Chapter 40 Summary
Cardinal Richelieu stares at d’Artagnan for a long time, so long that the young man’s nervousness grows to full-fledged fear. When the Cardinal finally begins to speak, he summarizes all of d’Artagnan’s activities over the past few months. Since most of these actions were harmful to the Cardinal, whether d’Artagnan specifically meant them to be or not, d’Artagnan is alarmed. However, when the Cardinal finishes his list, he says that he is not angry. On the contrary, he seems rather impressed:
Could you incur my displeasure for carrying out orders from your superiors with more courage and intelligence than most men would have done? I punish those who fail in obedience, not those who like yourself carry out their orders—all too well!
This brings the Cardinal to his point: he wants d’Artagnan to withdraw from Monsieur des Essarts’ guards and join the Cardinal’s guard force at the higher rank of a lieutenant.
This offer places d’Artagnan in a delicate position. On one hand, his loyalties are to the King, the Queen, Monsieur de Tréville, and his Musketeer friends. On the other hand, refusing the Cardinal’s offer could be dangerous. D’Artagnan points out that if he changed sides now, he would make enemies of the Musketeers and also join a corps of soldiers who hate him. When the Cardinal insists that his guards and the Musketeers are on the same side, d’Artagnan graciously says that he is unworthy of the position:
All in good time, Monseigneur. Hereafter perhaps I shall win the right of giving myself [to your service]; today I would seem to be selling myself.
This is a strong enough argument that the Cardinal cannot reject it. However, he is displeased. Both men know that d’Artagnan is only being polite; he has no real intention of changing his loyalties in the future.
When d’Artagnan rejoins his friends, he explains what happened, and they congratulate him for turning down the Cardinal’s offer. Athos’s approval comes along with a fair measure of worry. He says that d’Artagnan may end up regretting his choice in the end.
The following day, all the Musketeers and guards in the King’s and Cardinal’s service march off to war. Before they leave, Porthos makes one last visit to Madame Coquenard, Aramis writes a long letter to someone he refuses to name, and Athos drinks the last of the wine he has at home. Meanwhile, as d’Artagnan assembles to march away with the guards, he fails to notice Milady standing by the side of the road and pointing him out to two armed thugs.