Chapter 46 Summary
The following morning, d’Artagnan tells his friends that the night’s battle was bad, and that both sides lost several men. When his friends hint that they, too, had an interesting night, he asks for details. Athos says that he does not want their conversation to be overheard, so he suggests talking over breakfast at a nearby inn.
Unfortunately, the inn is far more crowded than Athos expects. The friends sit down near a little group of soldiers and mercenaries, who strike up a conversation. The men are friendly, but Athos is annoyed because he does not consider it safe to tell secrets in front of such strangers. To get away from them, he suggests a bet: he, Porthos, Aramis, and d'Artagnan will spend an hour alone at Saint Gervais, the bastion where d’Artagnan fought last night, which is expected to be retaken by the people of La Rochelle this morning. This is an extremely risky place to have a picnic, and the strangers do not believe anyone would be brave enough to stay there for a whole hour. They accept the bet immediately.
Over his friends' muttered objections, Athos orders a picnic breakfast. When it is ready, he leads the way to the bastion. During the walk, he blithely explains that he made this crazy bet because it is the best possible way to discuss their new, dangerous knowledge about the Cardinal's plans. If they try to talk within earshot of people they do not know, one of the Cardinal's many spies will almost certainly hear them. If they go off alone to a secluded place, their choice to seclude themselves will be considered suspicious. But if they eat breakfast in the most dangerous spot available, people will simply assume that they are pulling a daring stunt. If they get attacked within the hour, they will fight. Regardless, they will surely find a few minutes to chat.
The others think Athos’s plan is reckless, but they are committed by honor now that the bet is on. Porthos grumbles that they should at least have brought muskets, and Athos laughs. He points out that the men who were killed last night surely had muskets. Why would anyone bother to carry a heavy weapon when he can simply pick one up off the ground?
Grimaud, Athos's lackey, is the only servant who accompanies the friends on this outing. When he learns where they are going, he is terrified. Athos does not allow Grimaud to complain, so he makes hand signals to indicate that he would rather not come along. This infuriates Athos, who punishes Grimaud's cowardice by making him walk in front.