Chapter 39 Summary

On the last day before leaving for war, the four friends all gather at Athos’s apartment. They are all in a good mood because they have good horses, good weapons, plenty of money, and an adventure to look forward to. As they chat among themselves, Planchet enters with two letters for d’Artagnan.

The first letter is unsigned, but d’Artagnan recognizes the handwriting of Madame Bonacieux. Her note is brief, but it says that she is planning to pass by a certain road this very evening. She tells him that he may come and see her, but only if he comes alone and refrains from any attempt to speak to her as she passes. According to her, they will both be in grave danger if he disobeys these requests. The three Musketeers advise d’Artagnan against going, but he decides to take the risk.

The second note is from the captain of the Cardinal’s guards, who invites d’Artagnan to meet with Cardinal Richelieu this evening. This appointment is set to take place an hour after the appointment with Madame Bonacieux, so it is possible for d’Artagnan to do both. The three Musketeers are a bit unsure what to advise him to do; they all agree that it would be just as dangerous to accept the Cardinal's invitation as to ignore it. D’Artagnan determines that he will go, and his friends plan to come along as guards in case the Cardinal tries to arrest him.

That evening, d’Artagnan goes to see Madame Bonacieux. His friends, worried about a possible trap, accompany him. However, they wait at a distance so that d’Artagnan cannot be accused of ignoring the instructions in the note. Suddenly a carriage passes, and its window opens. Inside, d’Artagnan glimpses Madame Bonacieux—only briefly—before the window slams shut and she is gone. He follows the carriage for a while, but he is too worried about bringing her into danger to pursue her far. He wonders how she was able to arrange this meeting, and whether she is still a prisoner. He has no way to answer either question.

Next, d’Artagnan goes to his meeting with Cardinal Richelieu. His three best friends round up nine more Musketeers to help protect d’Artagnan. When he goes inside, he leaves four Musketeers waiting, ready to fight for him, if necessary, at each of the Cardinal’s three gates. The Musketeers seem eager to skirmish with the Cardinal’s men if the opportunity arises.

For his part, d’Artagnan feels nervous as he enters the Cardinal’s residence alone. Richelieu could destroy him without consequences, and everyone knows it. Even so, d’Artagnan stands up straight and walks proudly. An attendant ushers him into an office, where the Cardinal sits writing at a desk.