Study Guide

The Three Musketeers Chapter Four: The Shoulder of Athos, the Baldric of Porthos, and the Handkerchief of Aramis

By Alexandre Dumas

Chapter Four: The Shoulder of Athos, the Baldric of Porthos, and the Handkerchief of Aramis

  • D’Artagnan speeds out of Tréville’s room and heads for the staircase. In his hurry, he shoves past a Musketeer, apologizes quickly, and continues running.
  • The Musketeer gets all huffy and says that the apology is insufficient.
  • D’Artagnan takes a good look at the man and recognizes Athos.
  • The two argue a bit. Both being hot-blooded young men, they arrange to settle it the only way that matters—with a fight. They decide on noon.
  • D’Artagnan continues running after his quarry.
  • Unfortunately, Porthos is at the street gate talking with a soldier. D’Artagnan tries to squeeze past, and in the process, gets swept into Porthos’s cloak. When he opens his eyes, he’s behind Porthos. Under the cloak, he can see that the magnificent gold of the baldric does not extend to the back.
  • D’Artagnan attempts to make his apologies; Porthos demands to know if D’Artagnan always forgets his eyes when in a hurry.
  • The young Gascon quips that he has eyes to see what others can’t.
  • Porthos gets mad. He obviously wants to protect the secret of his one-sided baldric.
  • They decide to fight at one o’clock.
  • D’Artagnan continues running around but can’t find his man.
  • He slows to a walk and his head begins to cool. It’s only eleven o’clock and he’s already looked like a mess in front of Tréville, and arranged to fight two different Musketeers. Excellent start.
  • He reflects dismally on his prospects of surviving a duel with Athos, then starts laughing about Porthos’s deception.
  • He resolves to start modeling his conduct on that of Aramis, who is always mild-mannered.
  • Then he spots Aramis. (Shameless plot device alert!) Aramis is talking with three Guards outside the hotel d'Arguillon.
  • Aramis ignores D’Artagnan. Why should he acknowledge the guy who saw him get chewed out by Tréville earlier that morning?
  • D’Artagnan, all happy to see his new role model, bows and smiles to Aramis.
  • The group stops talking and just stares at D’Artagnan. Awkward.
  • D’Artagnan desperately tries to think of a way to get out of the situation when he spies a handkerchief under Aramis’s foot. He picks it up and offers it to the Musketeer.
  • Aramis blushes.
  • One of the Guards points out that the monogram marks the handkerchief as belonging to a certain Madame de Bois-Tracy. We smell an affair!
  • Aramis shoots D’Artagnan a look that would freeze ice and then tells the Guards that he has absolutely no idea where the handkerchief came from.
  • Right. The Guards are unconvinced. One of them offers to return the handkerchief to the lady in question, since he’s on great terms with the lady’s husband.
  • D’Artagnan interrupts the conversation to say that the handkerchief may not belong to Aramis after all.
  • Aramis proposes splitting the handkerchief in two. The Guardsmen part with Aramis on good terms.
  • D’Artagnan apologizes for his behavior once the Guardsmen are safely out of earshot. Aramis chews D’Artagnan out for being an idiot.
  • Aramis tries to avoid fighting, but he points out to D’Artagnan that his actions compromised a lady.
  • The two quarrel. It goes along these lines: "Why did you give me that handkerchief?" "Why did you let it fall from your pocket?" "I didn’t!" "Dude, I saw it fall."
  • The two decide to settle the issue at two o’clock.
  • Having successfully made three dueling dates, D’Artagnan goes off to keep the first one. He reflects that at least he’ll be killed by a Musketeer.