Chapter 5 Summary

D’Artagnan knows that a gentleman is supposed to bring two friends, called seconds, to a prearranged duel. However, he does not know anyone in Paris, so he is forced to meet Athos alone. Eager to undo some of the day's mistakes, d’Artagnan greets Athos politely and apologizes at length for bumping into him. As they talk, it becomes clear that they both regret their rash promise to fight. D’Artagnan does not want the dishonor of killing a wounded man, and Athos does not want the dishonor of killing a mere boy. D'Artagnan offers to postpone the duel for three days until Athos's wound heals. Athos, though clearly impressed by this gallant offer, refuses. He explains that the other Musketeers would find out about their argument. Someone would tell Monsieur de Tréville, and the fight would be prevented. After all, dueling is against the law.

Soon Athos’s seconds arrive, and d’Artagnan is amazed to see Porthos and Aramis again. Apparently these three Musketeers are best friends, and they always call on each other for support when they need to fight. However, all three seem shocked when they realize that they are all supposed to fight the same young Gascon. 

Before beginning his duel with Athos, d’Artagnan apologizes to Porthos and Aramis. They frown, thinking that he is backing down, but he explains that he is only apologizing in advance in case Athos kills him and thus prevents him from meeting his other two obligations. This impresses them, and they accept his apology.

D’Artagnan and Athos draw their swords to begin their duel—but just then, five of the Cardinal’s guards ride into view. They threaten to arrest the duelers, and the Musketeers seem unsure of themselves. D’Artagnan listens as they debate whether it is more shameful to be arrested or to lose. They know that they will lose, if the three of them try to fight five guards alone. 

This moment is a turning point in d’Artagnan’s life. He has no natural place in the general enmity between the King’s and Cardinal’s forces, so everyone advises him simply to run away. Instead he chooses to stay and fight on the side of the Musketeers. The three Musketeers do not think that such a young boy will be much help to them, but they appreciate his bravery anyway.

In the ensuing battle, d’Artagnan handles himself bravely. He fights so energetically that he wounds and disarms the leader of the guards. Afterward, he briefly helps Athos, whose wound is slowing him down. Aramis kills one guardsman and wounds another, and Porthos fights a bloody battle with the bravest guard, who refuses to back down until the very end.

At the end of this episode, the three Musketeers and d’Artagnan march back to the center of the city together, their former quarrels forgotten. D’Artagnan, proud of his performance, proclaims himself an apprentice Musketeer.