The Man in the Iron Mask Summary

Chapter Summaries

Chapter 1 Summary

The Prisoner

For the second time, Aramis, ex-musketeer and current Bishop of Vannes, is in the Bastille. The prisoner asked for a confessor, and Aramis is here for that and another reason. The prisoner is allowed just enough freedom and access to the outside world to convince himself that he is content; his face and voice combine “a martyr’s resignation with an atheist’s smile.” As his confessor, Aramis asks the young man what crime he committed to be placed here; the prisoner says he is not a criminal and scolds Aramis for not revealing why he is really here.

Aramis asks the prisoner if he desires more than he has or craves things beyond his station in life; the young man answers with assurance that he is content. After a silence, Aramis accuses the prisoner of concealing remembrances from his childhood because he does not trust his confessor. That is not surprising, according to Aramis, for if the prisoner knows what he ought to know, he should distrust everyone.

Finally both men speak a bit more plainly. Aramis says he is the musketeer, in the service of King Louis XIII, who used to accompany a lady wearing black silk to the place where the prisoner grew up. The prisoner remembers the woman in black silk. The young man also remembers a time when he was not a prisoner, though he has always lived a highly restricted life. Aramis begins to tell the young man some truths about his life. The prisoner has always thought both his parents are dead; however, his mother is still alive, though she is “dead for him.” He has a very powerful enemy, someone more powerful than his mother, who put him in the Bastille and had his nurse and tutor killed, something the prisoner has always suspected.

The prisoner was raised and tutored as a nobleman and therefore assumes he was not always meant to be locked away in prison. The unsuspecting boy was happy and diligent in his studies. He...

(The entire section is 743 words.)

Chapter 2 Summary

How Mouston Gained Weight Without Warning Porthos, and How This Spelled Trouble for the Worthy Nobleman

D’Artagnan and Porthos rarely see one another anymore. One (d’Artagnan) has been performing a tedious task for the king, and the other (Porthos, a baron) has been shopping for furniture for his various residences after acquiring a taste for luxury while he was in His Majesty’s service.

One morning the loyal d’Artagnan has a few spare moments and thinks of his friend Porthos; he is worried since he has not seen the baron for two weeks and goes to his town house. Porthos is sitting on his bed, half-naked and melancholy. Around him on the floor are strewn a collection of suits, all in “clashing colors” and full of fringe, braids, and embroideries.

Porthos does not see his friend enter the room, as his presence is blocked by Monsieur Mouston, a corpulent man who is now holding up one of his employer’s suits. Man and suit are sufficient to hide d’Artagnan. After hearing Porthos’s heavy sighs for a bit, d’Artagnan finally coughs discreetly to announce his presence.

Porthos is thrilled to see his friend and is sure d’Artagnan will be able to help him. Mouston steps out of the way and Porthos hugs his friend “with an affection that seems to gather new strength with each passing day.” When d’Artagnan asks Porthos why he is feeling so sad today, Porthos dramatically tells him everything. First, d’Artagnan wants to disentangle them both from all the fine clothes on the ground, but Porthos belittles the expensive fabrics and says he has no use for them. He is the only man in the country, says d’Artagnan, who could wear a new suit of clothes every day for the rest of his life without ever having to visit a tailor again; however, Porthos only shakes his head in despair.

D’Artagnan asks Porthos if his various estates and holdings are in trouble, but quite the...

(The entire section is 731 words.)

Chapter 3 Summary

Who and What Master Jean Percerin Was

The king’s tailor, Master Jean Percerin, lives in a stately mansion and his family has been tailors to royalty for generations. He is an old man and is distressed at the fact that he has no son through which the family legacy will pass. Instead, Percerin has “trained several highly promising disciples” and lives grandly on his estate with a carriage and a pack of hounds by special authorization of the king.

Because of his great successes, Percerin, even though he is almost eighty years old, can afford to be selective about whom he chooses to design for; and he is capricious about which new clients he accepts. If someone has only recently been raised to nobility, for example, he is not likely to accept his patronage. He is a man of “wit and malice” who still measures a woman’s bodice with a “firm hand.” Percerin is, of course, the tailor for Monsieur Fouquet, the superintendent of finance; however, there is one man who refuses to seek out the tailor: Monsieur Colbert.

Porthos is distraught at having to submit himself to such an arrogant and uncivil man. If the tailor is disrespectful to him, Porthos is determined to make the tailor pay for it. Again d’Artagnan assures his friend that even if Porthos were not such an important person, Percerin would agree to dress him for the king’s party; however, Porthos is still reticent, explaining that perhaps he once sent Mouston to Percerin and the tailor refused to clothe him.

As d’Artagnan explains again that Percerin will take this job, their carriage is stopped behind a long line of carriages, all lined up waiting their turn to enter Percerin’s home. The two men get out and walk toward the house, bypassing all the waiting carriages. A lackey at the closed door is telling everyone there that Percerin is not receiving anyone at present. Those who are waiting say that the reason Percerin...

(The entire section is 541 words.)

Chapter 4 Summary

The Swatches

As Porthos and d’Artagnan wait for Moliere to return, the noise and confusion in the room slowly dissipate. Ten minutes later, the playwright returns and signals the two men, from behind a tapestry, to follow him. He takes them along a series of intricate corridors until they reach Percerin’s studio. The old tailor is working, sleeves rolled up; when he sees d’Artagnan, he stops and greets him civilly.

When he tells the captain of the guards that he is frightfully busy creating five suits, d’Artagnan says he knows they will be stunning. The tailor agrees but says they must first be created, and for that he needs time. Again d’Artagnan is somewhat dismissive and says that two days is plenty of time; Percerin is clearly not accustomed to being challenged in any way and says he will serve d’Artagnan’s friend—later on, when he has the time.

Porthos says the truth is that a man always has the time he wants. The tailor flushes scarlet and tells Porthos he is welcome to try elsewhere—until d’Artagnan mentions the name of Monsieur Fouquet. Immediately the old man’s tone becomes conciliatory, and he asks Porthos if he is “attached” to Fouquet. Porthos is indignant and explodes just as someone else enters the room. Moliere observes as d’Artagnan laughs, and Porthos unleashes his wrath on the hapless tailor.

In a calm voice, d’Artagnan simply tells Percerin he will make the baron an outfit in time for the king’s celebration because d’Artagnan is the one asking, and he dismisses every objection and protest the tailor makes. Nevertheless the tailor insists it cannot be done until another voice commands him. Immediately d’Artagnan recognizes the “gentle, silvery voice” of Aramis, Monsieur d’Herblay and Bishop of Vannes.

Aramis greets Porthos and d’Artagnan, and his gentle command proves to be more persuasive than d’Artagnan’s....

(The entire section is 792 words.)

Chapter 5 Summary

Where Moliere Might Have Drawn His Inspiration for The Burgher As Aristocrat

D’Artagnan finds a radiant Porthos chatting with Moliere, and Moliere is looking at Porthos as if he not only has “never seen anything better, but who’s never seen anything as good.” Aramis goes straight to his old friend Porthos and holds out his hand with some trepidation, knowing it will be completely engulfed in the baron’s giant paw. After surviving the greeting, Aramis invites Moliere to accompany him to Saint-Mande and the playwright accepts. Porthos, unaware of Moliere’s true profession, is shocked that Aramis is on such familiar terms with a tailor’s apprentice. Though d’Artagnan does tell...

(The entire section is 588 words.)

Chapter 6 Summary

The Hive, the Bees, and the Honey

Aramis, the Bishop of Vannes, is not happy at having met d’Artagnan in Percerin’s studio; Moliere, on the other hand, is elated at having met such a character as Porthos.

All of the most recognized Epicureans in Paris are gathered to create his own part of the surprise Monsieur Fouquet intends to present King Louis XIV during the festivities at Vaux. Two men, Pellison and La Fontaine, are quarreling good-naturedly about whose verses and rhymes are better, and other poets join in the squabble.

Finally La Fontaine says he will only write prose from now on and will burn the last hundred lines he just composed. Unfortunately, they are in his head...

(The entire section is 759 words.)

Chapter 7 Summary

Another Supper at the Bastille

It is seven o’clock in the evening according to the big clock at the Bastille, the famous clock which reminds the inmates regularly that time is passing, and it is time for the inmates to eat dinner.

It is also dinnertime for the warden, and tonight Baisemeaux has a guest: Aramis, the Bishop of Vannes. It is a different Aramis who sits at the warden’s table tonight. He is dressed more like a musketeer, wearing boots and sword, and he regales his host with confidences and stories. Much of his conversation tonight is “bordering on the risqué,” something the warden is accustomed to but not from the bishop.

Aramis asks the warden to send the...

(The entire section is 680 words.)

Chapter 8 Summary

The General of the Order

The warden and his guest, Aramis, sit in silence while they wait for the servant to arrive. It is obvious that Baisemeaux is striving to find a reason not to release the prisoner at least until after dessert. Finally he says it is impossible to release the inmate because it is late and the man will have no place to go for the night. Aramis offer his carriage to take the man wherever he wants to go. Trapped into doing his duty, the warden tells his servant to release the prisoner Seldon.

Aramis gently corrects his host, saying the name on the letter was Martial; however, the warden is certain he has the right name. Finally they look at the letter and the warden is...

(The entire section is 758 words.)

Chapter 9 Summary

The Tempter

Aramis addresses the former prisoner as his prince and says he is usually a man who can read others by the faces they wear; tonight, however, Aramis is unable to read the young man in the carriage and fears he will “have a hard time extracting a single sincere word” from him. He begs the young man to listen intently to every word he speaks for his own safety, for everything Aramis is about to say is as important to the prince as anything that has ever been said. The young man promises to listen without fear or judgment before burying himself even further into the corner of the carriage.

The carriage is as dark inside as it is outside when Aramis begins with a brief history of...

(The entire section is 761 words.)

Chapter 10 Summary

Crown and Tiara

Aramis watches Philip, in his first hours of freedom, take a few unsteady steps and then heave a sigh of joy. It must be intoxicating to think of living a peaceful life in the country, a life without stress, intrigue, or hardship. Aramis watches anxiously as Philip lapses into a deep meditation and asks God to reveal His wishes in this matter. Never has the Bishop of Vannes been so miserable. Though his soul is resolved, his plans may be thwarted because the lure of fresh air may prove too strong for the young prince.

After moments of agonizing, Philip bows his head and then his resolve begins to show on his face. He finally grabs Aramis’s hand and says they must...

(The entire section is 702 words.)

Chapter 11 Summary

The Castle of Vaux-le-Vicomte

The Castle of Vaux-le-Vicomte was built by Fouquet in 1653 when there was little money in France; whatever was not taken by Mazarin was spent by Fouquet. He spent millions on this castle and gathered the most famous architect, landscape architect, and interior decorator in the country to work on the project. The immensity of the roofing alone is enough to require a fortune in maintenance.

It is a sumptuous place from the iron gates at the entrance to the pillared pavilions which lead to the grand edifice of the castle itself. Though it was built by a subject, the castle looks more like a royal building than many of the actual royal structures. The inside is...

(The entire section is 540 words.)

Chapter 12 Summary

The Wine of Melun

The king had not intended to anything more than drive through the town of Melun. He is a man who craves pleasure, and since he has done little more than glimpse his mistress today, he is anxious to get settled at Vaux and spend some time with her. The king had not reckoned on his captain of the musketeers or Monsieur Colbert.

The captain, d’Artagnan, is inconsolable at not being able to figure out why Aramis had wanted so badly to see the king’s outfit ahead of time; though he is certain his old friend is planning something, he is unable to imagine what it might be. He also knows Fouquet’s financial situation and is suspicious of this grand, expensive party being...

(The entire section is 714 words.)

Chapter 13 Summary

Nectar and Ambrosia

The king nods graciously and allows his host Fouquet to kiss his hand; then he waits inside the gate until the first of his carriages arrive an hour later. Madame Fouquet greets her guests, and suddenly light appears everywhere around them. It is a marvel which lasts until they all go inside, and it appears that night has turned to day in a magnificent, luxurious spectacle.

The lavish banquets, concerts, and shows soon cause the cheerful, happy king to become somber and irritable. He thinks about the luxury of his own palace and is aware that it is all the “trappings of royalty and not his personal property.” Fouquet has art objects and dishware handcrafted just for...

(The entire section is 523 words.)

Chapter 14 Summary

For a Gascon and a Gascon and a Half

Once the king rode into Vaux, Aramis retires to his room for the night; d’Artagnan manages to discover his friend’s whereabouts and has himself announced. The Bishop of Vannes is in the Blue Chamber with Porthos and several Epicureans. Aramis embraces his friend and offers him the best chair. The Epicureans sense that d’Artagnan wants a private word with Aramis. Porthos, however, does not leave; he dozes after his huge meal. His snoring does not impede the men’s conversation.

D’Artagnan feels as if he should begin the conversation since he is the one who is “seeking a stringent commitment.” After a moment of small talk, d’Artagnan shares...

(The entire section is 787 words.)

Chapter 15 Summary

Colbert

The next day a grand festival is held for the king, a day full of walks, banquets, and performances. (Surprisingly, Porthos even recognizes Moliere acting on stage.) It is a dazzling day, full of surprises, and the king does nothing about the information Colbert gave him last night. He does, however, seem aloof and taciturn, and nothing around him rouses him to cheer. By noon he seems to display a bit more serenity, and it is likely he has decided what to do about Fouquet.

Aramis has been following every step and nuance of the king and is expecting something to happen. All day the king seems to be seeking out his mistress, Mademoiselle de la Valliere, as much as he tries to escape...

(The entire section is 788 words.)

Chapter 16 Summary

Jealousy

Because of the festivities and Valliere’s impassioned argument, the king suspends his decision to have Fouquet arrested. In fact, he feels a strange gratitude to the superintendent of finances for allowing the king to see his mistress’s generous heart and the magnitude of his love for her.

The fireworks have begun. Colbert stands twenty paces from the king and desperately tries to get his attention, but the king is distracted by the show and does not notice. As the king is about to offer his hand to Fouquet, he feels the document Valliere seemed to have dropped.  As the fireworks burst in the sky above him, the king reads what he imagines to be a love letter from his mistress....

(The entire section is 758 words.)

Chapter 17 Summary

Lese-Majeste

The young king is asleep from the exhaustion of his anger within fifteen minutes. In his dreams, the king imagines he sees figures coming to life from the dome above him. One of the figures looks like him, only the eyes are saddened with pity. Soon the paintings and velvet curtains around him begin to fade, replaced with somber gray walls. His bed has been dragged into a place with icy, black air, like the bottom of a well, and the king struggles to wake himself out of this horrible dream.

Now the king realizes that he is already awake and this is not a dream. Armed men in masks flank his bed and there is a dim red light illuminating the bizarre scene. When he jumps out of bed...

(The entire section is 686 words.)

Chapter 18 Summary

A Night in the Bastille

Suffering is given by God according to a man’s strength, and the weak generally suffer more than the strong. The young king wonders if this is what death is: his bed being dropped through the floor of his bedroom and then true horrors such as the “dethronement, incarceration, and degradation of a once omnipotent monarch.” He wonders if this is hell and whether this torture will last for an eternity. So convinced is he that he is dead that the former king does not even look around, trying to avoid seeing something even worse.

The young prisoner comes to the conclusion that God cannot punish him because he has done nothing wrong. Suddenly he hears a rustling and...

(The entire section is 719 words.)

Chapter 19 Summary

Monsieur Fouquet’s Shadow

When d’Artagnan leaves the king’s chamber, he knows he will be delivering Fouquet to his death, since the king hates him; however, Fouquet has proved himself, by this celebration, to be a man of honor and this task plagues d’Artagnan’s conscience.

He considers telling Fouquet the king’s intentions, but that would make him a traitor and treason is a capital offense in military law. He considers three reasons why Fouquet may be out of favor with the king: Colbert does not like Fouquet, Fouquet once dared to love Valliere, and the king loves Colbert and Valliere. D’Artagnan will wait and conduct himself like a “man of breeding.”

Fouquet is...

(The entire section is 784 words.)

Chapter 20 Summary

Morning

While the former king is despairing in his prison cell, Philip finds himself in front of the royal bed which had reappeared after delivering the prisoner to the underground tunnels. Now, for the first time, Philip allows his emotions to overtake him until he stares at the empty, rumpled bed where his brother had just been lying. Philip wonders if his “destiny will be more appalling than his captivity was sorrowful.”

He forces himself to adopt Aramis’s philosophy that action must always be one step higher than thought. If Louis XIV had not had him imprisoned, Philip would be entitled to all of these royal trappings, and he convinces himself to be ruthless with the usurper who...

(The entire section is 779 words.)

Chapter 21 Summary

The King’s Friend

Fouquet waits fearfully, dismissing servants and friends who come to his door and masking his concern for his impending doom. When he sees d’Artagnan with Aramis, he is overjoyed. The bishop is silent and d’Artagnan is overwhelmed by this morning’s turn of events.

D’Artagnan says he has brought Fouquet’s release, something for which he can thank the bishop, as he is the one who changed the king’s mind. Fouquet is more humiliated by this exceptional act of service than he is grateful for the pardon. Now d’Artagnan asks Aramis a favor, and the bishop calmly says he will do anything his friend wishes. D’Artagnan wants to know how, when Aramis and the...

(The entire section is 769 words.)

Chapter 22 Summary

How Orders Were Respected in the Bastille

Fouquet’s carriage is racing to Paris and Fouquet himself is horrified at what Aramis has just confided in him; in fact, he wonders whether it had all been a dream. When the carriage stops for fresh horses, Fouquet issues several sealed orders addressed to d’Artagnan and the other loyal corps leaders. If he is taken prisoner, he at least will have done the honorable thing. The orders will not be opened until he returns a free man and they will therefore never be unsealed; if, however, he is delayed, he will have helped himself and the king by the orders.

Finally he reaches the Bastille, but nothing he says gains him admission and no one will...

(The entire section is 699 words.)

Chapter 23 Summary

The King’s Gratitude

Fouquet and the imprisoned king suddenly come face-to-face, both men halting when they recognize the other and emitting cries of dismay. The king asks if Fouquet has come to “finish him off,” and the superintendent mutters to himself that the king is in “such a state.”

The king is a mess. His garments are tattered and soaked in sweat and blood seeps from his chest and arms. He is haggard and foaming at the mouth, and his hair is bristling. “Louis XIV is the epitome of despair, hunger, and terror in a single figure.” Fouquet is so moved that he opens his arms and moves toward the king, his eyes filled with tears at what he sees. The king raises the leg of a...

(The entire section is 768 words.)

Chapter 24 Summary

The False King

The usurper king is playing his role perfectly. Aramis has not returned, but Philip assumes he will not be gone for long and proceeds, anxious to test his “bravery and good fortune” without help. He knows Anne of Austria will appear. If this will be a weakness for him, Philip does not want Aramis to see it.

He receives visitors, relying on his memory and Aramis’s notes to recognize them. First to arrive is Anne of Austria who is led in by her younger son; Philip smiles but shivers when he sees his mother. She is a beautiful woman whom Louis XIV loves, so Philip vows to do the same rather than resent or punish her.

Philip looks at his younger brother with...

(The entire section is 806 words.)

Chapter 25 Summary

Porthos Believes He Is Pursuing a Dukedom

Porthos and Aramis are racing away from Vaux, taking advantage of the four-hour start Fouquet gave them. Though Porthos does not understand the mission they are on, he keeps pace with Aramis. Eventually they have to stop to change horses. When Porthos discreetly questions Aramis, all the bishop says is that their fates depend on how fast they ride. As if he were still the penniless musketeer of 1626, Porthos charges ahead, assuming good things are to come. In fact, he anticipates being made a duke and spurs his horse to ride even faster.

Mentally, Aramis is suffering from the brutal mental combat he has fought, and this physical ride is difficult for...

(The entire section is 614 words.)

Chapter 26 Summary

The Final Farewells

Raoul embraces Porthos with great joy as Aramis and Athos embrace more tentatively. Aramis says they will not be staying for long; Porthos says they will stay just long enough for him to tell them about his good news. He whispers to Raoul that the king is making him a duke, but Porthos has always had a loud voice and Athos also hears the news. The entire episode makes Aramis wince, for he knows the truth of this journey.

He takes Athos aside and tells his friend he is “prostrate with grief.” In a few words, he tells Athos that he has conspired against the king, his plot failed, and now the king is probably hunting for him. Athos is stunned and asks about Porthos and...

(The entire section is 654 words.)

Chapter 27 Summary

The Duke de Beaufort

Raoul prepares to leave the room so his father and the duke can speak, but the duke asks him to stay. The prince has said many kind things about Raoul, and now Beaufort asks Athos if he will give permission for Raoul to serve with him.

The duke explains that he has come to say his farewell because the king is sending him to Africa to conquer the Arabs. It is an odd thing (and the duke knows it) to think about such a Parisian man moving to such a foreign place. Athos scarcely believes it, but it is true. The duke has been restored to the king’s favor, and he has accepted this honor not for glory but because he is going to die sometime and this will ensure that people...

(The entire section is 802 words.)

Chapter 28 Summary

Preparations for Departure

During the next two days, Athos sets his grief aside and focuses his energy on equipping Raoul for his new venture. Grimaud gathers the equipment while Athos and Raoul leave for Paris the day after the duke’s visit. Everything and everyone in Paris are an excruciating reminder to Raoul of the pain he suffered here, and as they near the city Raoul feels as if he is about to die.

When he asks for Monsieur de Guiche, he is told to look for him at the Luxembourg Palace. When he arrives, people are enjoying all manner of fun, and the joyful spirit of the place only serves to depress Raoul even further. While he waits to be announced to de Guiche, he unavoidably meets...

(The entire section is 685 words.)

Chapter 29 Summary

Planchet’s Inventory

While Raoul visits his friend de Guiche, Athos goes to Planchet, d’Artagnan’s former servant, to see if he can locate his fellow musketeer. The grocer’s store is in the midst of an inventory, and busy people fill the place. When he sees customers being impatiently shown the door, Athos knows he is likely to be in the way, as well, and asks to see Monsieur Planchet. The boy he asks carelessly says Planchet is packing his trunks because he is going on a trip.

When Athos asks someone to announce that the Count de La Fere would like to speak with Planchet, a boy quickly obeys. Just then Raoul arrives and Planchet hurries over to join them. Noticing his son’s sad...

(The entire section is 558 words.)

Chapter 30 Summary

The Duke de Beaufort’s Inventory

After discussing d’Artagnan with Planchet the grocer and knowing Planchet is leaving Paris to retire, Athos and Raoul realize this is their last goodbye to Paris and the life they once had here. “The father had exhausted the entire past century with glory, and the son had exhausted the entire new age with misery.” Clearly neither man has anything to ask or tell his contemporaries, so all that remains is to visit the Duke de Beaufort and arrange the conditions for Raoul’s departure and service.

The duke has magnificent lodgings in Paris and lives an extravagant lifestyle; however, no one (including the duke himself) knows how he pays for such...

(The entire section is 748 words.)

Chapter 31 Summary

The Silver Plate

The journey across France goes smoothly for Athos and his son. It takes them two weeks to reach Toulon and they have not found d’Artagnan; though people have seen a man of his description, it is clear that d’Artagnan does not want to be known. Raoul is in despair, for he yearns to tell his steadfast friend farewell. From experience, Athos knows this is exactly the way d’Artagnan behaves when he is on a serious mission for himself or for the king.

Raoul begins his job of gathering ships for a flotilla. One fisherman explains that he has just put his boat in dry dock for repairs after ferrying an aristocrat who was in a dreadful hurry. Athos asks for details, assuming...

(The entire section is 790 words.)

Chapter 32 Summary

Captive and Jailers

As the governor prepares for his guests, d’Artagnan hurriedly explains that he has accompanied a prisoner the king does not want anyone to see. When he saw the prisoner throw something out of the window and saw Raoul pick it up, he assumed there was an illicit communication happening. Thankfully d’Artagnan was the first to pick up a musket but was the last to aim it, which saved their lives.

Athos says it would have been an honor to die at the hands of d’Artagnan, “the king’s noblest and most loyal defender.” Though d’Artagnan suggests the plate was nothing more than the ravings of a lunatic, Athos believes it and convinces his friend that he knows the...

(The entire section is 808 words.)

Chapter 33 Summary

Promises

A ship has arrived with an important dispatch for d’Artagnan; the king assumes the prisoner is settled and commands d’Artagnan to return to Paris immediately and meet him at his Louvre castle. The musketeer is overjoyed but Athos is not. The captain of the guard invites Athos to travel with him since Raoul is leaving, but Athos will not be separated from his son until Raoul leaves France. The three men leave the island together after d’Artagnan ordered the carriage to be burned.

D’Artagnan sees how miserable his friends look and offers to ask the king if he can take a hundred musketeers, including Athos, to fight with Raoul in Africa. Raoul commends his father to...

(The entire section is 794 words.)

Chapter 34 Summary

Among Women

When d’Artagnan told Athos and Raoul goodbye, he was unable to contain his emotions. For those few moments, the stoic musketeer had succumbed to his foreboding fear out of his human weakness. Now he quiets his heart and calms his unsteady nerves and rides furiously to Paris.

As he rides, he ponders why the king has summoned him and why Philip threw the silver plate at Raoul. D’Artagnan has no idea what the king might want, but he knows it must be important. It is likely Louis XIV feels compelled to have a conversation with someone who knows and understands—and will safeguard—his dreadful secret. This knowledge makes d’Artagnan one of the most powerful people in the...

(The entire section is 800 words.)

Chapter 35 Summary

The Last Supper

Fouquet is hosting a farewell party for his friends when D’Artagnan arrives with the voucher the king gave him. He is met by Pellison who takes him to superintendent of finances. Fouquet is hosting a farewell banquet, surrounded by all of his friends, the Epicureans, and his wife. They are all fearful when they see the musketeer, but when d’Artagnan says he here only to cash in the king’s voucher everyone but Fouquet smiles. The superintendent is still gloomy, knowing his arrest is imminent.

Fouquet has been rather ill since the king’s visit at Vaux, and d’Artagnan suggests Fouquet is undoubtedly suffering the ill effects of hosting such spectacular royal...

(The entire section is 478 words.)

Chapter 36 Summary

Monsieur Colbert’s Coach

The musketeers are on their way to Nantes as precursors for the king; d’Artagnan leaves, too, and will arrive before the others. As he rides, the captain of the musketeers sees something which captures his attention: Colbert is leaving his house and getting into a coach containing two hooded female passengers. D’Artagnan wants to know who they are, so he rides past the carriage so closely that he actually brushes up against it with his boot.

This shakes the carriage and he hears the women scream. Their hoods are thrown back and d’Artagnan recognizes the women as Madame Vanel and the Duchess de Chevreuse, though he rides swiftly enough that they do not...

(The entire section is 642 words.)

Chapter 37 Summary

The Two Lighters

D’Artagnan and Fouquet have both left and are in a great hurry; one is on the king’s business and the other is attempting to escape imprisonment with some help from his friends. Everyone in Fouquet’s carriage is nervous every time a vehicle approaches the coach, for Louis XIV is an experienced hunter who is not likely to let such valuable prey escape. The farther they get, though, the less fear they have, and soon the superintendent is beyond the easy reach of any pursuers. Fouquet has convinced himself that the king will be happy to see Fouquet in Nantes and that his haste in getting there will testify to his enthusiasm to serve the king.

At Orleans, Fouquet, his...

(The entire section is 757 words.)

Chapter 38 Summary

Friendly Advice

Fouquet is in bed, trying to muster his strength despite his illness and his circumstances; however, he greets d’Artagnan with affability and even happiness. When the musketeer suggests the superintendent needs to get a good night’s sleep, Fouquet says he will not be able to do that since d’Artagnan is undoubtedly here to carry out the wishes of the king.

D’Artagnan assures him that the day he comes on the orders of the king, he will pull his sword, according to protocol, and immediately arrest him in the name of the king. There will be no suspense; however, even the description causes Fouquet to tremble. D’Artagnan is certain things are not that dire yet and is...

(The entire section is 772 words.)

Chapter 39 Summary

How King Louis XIV Played His Little Part

As Fouquet prepares to enter the king’s castle, someone slips from the crowd and hands the superintendent a letter. D’Artagnan tries to prevent the exchange but it is too late; Fouquet is already reading the missive. His face grows pale and reveals a “vague terror” before tucking the letter into his portfolio and continuing his walk toward the king’s apartments.

As d’Artagnan follows Fouquet up the stairs, he looks out the windows and sees the man who delivered the letter; the man looks around and signals others who then disappear into nearby streets. Louis XIV tells the musketeer that he will see Fouquet in ten minutes. Immediately after...

(The entire section is 770 words.)

Chapter 40 Summary

The White Horse and the Black Horse

Gourville seems happy and that surprises d’Artagnan because Fouquet is in great danger. He wonders what plan Gourville has made for Fouquet and takes a moment to look at his surroundings. His eyes are attracted by a “moving dot that is gaining ground” away from the castle, and he assumes it is a runaway horse to be moving so quickly. He can see now that it is a white horse with a rider.

As d’Artagnan descends the stairs he sees bits of paper and discovers they are the note Fouquet received; when he examines them more closely he sees the words “white horse” and realizes that Fouquet is the rider he had just seen. Fouquet will arrive at his boat...

(The entire section is 620 words.)

Chapter 41 Summary

In Which the Squirrel Falls, In Which the Adder Flies

The king paces impatiently from his room to the terrace until a furious d’Artagnan enters the room and asks the king who gave the order for his musketeers to ransack Fouquet’s house. The king denies giving any such orders, and d’Artagnan reflects before attacking Colbert for overstepping his authority. After he points out that Colbert was too stupid to guess that the king ordered that Fouquet should be arrested, d’Artagnan is adamant that his guards are not to be used on the whim or fancy of an underling such as Colbert.

Not only did Colbert order the carriage with the iron bars to be made, he also had his people carry off...

(The entire section is 831 words.)

Chapter 42 Summary

Belle-Ile-en-Mer

At the far end of the pier at Belle-Ile, Athos and Porthos look east, engaged in a spirited conversation, before continuing their stroll. The two outlaws have taken refuge at Belle-Ile since Aramis’s plan to replace the king failed.

Porthos is convinced it is no accident that all the fishing boats in the area vanished two days ago, even though the weather has been clear. Aramis agrees but is furious when Porthos announces he sent the only two remaining boats to find the others. While Aramis knows they are now doomed, Porthos is still unaware of the danger they are in because of the foiled plot.

Porthos would prefer to be in France, though he is glad to be here...

(The entire section is 685 words.)

Chapter 43 Summary

Aramis’s Explanation

Aramis needs to tell Porthos the truth about why they are at Belle-Ile and warns his friend that it is a strange story. Because Porthos is such a good and devoted man, Aramis is heartbroken at having to explain that he has been deceiving Porthos, though he thought it was in his friend’s best interest.

When Aramis tells Porthos that their service to the usurper king has made them rebels, Porthos is disappointed—because he will not become a duke as he was promised. Aramis asks his forgiveness and says he would make Porthos a prince if he could. He takes full blame and responsibility for the entire plan; he was the architect and Porthos was just a victim of his...

(The entire section is 772 words.)

Chapter 44 Summary

The Results of the King’s Plans and D’Artagnan’s Plans

The king’s order is clear: d’Artagnan may not assemble a council or have any deliberations before Belle-Ile is taken. It is upsetting to d’Artagnan that the king had anticipated his plans, but he is still not dismayed. He considers the idea which Aramis had whispered to him, and he proposes a new plan to his assembled officers.

He tells them that since the king has sent secret orders through someone else, d’Artagnan clearly does not have the entire faith and trust of the king. He will, therefore, go immediately to the king to offer his resignation in person. D’Artagnan resigns, in the presence of his officers, and tells...

(The entire section is 567 words.)

Chapter 45 Summary

Porthos’s Forebears

After d’Artagnan leaves Aramis and Porthos, the two men return to the fortress to speak privately. Porthos is still thinking and brooding, which annoys Aramis because his mind has never been freer. Aramis breaks the silence and explains d’Artagnan’s plan to Porthos, a plan which will ensure their freedom within twelve hours.

Aramis reminds Porthos that d’Artagnan was annoyed by the orders of the officer who accompanied him and explains that their friend will use this as an excuse to resign. In the confusion caused by d’Artagnan’s absence, Porthos will be able to escape by boat—but there is only room for one man.

Porthos is adamant that they...

(The entire section is 789 words.)

Chapter 46 Summary

Biscarrat’s Son

The Bretons of the island are proud of their victory, but Aramis does not encourage them. After everyone has gone home, he tells Porthos that the king will be furious at such resistance and these brave men are likely to be “decimated or burned alive” once the island is taken. Porthos is discouraged because they have accomplished nothing useful, though they do have a prisoner.

They ply the officer with food and drink, and he tells them every detail about d’Artagnan’s resignation and departure. After d’Artagnan left, the new commander ordered a surprise attack on Belle-Ile. Aramis and Porthos know they have no one on their side and exchange a look of brave despair....

(The entire section is 620 words.)

Chapter 47 Summary

The Grotto of Locmaria

Aramis and Porthos, laden with money and weapons, expend all their remaining energy to reach the hidden Grotto of Locmaria sometime after midnight. Along the way, they pass many inhabitants trying to flee the island. Porthos asks about the three servants which Aramis said would be here, and Aramis tells him they must be waiting in the cavern. As Porthos is about to enter the grotto, Aramis asks if he can go in first, as he knows the proper signal for the waiting men. Porthos graciously allows Aramis to enter first, and soon the three men show themselves to Aramis.

Aramis sends the men to the mouth of the cave with orders to bring Porthos—carrying him if his legs...

(The entire section is 473 words.)

Chapter 48 Summary

The Grotto

Though Aramis had formulated a reasonable plan, things do not happen as expected. Biscarrat, riding a superior horse, is the first to reach the grotto and realize that the hounds and fox have disappeared within the dark cave. The terrified guard does not proceed down the dark underground trail until the others arrive, and all of them are puzzled. Each master calls his dog by name, but there is only silence. Wondering if this is an enchanted grotto, Biscarrat dismounts and enters the darkness. He tells his men that if he does not return within ten minutes, “something extraordinary is afoot” and they are all to come search for him together.

The men readily agree, never thinking...

(The entire section is 759 words.)

Chapter 49 Summary

A Homeric Chant

In the Grotto of Locmaria, Aramis and Porthos had hoped to escape on a boat through the small underground exit; however, the arrival of a fox and some dogs has forced them to remain hidden. The boat will be a tight fit through the cave’s hidden opening, but Aramis determines to make the effort to escape. It is a plan fraught with danger, since there are more soldiers coming and the escapees will be exposed once the boat reaches the sea.

Aramis orders the men to move the boat on its rollers until it reaches the large rock blocking the hidden back exit; then, with tremendous effort, they push the rock away so the boat is now free. Only a few dozen yards more and the boat will...

(The entire section is 422 words.)

Chapter 50 Summary

The Death of a Titan

Porthos, whose eyes have adjusted to the darkness of the cavern, watches for a signal from Aramis. Instead, Aramis touches his arm quietly and leads Porthos to the next chamber of the grotto and shows him a nearly eighty-pound keg of powder with a fuse attached to it. Aramis is going to light the fuse, and Porthos is going to “hurl the barrel into the throng of their enemies.” Porthos is anxious for Aramis to light the fuse, but Aramis knows they must wait until all the soldiers are together. Aramis will go help the Britons put the boat to sea and then wait for Porthos on the beach.

Again Porthos demands that Aramis light the fuse, and Aramis asks if Porthos...

(The entire section is 705 words.)

Chapter 51 Summary

Porthos’s Epitaph

Aramis rises from Porthos’s tomb, “shivering like a fearful child” and unable to walk on his own. It is as if something in him died along with Porthos. The two Bretons embrace him and carry him to the boat before rowing full speed without sails, afraid to attract too much attention.

On the beach behind them, the men see the now-flattened ancient Grotto of Locmaria and one lone hill. It seems to represent Porthos, the fallen giant who was the strongest of them all and the first of the four musketeers to die. Porthos was as noble as he was strong, always willing to sacrifice himself for the weak. Even in death he only wanted to do what his friend Aramis asked of him,...

(The entire section is 763 words.)

Chapter 52 Summary

The Duke de Gesvres’s Rounds

D’Artagnan is not used to opposition such as he has just faced. He arrives in Nantes and is irritated; this irritation translates into an “impetuous attack” which few men could withstand or resist. He heads straight to the castle and demands to speak to the king. It is early and the musketeer is stopped by Monsieur de Gesvres who “politely recommends” that d’Artagnan speak more softly so he will not wake the king, who was up all night.

D’Artagnan returns two hours later and is told that the king is eating breakfast and does not want to talk while he is eating. Used to being received by the king whenever and wherever he wishes, d’Artagnan is told...

(The entire section is 776 words.)

Chapter 53 Summary

King Louis XIV

The king ignores d’Artagnan’s arrival. It is a game the musketeer understands and he waits patiently in the background until the king acknowledges him. When the king asks what d’Artagnan wishes to discuss with him, the former captain of the guard says he has nothing to say and is only here because he has been arrested. The king does not contradict him.

When the king finally asks d’Artagnan what he was supposed to do at Belle-Ile, d’Artagnan is thrilled that he will be able to reveal Colbert’s grab for power and explains that he was disappointed that he was forced to obey so many orders. The king claims he only sent two, so d’Artagnan gets to express his dismay at...

(The entire section is 803 words.)

Chapter 54 Summary

Monsieur Fouquet’s Friends

The king returns to Paris, accompanied by d’Artagnan who has gathered all the information he could about his friends at Belle-Ile. He does not know that Porthos is buried in the collapsed Grotto of Locmaria, but he does know that his two faithful and noble friends fought with three Bretons and held their own against an entire army. D’Artagnan saw the gory corpses and knows a ship was pursued and caught before the royal vessel raced away. This is all he knows for certain; the rest he can only conjecture. He wonders why the ship carrying his friends has not yet appeared. This is the news d’Artagnan reports to the king, now heading to Paris followed by his entire court....

(The entire section is 588 words.)

Chapter 55 Summary

Porthos’s Will

All of Pierrefonds, Porthos’s estate, is in deep mourning for its lost master. Neighbors and friends are now gathering and are met by Mousqueton. The faithful valet has lost a significant amount of weight in the past few days of mourning, and his face is now “flabby with grief.” Each new visitor prompts Mousqueton to fresh tears, and it is a pitiful sight to see the man squeeze his throat to “keep from blubbering.”

Today the will is going to be read, and the neighbors and friends are here out of curiosity more than greed, knowing Porthos has no relatives. At noon everyone is seated and the doors to the great hall are shut as Porthos’s attorney unrolls the will....

(The entire section is 733 words.)

Chapter 56 Summary

Athos’s Old Age

The four musketeers, who had once been united with “seemingly indissoluble bonds,” are now forever separated. Athos, alone after Raoul went to fight, has slowly been losing his will to live. Old age, which had been kept at bay by the presence of his son, is now Athos’s constant companion. His body is aging and his inconsolable grief has stolen all his joy. Though Athos had always been a youthful man even at the age of seventy, he has become an old man within a week of Raoul’s leaving.

With Raoul gone, Athos has no reason to exercise his body and mind as he always has; he rarely leaves his bed but he neither sleeps nor reads. Instead, Athos allows his soul and mind...

(The entire section is 505 words.)

Chapter 57 Summary

Athos’s Vision

After Athos recovers from his faint and his supernatural dream, he dresses and requests a horse. The count is determined to get to Blois. The letter from Aramis moved the tenderhearted Athos to want to visit Belle-Ile and pay his respects to Porthos’s final resting place, as well, and he hopes d’Artagnan will accompany him on this sad pilgrimage.

His servants are delighted that Athos is showing such signs of invigoration and hope his melancholy has dissipated. Unfortunately, Athos is too feeble to walk even to his stable and he asks to be taken to a spot in the sun where he spends an hour recovering his spirits and fortifying his body. Finally he is able to ride but...

(The entire section is 742 words.)

Chapter 58 Summary

The Angel of Death

A loud noise outside his house abruptly breaks the spell of his “marvelous vision,” and Athos hears a galloping horse and a “clamorous and animated conversation” being conducted below his room. The count does not move and barely even tries to identify the sounds. When someone does enter the room, Athos feebly asks if it is a messenger from Africa. It is not a messenger; it is Grimaud.

No longer the devoted man who had hopped into the boat which carried Raoul away, Grimaud is now an old man, stern and pale and disheveled. He trembles against the doorframe before he sees his master’s face and nearly collapses. The two men are old friends who have learned to speak...

(The entire section is 478 words.)

Chapter 59 Summary

Bulletin

The Duke de Beaufort wrote a letter to Athos, but it arrived too late. He writes that Raoul died a glorious death and offers the count his greatest condolences. The letter is accompanied by a report written by one of the duke’s secretaries. Though he is a soldier used to death, d’Artagnan finds it difficult to read a report with Raoul’s name in it.

The report says the battle begins in the morning and the troops begin to march, but Raoul has orders to stay with the duke. The enemy cannons suddenly turn their fire on the duke and several men near him are killed. The battle is not going well, so the duke decides to turn the moored frigates so they can fire regularly against the...

(The entire section is 674 words.)

Chapter 60 Summary

The Final Canto of the Epic

All the aristocrats in the area are gathering for the funeral for Athos and his son. D’Artagnan is there but he refuses to speak with anyone, and only Grimaud is allowed near him. The musketeer writes the king and asks for permission to extend his furlough.

Grimaud silently beckons d’Artagnan to follow him, and the servant leads him to the two open caskets. Athos is in one, and d’Artagnan is surprised to see Raoul’s body in the other. It is a striking sight to see father and son so close together yet unable to touch one another. Grimaud shows d’Artagnan Raoul’s battle wounds but will not explain how Raoul’s body got here. That is when d’Artagnan...

(The entire section is 656 words.)

Epilogue Summary

Epilogue

Four years later, the captain of the king’s greyhounds and the governor of the king’s falcons are riding; d’Artagnan, named a count four years ago, is behind them. He still rides like a cadet, but the last four years have aged him twelve years. D’Artagnan rides up to join the two officers who greet him with respectful bows. Unfortunately, the king now uses his musketeers more than his birds.

D’Artagnan has just returned from visiting Fouquet who is in another prison and does not understand that his life was spared and this is a good place for him to be. They are going to meet the king for a hunting party, and the falconer assures d’Artagnan that the hunt will not take...

(The entire section is 717 words.)

Lori Steinbach, Ed. Scott Locklear