Chapter 17 Summary
When the King asks the Queen to wear her diamonds to the ball, she understands immediately that the Cardinal knows she gave them to the Duke of Buckingham. She cannot admit to her husband that she no longer has the diamonds, so she says that she will wear them. Then, when he leaves, she collapses into a chair and cries. She knows how angry he will be when he finds out the truth. Her reputation will be ruined forever.
As the Queen cries, Madame Bonacieux emerges timidly form the closet and says that she heard everything. After learning that Buckingham has the diamonds, Madame Bonacieux suggests that the Queen write him a short letter asking for them back. The Queen protests that such a note may get into the wrong hands and destroy her reputation forever, but Madame Bonacieux promises to prevent this. Her husband is a cowardly but sweet man who will do whatever she asks without asking questions. He will take the note to England and give it to Buckingham, who will surely help the Queen out of her tight spot. Seeing no other option, the Queen agrees. She gives Madame Bonacieux a ring—a gift from her brother, who will not begrudge its sale—to pay for Monsieur Bonacieux's journey.
Madame Bonacieux rushes home to her husband, whom she has not seen since her abduction and his imprisonment. She greets him hurriedly, brushing him off when he asks about her kidnapping. She does not show any interest in his adventure at the Bastille, either. This offends him, but she does not care. She tells him that she must ask him to do an important job for her.
Monsieur Bonacieux flatly refuses to go to London. He says that he will no longer undertake dangerous political errands without knowing what they are all about. After all, he does not want to risk angering the Cardinal again. He boasts that he has met the Cardinal and received a gift of money from him.
Madame Bonacieux is aghast. She says that she always knew her husband was a coward and a miser, but that she never expected him to side with “the Devil” over his sovereign Queen. She tries to bully Monsieur Bonacieux into doing what she wants, but he is unmoved. He knows that the Cardinal has more power than the Queen.
Eventually, Monsieur Bonacieux realizes that the Cardinal may want to know about the Queen's plan. Madame Bonacieux refuses to divulge more information now that she knows where her husband's loyalties lie. He tells her that he is going to see a friend, and he rushes off to see the Cardinal.
When her husband is gone, Madame Bonacieux briefly despairs—but then she hears a voice calling to her through the ceiling. It is d’Artagnan, offering help.