The narrator of The Three Musketeers also provides a historical overview in this chapter.
Remember the Huguenots and the Catholics from Mousqueton’s story earlier? To recap, the Huguenots are French Protestants who saw Catholicism as far too invested in pompous ritual and overly materialistic. Since most of France, including all the powerful people, such as the King, were Catholic, the Huguenots were not in a good position. Several holy wars ensued, which were halted temporarily when King Henry IV of France issued the Edict of Nantes, (a proclamation that granted the Huguenots religious and political freedom within their own areas.)
One of those areas was La Rochelle.
La Rochelle became a hotbed of civic unrest, and foreign influence. The city revolted, and the Musketeers are on their way to put down this revolt.
Although it’s not historically accurate, the narrator frames the issue entirely around Queen Anne.
The English are a natural ally of the Huguenots, (they are also Protestant and have the added benefit of not liking France).
Still, in the world of The Three Musketeers, the Duke of Buckingham uses the war as a pretext for seeing Anne. The Cardinal uses the war as a pretext to get some revenge on the guy whom Anne currently favors. The narrator points out that the "real stake in the game… was simply a kind look from Anne of Austria."
Since he is not a Musketeer, D’Artagnan is member of a company apart from his friends. The narrator says this might have troubled him had he known the dangers he was about to face.
D’Artagnan is going for a walk to reflect on life when he spots two muskets being aimed at him. He drops to the ground. Bullets fire at him. He runs back to camp as fast as possible while bullets continue coming at him. One of them hits his hat.
He keeps running.
Later, he considers who these enemies could be: the Rochellais, the Cardinal, or Milady.
He decides it must be Milady.
The next day, Dessessart signals out D’Artagnan for a dangerous mission. He asks him to pick a couple men to go with him. The assignment is to evaluate the protection of a recently recaptured bastion.
Four men volunteer to accompany D’Artagnan.
Before they reach the bastion, two of the men disappear.
The rest of them go to check out the bastion and then commence a retreat. One of the men gets hit by a musket ball.
D’Artagnan is trying to help the wounded man when more shots ring out. He soon realizes that these shots are not coming from the enemy.
Quickly, he falls to the ground and pretends to be hurt.
The two would-be assassins—the same soldiers who disappeared earlier—come forward to make sure D’Artagnan is really dead.
He’s not at all dead—he gets up with his sword in hand!
One of the men runs away straight into enemy fire. He falls.
The other man begs for mercy, and tells D’Artagnan that a woman named Milady put them up to this task. The man tells D’Artagnan that the instructions are with his comrade. D’Artagnan tells him to fetch it, but the man is too afraid to venture into enemy fire. D’Artagnan winds up going himself. He finds a letter chastising the two would-be assassins for their neglect of keeping an eye on one particular woman; Milady hopes her assassins will do better getting rid of D’Artagnan.
He keeps the letter as future evidence.
D’Artagnan now fully comprehends what Milady will do to exact revenge on him. At the same time, he realizes that the Queen must have discovered where Milady was hiding Constance, and extricated the poor Madame Bonacieux.
D’Artagnan spares the life of the wounded man; the two of them go back to camp.
Strangely enough, D’Artagnan feels much more at ease regarding his life. The narrator points out that this means he still underestimates Milady.