Chapter 43 Summary
Now that the King has reached La Rochelle, the fighting begins. At first, the campaign goes well for the French, with the tactics handled primarily by Cardinal Richelieu. He receives constant visits from poorly disguised spies who sneak into his headquarters under the cover of darkness. He also receives several visits from assassins who try to kill him. According to rumor, some of the assassins are fake, hired by the Cardinal himself so that he can accuse his enemies of poor conduct.
The Musketeers’ role in the battle is primarily to defend the King, so they are not often on the front lines. Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, as favorites of Monsieur de Tréville, often receive passes to go out drinking in town at night. D’Artagnan, meanwhile, spends a great deal of time in the trenches with the other guards.
One night the three Musketeers go out to a tavern while d’Artagnan is busy fighting. On their way home, the Musketeers meet a haughty, lordly man who demands that they explain their presence on the road at night during a time of war. At first they are annoyed, but they soon realize that their questioner is Cardinal Richelieu himself. They explain where they have been and admit that they had a little fight with some drunk men who attempted to break down a lady’s door. They say that their opponents left the tavern badly injured.
The Cardinal accepts this story and asks the Musketeers to follow him and guard him on his way to the same tavern they just left. They are surprised by this request because they have often worked against him in the past, and they know he knows it. However, the Cardinal surprises them by saying the following:
I am aware that you are not exactly my friends and I am sorry for it. But I also know that you are brave, trustworthy, honorable gentleman. I shall therefore ask you…to accompany me.
The Musketeers cannot refuse such a polite request from a gentleman of the rank and power of the Cardinal, so they follow him back to the tavern. There the Cardinal speaks briefly to the tavern owner to confirm the story about the fight. Then the Cardinal orders the Musketeers to wait in a cozy room by a fireplace. He ascends the stairs, apparently toward the room of the lady the Musketeers defended earlier. From the way he runs upstairs without directions, it is clear that he has visited this place before.