Chapter 32 Summary

At lunchtime the day after the duel with the Englishmen, Porthos goes to the home of Madame Coquenard and her husband, a retired lawyer. Porthos has never been allowed to visit his mistress at home before. Upon arrival, he is feeling lovesick, but his tender feelings focus less on his mistress herself than on her money and its benefit to him.

When Porthos arrives at the house, he is not sure what to make of it. The building is dingy, which is a sign of poverty. However, three clerks and a messenger boy are all at work inside, and he knows that only a prosperous law practice would have so many employees. Porthos deduces that Monsieur Coquenard is wealthy but miserly—a judgment that matches Madame Coquenard’s descriptions of her husband.

Madame Coquenard greets Porthos eagerly, but her elderly, wheelchair-bound husband is quite rude. As he halfheartedly plays along with the fiction that Porthos is a distant cousin eager to see his family before going off to fight in the upcoming war, he sends strong signals that he does not want Porthos to visit often.

Porthos is not disturbed by Monsieur Coquenard’s rudeness, but he is annoyed by the paltry meal he is offered. He is expecting rich and plentiful food, but all he gets is a light broth and a tiny piece of boiled chicken. The dessert is spare as well, and the wine is terrible. By the end of the meal, Porthos barely feels that he has eaten a snack. Meanwhile, Monsieur Coquenard repeatedly suggests that this modest meal is a vast extravagance. It is clear that he normally eats even less and feeds his employees almost nothing. The three clerks are given beans instead of chicken, and they are sent back to work before the dessert is served. As for the little errand boy, he only gets a piece of bread in the hallway.

After dinner, while Monsieur Coquenard takes a nap, Porthos and Madame Coquenard withdraw to a separate room to discuss the money and equipment he needs to outfit himself for battle. As usual, Porthos hints that he is honoring her with the opportunity to give him money. He actually has nobody else to finance his needs, but he follows his usual strategy of making her feel jealous. He pretends that he has a half dozen duchesses and princesses ready to pay his way.

Porthos asks for a large sum of money, but Madame Coquenard is hesitant. She gives him far more than she is comfortable giving, but it is far less than he requests. She also promises to obtain a battle horse for Porthos and a mule for Mousqueton. By the time Porthos leaves, he and Madame Coquenard are both feeling quite unhappy.