Chapter 36 Summary
Intending to keep his promise to Athos, d’Artagnan avoids Milady for two days. On the third day, she sends him a letter asking why he has stopped visiting her. She invites him so kindly to see her that he decides to accept the invitation. Kitty, who is responsible for delivering his answer to Milady, begs him to change his mind. He rationalizes his choice by saying that Milady might become suspicious if he does not do what she wants.
When d’Artagnan arrives at Milady’s house, she looks ill and feverish. It is clear to him that the trick he played, sleeping with her and then rejecting her in the name of de Wardes, has badly upset her. In spite of her obvious unhappiness, however, she greets d’Artagnan far more warmly than ever before. When she says she loves him, she sounds so sincere that he thinks it might be true.
D’Artagnan’s hopes are soon dashed when Milady asks him for a favor: She needs him to kill someone for her. This convinces him that she is only pretending to love him because she wants revenge on de Wardes, but d’Artagnan does not leave. Instead he swears that he will kill any man who has insulted Milady.
Before revealing the name of the man she wants d'Artagnan to kill, Milady asks several questions to test his loyalty. D’Artagnan readily promises that he would kill his friend or even his brother for her, vows he makes only because he knows that she is not going to ask him to do so. When his answers satisfy her, she opens her mouth to reveal de Wardes’s name—and d’Artagnan says it instead.
Now Milady really is suspicious; she asks how d’Artagnan knows that she is angry at de Wardes. He lies and says that de Wardes spent the day yesterday bragging about his conquest and showing off the ring Milady gave him. This lie increases Milady’s fury because, within her culture, it is horribly impolite for a man to reveal his mistress’s identity in public.
Milady is tempted to ask d’Artagnan to go kill de Wardes immediately, but she knows that he will be more committed if he gets something from her in return. Accordingly, she invites him to visit her again in the evening, and he agrees. He leaves in a rush so that Kitty, who has overheard the whole conversation, cannot try to talk him out of sleeping with Milady again. As he walks home, he tells himself to be careful. Soon his revenge against Milady will be complete—but if he makes a single misstep, she might outwit him instead.