Summary and Analysis
The forty pistoles received from the king are soon spent, and although the musketeers receive an advance on their pay from Treville, they are soon broke. Thus they start enumerating people whom they have entertained in the past in order to be invited to meals. When they are beginning to become desperate, d'Artagnan receives an unusual visitor. His landlord, Monsieur Bonacieux, seeks help; his wife, Constance, the queen's linen maid, has been mysteriously abducted — probably for political reasons. Constance is the goddaughter of Monsieur de La Porte, the queen's gentleman-in-waiting; it was through this powerful and influential gentleman that Madame Bonacieux received her position. Both Constance and La Porte are known to be extremely devoted and loyal to the queen (whose heritage is Spanish, whose husband is French, and whose title is Anne of Austria).
During d'Artagnan's discussion with Monsieur Bonacieux, we learn that Bonacieux is d'Artagnan's landlord and that d'Artagnan is several months behind with his rent. But Bonacieux has another reason for coming to see d'Artagnan; Bonacieux is a coward, and he has often seen d'Artagnan duel in the company of the three musketeers, who are known to be brave and expert with their swords.
As they are discussing Bonacieux's predicament, d'Artagnan suddenly sees "the man from Meung" across the street and dashes out to confront him, but returns half an hour later, having had no success.
D'Artagnan explains to Athos and Porthos that "a woman has been abducted . . . and probably threatened and may be tortured, and all because she is faithful to her mistress, the queen." We then learn that the queen is being persecuted by the cardinal for being loyal to her native Spain (an enemy of France); in addition, she is in love with the duke of Buckingham, an Englishman (England is also an enemy of France). Nonetheless, the musketeers agree: the queen, despite her emotional and political bonds, must be defended.
Guards appear and arrest Bonacieux, and rather than defend him and cast suspicion on himself, d'Artagnan allows Bonacieux to be arrested. The musketeers and d'Artagnan agree to try to free Madame Bonacieux because she is loyal to the queen and is the goddaughter of Monsieur de La Porte.
The title of Chapter 8, "A Court Intrigue," characterizes the action of much of this novel. For many of Dumas's early readers, a court intrigue was as exciting as a salacious story in today's National Enquirer, or some other gossip tabloid. Court intrigues and gossip have always fascinated many readers-in Dumas's day as well as in the present.
At the beginning of this chapter, Dumas again emphasizes the motto of the three musketeers; each shares whatever money he has with the others and thus fulfills their motto: "All for one, one for all." By now, d'Artagnan knows that if any difficulty or need arises, he can count on the three musketeers.
The introduction of Constance Bonacieux begins one of the many sub-plots of the novel. She will move in and out of the action until her untimely death late in the novel. She will be d'Artagnan's first love, creating resolute loyalty and adoration in the young Gascon.
Chapter 8 ends with the sudden reappearance of the mysterious "man [in a cloak] from Meung," an appearance which neatly fits the "cloak and dagger" type of novel, another category into which this novel readily belongs.
For d'Artagnan and the three musketeers, the mere fact that a lady who is close to the queen has been abducted is reason enough for them to pledge their talents to solving the mystery of her disappearance. And to facilitate matters, they allow her older husband to be arrested on false charges so that he won't interfere with their actions (and won't be bothering d'Artagnan with such "insignificant" matters as the rent). The chapter concludes with their agreeing on the motto, "All for one, one for all."