Study Guide

The Three Musketeers Chapter Fifty-One: Officer

By Alexandre Dumas

Chapter Fifty-One: Officer

  • The siege of La Rochelle continues. Nothing comes in or out of the city.
  • The Rochellais place all of their hope in Buckingham, believing he will liberate them.
  • The Cardinal waits anxiously for news that Buckingham is incapacitated and will not be sending La Rochelle any help.
  • There was always the question of simply storming La Rochelle and taking it by force, but the city is basically impregnable except to famine.
  • The Cardinal worries that Milady is up to no good since he hasn’t heard from her. He is relying on her to commit the most important actions of the war!
  • Meanwhile, the Cardinal orders little notes to be thrown over the city walls telling the Rochellais that they should surrender, especially since the mayors of the city are hoarding lots of food for themselves.
  • Many Rochellais begin entering into private negotiations with the army, but a spy manages to make it inside the city walls and tells the inhabitants that Buckingham will soon be there to save them.
  • Negotiations cease and the Cardinal’s anxiety redoubles.
  • One day the Cardinal walks along the beach and comes across the (now four!) Musketeers. He wants to hear what they’re talking about, so he creeps closer and closer until Grimaud cries out.
  • The Musketeers stand up to salute the Cardinal, who is really angry about being detected. He asks why the Musketeers have stationed a sentinel.
  • The Cardinal remains convinced that the four are up to no good: they look like conspirators!
  • Athos says they only conspire against the Rochellais.
  • The Cardinal points out that they hid a letter as soon as they saw him coming; he asks what they were reading.
  • Someone says that it is from a woman.
  • The Cardinal asks for details, saying that he is a confessor and can keep secrets.
  • Athos says, calmly, that the letter is from neither of the Cardinal’s mistresses. The Cardinal makes a rapid calculation and sees that in a fight, it would be three against seven (counting the Musketeers’ lackeys). He retreats.
  • The four men look at each other in fear: the Cardinal is clearly angry.
  • Athos asks Aramis if he was going to give up the letter. Aramis said yes, but then he would have run through the Cardinal with a sword afterwards!
  • Athos suspected as much.
  • The men resume looking at the letter, which is from the seamstress of Tours. In guarded terms it says that Constance is at a convent in Bethune. The men want to burn the letter, but out of fear that the Cardinal has a secret method of reading ashes, they give it to Grimaud to eat! They give him a glass of wine afterwards to get rid of the after-taste.
  • As the Cardinal rides away from the beach, he resolves again that the four men should work for him.