Chapter 51 Summary
In the camp outside La Rochelle, the Cardinal falls is beginning to worry. All of the news he hears from England is bad. Meanwhile, the King is getting bored with the state of siege. He thought warfare would be more entertaining, and he keeps pressuring the Cardinal to make the campaign more interesting. The Cardinal knows that his current tactics give him the best chance of winning, so he works hard to entertain the King by staging frequent executions of traitors and spies.
Meanwhile, Milady has disappeared, and the Cardinal does not know what to think. He had thought he could trust her, not for her loyalty, but because she always seemed to be hiding some dark secret from which only he could protect her. However, since he does not know what has happened to her, he focuses on the task in front of him. According to his informants, the people in La Rochelle are starving and cannot last long without supplies. The end should come soon, but only if Buckingham does not arrive with supplies and reinforcements from England.
Amid his worries, the Cardinal goes out riding. He sees a group of Musketeers—Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and d'Artagnan—having a picnic on a dune with their lackeys. They are all laughing and looking pleased with themselves. The Cardinal, in his bad mood, thinks this gathering appears suspicious. He sneaks up on the little group and tries to hear the contents of the letter one of them is reading aloud. However, the lackeys are keeping watch, and Grimaud calls out to warn his masters.
The four friends bow to the Cardinal, and everyone except Athos cowers in fear. Athos, with his lordly manner, meets the Cardinal's eye and explains that he and his friends are enjoying some time off. The Cardinal makes a few vague implications that the Musketeers are acting suspicious, but ultimately he does not have any evidence. He rides off in a huff, and the friends relax.
Aramis returns to reading his letter aloud. It is from Madame de Chevreuse but, as always, he claims it is from his cousin. She says that "our little maid"—by whom she means Madame Bonacieux—is in the Carmelite convent in a town called Stenay. Madame de Chevreuse offers to make a discrete attempt to relay a message to the convent if anyone wants to write a letter.
D'Artagnan is thrilled that he finally knows Madame Bonacieux’s whereabouts. He resolves to go and get her as soon as his duties at battle are finished, and his friends offer to go along and help. In the meantime, they destroy the letter by ordering Grimaud to eat it. Grimaud obeys unquestioningly and seems thrilled when Athos gives him a glass of wine—a drink normally reserved for gentlemen—as a reward.
Meanwhile, Cardinal Richelieu wishes he could inspire Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and d'Artagnan to turn their loyalty over to him.