, but even his strength is no match for the weight of the rocks.
    • He is slowly crushed. Frantic, Aramis and two of the servants try to come to his aid.
    • Porthos continues being crushed into the ground even as the men work to free him.
    • His last words are: "Too heavy."
  • Chapter Fifty-One: The Epitaph of Porthos

    • Aramis stands and goes to the boat, supported by the three servants. He is full of grief.
    • The narrator delivers a touching obituary.
    • The men row towards Spain as Aramis sinks into a silent, immovable grief.
    • The men soon realize they are being chased, but do not disturb their master until an hour has past.
    • Aramis does not reply.
    • The ship continues pursuit.
    • There are twenty-five men on the ship, and they soon fire a cannon at the little boat.
    • The sailors are afraid.
    • Aramis tells the men to wait for the ship. The little boat surrenders. The terms of the surrender are that the servants' lives will be spared, but not Aramis's.
    • Aramis tells his men to accept the conditions.
    • Once on board, Aramis makes a sign to the captain and shows him the setting of one of his rings. The captain begins obeying Aramis.
    • (We think that Aramis showed proof of his identity as the General of the Jesuits.)
    • Aramis spends the night leaning on the rails, and one of his men later notices that the wood upon which Aramis's head rested was soaked with moisture.
    • The narrator speculates that that moisture was the first tears Aramis ever shed. The narrator says that is equal to any epitaph Porthos could have received.
  • Chapter Fifty-Two: The Round of M. de Gesvres

    • D'Artagnan is deeply upset when he returns to Nantes and seeks a meeting with the King straightaway. M. de Gesvres tells him that the King does not want to be disturbed.
    • Used to having free access to the King and his quarters, D'Artagnan is angry .
    • Worried about his friends, he decides to seek out Colbert.
    • He learns that Colbert is with the King.
    • Really angry now, he returns to the hallway outside the King's room. M. de Lyonne comes out, and D'Artagnan tells him to tell the King that he is resigning.
    • Lyonne relays the message. The King seems fine with it.
    • D'Artagnan is relieved to be a plain citizen again, and wants to head straight back to Belle-Isle.
    • At eight o'clock D'Artagnan is in the hostelry saddling his horse when Gesvres shows up with twelve horsemen.
    • D'Artagnan asks if he is being arrested. Gesvres tells him that the King wants to speak with him.
    • D'Artagnan is annoyed and doesn't care what the King wants or feels, but he walks with Gesvres anyway.
    • As D'Artagnan waits for the King to conclude his business with Colbert, the guards standing behind him make it look as though he has been arrested.
    • Word begins to circulate and all the Musketeers begin to make a ruckus.
    • D'Artagnan is disappointed in the quality of today's Musketeers.
  • Chapter Fifty-Three: King Louis XIV

    • When D'Artagnan walks into the King's chamber, the King has his back to the door and is busy going through some papers.
    • Finally, the King calls out, asking for D'Artagnan.
    • D'Artagnan announces himself. He is clearly in an obstinate mood.
    • The King asks D'Artagnan what his orders were with respect to Belle-Isle.
    • D'Artagnan acts offended, and argue that officers of the expedition were given lots of differing orders, while D'Artagnan himself was kept in the dark.
    • The King says the orders were given those who were judged faithful.
    • D'Artagnan is deeply wounded by this. He is one of the King's most loyal servants.
    • The King then argues that his actions are accountable only to God, and that he is not the type of king who is easily led by his subordinates as past kings were led.
    • The King points out that D'Artagnan was incapable of fighting the King's enemies.
    • D'Artagnan argues that the two men in question were his best friends.
    • The King says it was a test of loyalties. D'Artagnan's friends were rebels whom the King wanted captured. D'Artagnan failed the test.
    • The King tables these considerations to explain a larger issue that historians like to call "absolute monarchy." Roughly translated, it means, "what the King says is law, period." Let's quote Louis: "I am founding a state in which there shall be but one master."
    • The King tells D'Artagnan to find another guy to serve if he wants to manipulate his master.
    • Then the King tells D'Artagnan he will forgive this one breach, adding that by now Porthos and Aramis must have been captured or killed.
    • D'Artagnan tells the King he is underestimating Porthos and Aramis.
    • The King asks D'Artagnan if there is another king of France.
    • D'Artagnan reminds the King that he came to his defense on the day Philippe was in the room. The King is properly chastised.
    • A messenger comes in and the King learns that he has lost a hundred and ten men in taking Belle-Isle, and that the rebels are nowhere to be found.
    • D'Artagnan is proud of his friends.
    • The King casually mentions he has a naval blockade around the island; the rebels will undoubtedly be captured and eventually hanged.
    • D'Artagnan promises that his friends will not be taken alive.
    • The King replies along the lines of "suit yourself." He also points out that he is the absolute master of France; D'Artagnan will experience either the royal anger or the royal friendship.
    • D'Artagnan is shocked by the young king's strength of will.
    • The King offers to refuse D'Artagnan's resignation.
    • D'Artagnan claims that being captain of the Musketeers will no longer carry the same kind of glory and responsibility that it once did. He tells the King, "it taming me you have lessened me."
    • Finally, he tells the King that he will cooperate.
    • The King thanks D'Artagnan, then tells him he will be sent into foreign fields in order to attain the marshal's baton.
    • D'Artagnan begs the King to pardon his two friends.
    • The King does so, granting permission to find his friends, give them the pardon, and then straightaway return.
    • D'Artagnan kisses the King's hand and leaves the palace.
  • Chapter Fifty-Four: The Friends of M. Fouquet

    • D'Artagnan arrives back in Paris after going to Belle-Isle and discovering no trace of his friends. He knows only that they killed a lot of men.
    • Once the King is settled in Paris, D'Artagnan shows up with a sad face. He has learned of Porthos's death.
    • The King admits he knew.
    • D'Artagnan asks why he was not informed.
    • The King says he wanted D'Artagnan to find out for himself. When asked how he received this information, the King admits to reading D'Artagnan's mail. Aramis had sent him a letter recapping the situation.
    • D'Artagnan admits Louis is the only man who could possibly dominate over his friends.
    • The King mentions that he could easily have Aramis killed in his hiding place in Spain, but since he's generous, he desists.
    • D'Artagnan protests that the King's advisers will change his mind.
    • The King admits that it is Colbert who actually advised sparing Aramis's life.
    • D'Artagnan asks the King to receive three petitioners who have been waiting for a long time in the antechamber. They are the friends of Fouquet: Gourville, Pelisson, and La Fontaine.
    • The three men are weeping.
    • The King remains expressionless as the three men file in with faces contorted by grief. The men can't get it together to speak, and the King gets impatient. He tells them there is no hope of pardoning Fouquet.
    • Pelisson finally speaks. They are actually there on behalf of Madame Fouquet, who has been abandoned and destitute since her husband has fallen out of favor.
    • The friends ask permission to loan her two thousand pistoles.
    • The King grants them permission and they leave.
    • The King then gives D'Artagnan permission to see to the affairs of Porthos.
  • Chapter Fifty-Five: Porthos's Will

    • Pierrefonds (Porthos's estate) has been prepared for his funeral.
    • Mousqueton, (Porthos's servant who goes by both "Mousqueton" and "Mouston"), has lost plenty of weight in two days; his clothes hang on his frame.
    • Various friends arrive to hear the reading of the will.
    • D'Artagnan arrives right as the reading is about to begin. He hugs Mousqueton and nods to the guests.
    • Porthos's will first details all of his worldly possessions, then leaves everything to Raoul de Bragelonne, who he considers his son.
    • A tear slides down D'Artagnan's nose.
    • Porthos includes a few stipulations to this bequest, however. He wants D'Artagnan to have whatever D'Artagnan might request, that Aramis receive a pension should he require one, and that Mousqueton receive all forty-seven of his suits of clothing, to be worn in Porthos's memory. Porthos also wills Mousqueton to Raoul, asking that he look out for the servant's happiness.
    • Mousqueton sobs with grief and tries to leave the hall.
    • D'Artagnan offers to take him to Athos's house.
    • The reading of the will is finished and the guests leave. D'Artagnan is left alone to contemplate his friend's last will and testament, which he judges to be admirable.
    • D'Artagnan hears a groan come from an upstairs room, and he is reminded that Mousqueton must be consoled. He goes upstairs to find, in Porthos's room, all his suits of clothes in a giant heap, and Mousqueton on top, kissing the suits.
    • D'Artagnan moves forward into the room and realizes that Mousqueton is dead.
  • Chapter Fifty-Six: The Old Age of Athos

    • Back on his own estate, Athos has been preparing for his death.
    • Since his son is gone, Athos has no incentive to lead a good example.
    • He slowly begins sleeping in and cutting back on all his exercises. He stops speaking. He tries writing to his friends, but his letters go unanswered.
    • Finally, his servants get so worried they go behind his back and get his old doctor to examine him.
    • The doctor hides and observes Athos. At one point, he can bear it no longer and goes directly up to Athos and begs him to get well. The physician sees that Athos is slowly killing himself.
    • Athos tells the doctor not to worry – he will remain alive as long as Raoul is alive. He tells the doctor that his soul is prepared; he is waiting for the signal that Raoul is dead.
    • The doctor reflects, deciding there is nothing he can do to change Athos's mind. As he leaves he tells the servants to always keep an eye on him.
    • Athos stops sleeping. Instead, he lets his mind wander in dreams.
    • One night he communicates with Raoul, who is sad to hear of Porthos's death.
    • The vision disappears and servants come running in with a letter from Aramis relating Porthos's death.
    • Athos faints from weakness.
  • Chapter Fifty-Seven: The Vision of Athos

    • Athos gets out of bed, determined to get in touch with D'Artagnan and take a trip to Belle-Isle to pay his last respects to Porthos's resting place.
    • As soon as he is ready to go, however, he loses all his strength and is obliged to rest.
    • Every time he tries to leave, he is overtaken by fatigue. Clearly, he is not supposed to leave the house.
    • Athos takes a nap. Mail is delivered today, but there is nothing for Athos. He is upset, for this means he must wait another eight days.
    • Athos catches a fever. The physician comes to tend to him.
    • Athos dreams he is in Africa witnessing battle. Night falls and Athos can see fallen bodies under a "mild and pale moon."
    • Athos is horrified as he looks at the corpses. He sees Beaufort's white horse lying on the ground.
    • Worried, Athos looks for his son.
    • Finally exhausted, Athos rests for a moment under a tent. From far away he can see a white figure approaching. The figure is dressed as an officer. Athos recognizes Raoul and cries out to him.
    • Raoul beckons his father to follow him, then glides away.
    • Athos follows Raoul to the top of a hill. Raoul begins to ascend straight up into the air and beckons his father to follow.
  • Chapter Fifty-Eight: The Angel of Death

    • The vision is interrupted by a loud noise. A man on horseback has arrived and is now ascending the stairs.
    • It is Grimaud.
    • Athos asks if Raoul is dead.
    • Grimaud answers in the affirmative.
    • Athos raises his eyes to heaven, imagining that he is once again on the hill, watching his son ascend into heaven. He says, "Here I am," then dies.
    • Athos looks so peaceful that the servants think he is sleeping. Grimaud knows better. He can tell his master is dead.
    • D'Artagnan walks in, calling for Athos. Grimaud points to the bed. It is clear Athos is dead.
    • Grimaud kisses the foot of the bed and begins to cry.
    • D'Artagnan kisses his friend Athos on the forehead. He begins to wail with grief. The servants join in. Only Grimaud remains silent as Athos taught him.
    • The next day, D'Artagnan asks Grimaud for information on Raoul's death.
  • Chapter Fifty-Nine: The Bulletin

    • We get a copy of the letter Beaufort wrote to Athos (a letter that arrived too late).
    • Beaufort writes that Raoul died gloriously, and encloses a report of the death.
    • It goes like this:
    • The attack started in the morning. As per instructions, Raoul stayed close to Beaufort.
    • When a task that would expose him to heavy fire needed completion, Raoul volunteers. Beaufort refuses, trying to spare the young man.
    • The man who takes the task ends up being killed. Beaufort asks Raoul to take note, since he has promised Athos he would bring him back alive.
    • The enemy troops are bombarded and eventually they spill out of the fort to begin fighting on the ground. The corps engages in combat. Raoul is part of the group that surrounds Beaufort.
    • Raoul kills three soldiers. Beaufort commands him to stop, but Raoul rides towards the fort.
    • Everyone yells at him to stop, and when he doesn't, they assume his horse has run away with him. They take aim at the horse, but don't shoot for fear of hitting Raoul instead.
    • Finally, a sharpshooter hits the horse. Raoul continues on foot towards the fort.
    • Raoul goes down as the fort is hit.
    • And thus begins the fight for Raoul's body: the Arabs want it, but the French refuse to let them have it. They engage in battle.
    • Eventually, they recover Raoul's body. He is miraculously alive but has lost a great deal of blood.
    • Physicians predict he will make a full recovery if he rests and does not move even a finger.
    • Later that night, an assistant finds Raoul dead upon the ground, clutching a lock of fair hair to his heart.
    • Full of grief, D'Artagnan notes that father and son must finally be reunited.
  • Chapter Sixty: The Last Canto of the Poem

    • The next day, all the nobility arrives to pay their last respects. D'Artagnan keeps to himself.
    • He helps prepare for the funeral and writes to the King, requesting a longer leave of absence.
    • The bodies of father and son are laid out in the front hall. Grimuad brought Raoul's body back with him (Beaufort had ordered it embalmed).
    • Athos and Raoul are buried by a chapel on the edge of Athos's estate.
    • After the funeral, D'Artagnan lingers to pay his last respects.
    • He finds a woman grieving over the double graves. She is overcome, asking for forgiveness.
    • D'Artagnan discovers it is La Valliere. He shames her mercilessly, saying it is she who put both men in their graves.
    • She says she left court as soon as she heard of Raoul's death, hoping to beg forgiveness from the father, and wound up arriving just in time for the funeral.
    • D'Artagnan repeats Raoul's feelings to La Valliere: no one could have loved her as he did.
    • La Valliere is full of suffering. She tells D'Artagnan that she will never be able to love without remorse. She tells D'Artagnan that she could not help but love Louis, but now she will suffer from Raoul's love for her.
    • La Valliere again asks for forgiveness before she leaves.
    • D'Artagnan is left alone to wonder when he will be buried.
    • He bids farewell to the departed and rides back to Paris.
  • Epilogue

    • Four years later, the King has organized a bird hunt in Blois (Athos's land, remember).
    • D'Artagnan has aged a lot in the last four years. He chats briefly with the man in charge of falconry and the man in charge of the greyhounds.
    • They address him respectfully with the title of Count. D'Artagnan is not used to it although he has been a count for the last four years.
    • The falconer mentions that D'Artagnan must be tired after the long journey from Pignerol (another prison). D'Artagnan was there visiting Fouquet, who does not quite grasp that he is lucky to be alive.
    • The captain of the greyhounds says that Fouquet deserves to be in jail.
    • D'Artagnan promptly disagrees, saying that Fouquet is an honest man.
    • The falconer says privately to D'Artagnan that greyhounds are in fashion these days, otherwise the captain of the greyhounds would never have dared be so impertinent.
    • D'Artagnan smiles to hear this reasoning.
    • The three proceed onwards to meet up with the King.
    • The falconer reassures D'Artagnan that the King will not take long..
    • D'Artagnan is struck by the phrase "the ladies." He tells the falconer that he has been away for a month since the death of Anne of Austria; he's not up on all the latest gossip.
    • We learn that La Valliere has been replaced by another mistress.
    • The King and his entourage approach.
    • La Valliere sits, bored, in a carriage with two other ladies.
    • The King is with a beautiful woman, hanging on her every word. D'Artagnan recognizes the woman but can't put a name to the face.
    • The King greets D'Artagnan and invites him to dinner. The entourage is duly impressed; not many people are invited to eat with the King.
    • Colbert greets D'Artagnan. He says D'Artagnan will meet an old friend at dinner, the Duc d'Alméda, better known as Aramis.
    • The two men embrace. D'Artagnan joins Aramis in his carriage so the two can chat.
    • Aramis points out the King's new mistress. We've met her before – Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente. She's married now, so her correct name is Madame de Montespan.
    • As they chat, the carriage draws near an isolated chapel where Raoul and Athos are buried. D'Artagnan and Aramis go down and pay their respects.
    • As the two men are concealed in the shade, they see the king and Madame de Montespan flirting.
    • As soon as D'Artagnan points out that they are around Raoul's tomb, the men hear a moan behind them. La Valliere has witnessed and heard everything. D'Artagnan helps carry her back to her carriage, feeling pity for her.
    • Dinner is very pleasant. There are no mistresses present, only the Queen, Monsieur,(the King's brother), Madame, Colbert, Aramis, and D'Artagnan.
    • After dinner, the King talks with Madame as Colbert chats with Aramis and D'Artagnan. D'Artagnan, Aramis, and Colbert have a pleasant conversation.
    • Meanwhile, the King asks Madame why she has been crying. Basically, she is upset that her lover de Guiche has been exiled from court since her husband, Monsieur, requested it.
    • Madame mentions, delicately, that she thought about complaining to her brother Charles (that would be King Charles II of England).
    • Madame tells the King that the Chevalier de Lorraine, despite being her husband's best friend, is her mortal enemy. The King and his sister-in-law come to an agreement. He will exile Lorraine, and in return she will help Louis form a political alliance with England.
    • It is decided that Madame will visit England with Mademoiselle Kéroualle to cement the alliance.
    • Basically, Louis hates the Dutch and wants to make sure no one will interfere if he wages war with them.
    • Madame agrees to do it providing her husband consents.
    • The King then goes over to Monsieur, tells him that Lorraine has to travel for a while, and Madame must make a trip to England.
    • Meanwhile, Colbert has started talking business with Aramis, who comes as an ambassador from the French court. He wants assurance that Spain will remain neutral if France wages war with Holland.
    • Colbert asks for D'Artagnan's take on the situation.
    • D'Artagnan says that to wage war with Holland, France will need a large land army. Without English support, the King will be beaten at sea.
    • Colbert admires D'Artagnan's mind. Colbert confesses that the navy actually has thirty-five vessels, and will be increasing soon.
    • In the past year and a half, Colbert has been busy instituting foundries and military docks. He confesses that he has also been buying supplies from the Dutch. The plan is to use Dutch iron for the very cannonballs they will use to attack the country.
    • Colbert and Aramis are astonished at the amount Colbert has accomplished in a very short amount of time.
    • It is clear that D'Artagnan will be leading troops in a ground attack in Holland. Still, he holds out on committing until he is assured of receiving a marshal's baton for his deeds.
  • The Death of D'Artagnan

    • Everyone keeps their promises. English and French navies sail together for Holland.
    • Aramis assures the neutrality of Spain.
    • D'Artagnan commands a small army that manages to take twelve fortresses within a month.
    • Meanwhile, Madame de Montespan increases in the King's favors while La Valliere becomes increasingly marginalized.
    • The King is happy to hear reports of D'Artagnan's success, and instructs Colbert to make D'Artagnan a marshal of France.
    • Colbert sends a messenger with a very small, but heavy chest to D'Artagnan.
    • D'Artagnan is in the middle of directing an attack on his thirteenth fortress when the messenger arrives.
    • D'Artagnan reads the note and is quite pleased to hear he has been made a marshal.
    • He turns towards the chest and is about to open it when a cannonball hits him in the chest.
    • D'Artagnan's men hold out their arms as their commander falls.
    • He utters his last words: "Athos – Porthos, farewell till we meet again! Aramis, adieu forever!"
    • The narrator closes the novel by pointing out that three of the original four have passed away.