Summary and Analysis
The next morning, Athos maintains that everything he told d'Artagnan the night before was only the ramblings of a drunken musketeer; there was no truth to any of it. He also confesses that when he got up that morning, he was somewhat muddle-headed and gambled away his magnificent horse. d'Artagnan is deeply disappointed. Then Athos reveals that he also gambled away d'Artagnan's horse as well. d'Artagnan believes that Athos has lost his mind. Then Athos further confesses that he gambled — and lost — the silver harnesses, saddles, and other elegant trappings.
D'Artagnan is speechless. Then comes the bitterest blow of all: Athos says that he gambled away d'Artagnan's diamond ring, the one which the queen gave him. D'Artagnan can only exclaim "My God" in total disbelief. Athos then says that he gambled for his servant, Grimaud — and won back the diamond ring, Then, using the ring, he won back the harnesses. And then he quit. Now they have harnesses but no horses.
Athos convinces d'Artagnan that he should try a toss of the dice that he should at least try to win back his horse, or 100 pistoles. When d'Artagnan wins, Athos talks him into accepting the 100 pistoles, rather than the horse, because he will need the money to continue his search for Constance Bonacieux. D'Artagnan agrees, and they set off on their servants' old horses to meet Aramis.
Aramis confesses to his friends that he sold his magnificent English horse to pay for some masses that he had earlier contracted for, and now he has only the harness left. When they meet Porthos, he asks them to sit down to a magnificent and extravagant meal. Shortly thereafter, Athos asks them to identify what they are eating, and after one of them names an elegant dish, he tells them that they are all eating, as it were, "horse." He realizes that Porthos had to sell his horse in order to pay his debts and eat well. "But," Porthos explains, I saved the harness."
Arriving in Paris, they learn from Treville that d'Artagnan has been admitted to the King's Musketeers, but no date has been set for the formal ceremony. They also learn that they must have their equipment ready in two weeks because they will be leaving for battle. At present, none of them has enough money to buy equipment, and they each need about 2000 livres each. Athos hopes that they can talk d'Artagnan into selling his diamond ring.
While pondering how to get some money, d'Artagnan notes that Porthos is curling his mustache; moments later, Porthos slips into a church. d'Artagnan follows him and watches as Porthos goes quietly up to a middle-aged woman (whom he intentionally ignores) and deliberately flirts with a beautiful and obviously wealthy lady at the front of the church. D'Artagnan recognizes the beautiful lady as Milady, the woman whom he saw at Meung. The middle-aged woman turns out to be Madame Coquenard, the mistress whom Porthos wrote to for money and who ignored his request. As d'Artagnan leaves, he notices that Madame Coquenard is pleading with Porthos for forgiveness. He is fairly sure that Porthos will get his musketeer supplies and a horse.
D'Artagnan was rewarded so richly with the magnificent horses for his friends that he is deeply hurt when he learns that the horses have been sold. He is additionally horrified to learn that Athos dared to gamble with d'Artagnan's diamond ring. But we should remember that d'Artagnan took a great deal for granted when he told the three musketeer friends that they were going to accompany him on his trip to London — that is, they all risked their lives for him without even knowing or questioning why he demanded such dedication from them. Now they have all sold or lost their horses, even though they have the harnesses. This fact is fortunate because in Chapter 29, they learn that they must have full equipment ready in two weeks, and their harnesses are one less thing that they will have to buy.
Chapter 29 also includes mention of Milady, or as we come to know her, Lady de Winter, the person who snipped the diamond tags from Buckingham's suit so that the cardinal could try to entrap the queen. As d'Artagnan increasingly begins to follow her, the novel will frequently focus on her influence over him. Similarly, we see that Porthos has successfully established himself in Madame Coquenard's affections.