Summary and Analysis
Part 3: Chapters 23-24
Arriving home, d'Artagnan learns from Planchet that a letter has mysteriously appeared. d'Artagnan anxiously opens the letter and discovers that Constance Bonacieux requests a rendezvous with him for ten o'clock that night. Ecstatic, he tells Planchet to meet him at seven that night with two horses (Note: at the end of the chapter, the two men meet at nine p.m. instead of seven, a minor slip by Dumas).
Leaving the apartment, d'Artagnan meets Monsieur Bonacieux, who questions him about his recent absence from Paris. D'Artagnan then contacts Monsieur de Treville who, upon hearing about d'Artagnan's adventures in England, strongly advises d'Artagnan to sell the diamond ring which the queen gave him and leave Paris for awhile in order to avoid the cardinal's wrath: "The cardinal has a long memory and a powerful hand. He'll do something against you, you can be sure of that." D'Artagnan promises to leave the next day, but tonight he has other plans. Treville is sure that a woman is involved.
At nine o'clock, d'Artagnan and Planchet wend their way toward the bungalow designated by Constance Bonacieux. Planchet complains of the cold and stops at an inn; meanwhile, d'Artagnan arrives at the bungalow. He waits until ten, then ten-thirty, and then he waits until eleven before climbing up a tree to look through a window. There, he discovers a room in total disarray. "Everything in the room bore witness to a violent, desperate struggle."
D'Artagnan awakens an old man who lives behind the bungalow, and after pleading with him, he softens the old man's sympathies and learns that three men came to his shack and borrowed a ladder. The old man saw a distinguished gentleman take a key and open the door to the bungalow. A woman screamed loudly and tried to climb out of the window, but her escape was blocked by two men on the ladder. They forcibly took the lady to a waiting carriage and left. After d'Artagnan listens to a description of the men, he is sure that one of them is "the man from Meung"; the other description fits the despicable Monsieur Bonacieux. However, he can do nothing until next morning, when Planchet arrives with the horses.
In these chapters we move away from the world of adventure and into the world of romance and intrigue. When d'Artagnan reads Constance Bonacieux's letter, he is elated; no amount of personal danger can prevent him from keeping his rendezvous. Treville warns him to leave Paris that very night, but d'Artagnan will not leave until his rendezvous with Constance Bonacieux, the woman for whom he completed the arduous and dangerous mission to London. D'Artagnan's elation is particularly evident when he impulsively and impetuously gives his servant, Planchet, an "ecu" (about $8.00, probably equal to more than two or three months' salary).
These two chapters continue to present Monsieur Bonacieux as a slimy, distasteful person. We first saw his spitefulness when he refused to go to London to aid the queen. Now we see something so despicable as his helping "the man from Meung" (actually, Count de Rochefort) kidnap Bonacieux's own wife, Constance. No doubt Dumas intended this scene to justify Constance's decision to have a romantic liaison with d'Artagnan.
These chapters also focus again on the immense power which the cardinal wields. Seemingly, Cardinal Richelieu is omnipresent and omniscient — a very dangerous combination. Durnas' precise characterization of Richelieu will justify d'Artagnan's later adventures — particularly when he realizes that he must leave Paris immediately and remain out of reach of the cardinal and his spies.