Chapter 57 Summary
Continuing the story she has made up to manipulate Mr. Felton, Milady says that she spent several more days in captivity. Her captor refused to free her, and he refused her any weapon with which to kill herself. She, in turn, refused to touch any food or water, and she continued to swear that she would denounce him if she let her go. Ultimately, he decided to make sure nobody would believe her denunciation. He had her branded as a whore.
After describing the pain and shame of the branding, Milady dramatically opens her dress and shows Mr. Felton the mark of shame on her shoulder. Aghast, he weeps and begs her to forgive him for unknowingly helping the men who have been tormenting her. She serenely offers him her hand as a show of forgiveness. As she does so, she reflects that from now on, Mr. Felton will believe anything of her and do anything she asks.
Now that she has Mr. Felton completely in her power, Milady reveals the name of the nobleman who supposedly abducted and raped her: the Duke of Buckingham. Mr. Felton hates Buckingham anyway, so it is easy for him to believe the lie. However, he has trouble believing that Lord de Winter, the man he most admires, is wrapped up in all of this. Milady smiles and says that her brother-in-law does not know the truth. At the time of her abduction, she was engaged to Lord de Winter’s brother, to whom she revealed her shameful story in every detail. He married her anyway and swore to assassinate her tormentor, but he died before he could accomplish the mission. He never confided the story to his brother. Lord de Winter, a good friend of Buckingham’s, naturally believed Buckingham over the sister-in-law he never particularly liked.
Milady proclaims that death is the only way to end her shame. She lunges for the knife Mr. Felton brought her. He shouts at her to stop, and the noise attracts the attention of the guards. Soon Lord de Winter is summoned, and he surveys the scene. Sighing, Lord de Winter tells his officer that whatever is happening is an act; Milady will never use the knife to kill herself. This is true, but Milady cannot let Mr. Felton believe it. She grabs the knife and stabs it at her breast, carefully aiming it so that it bounces off the iron part of her corset before continuing on to cut into her skin. The resulting wound is not life threatening, but it is bad enough to bleed profusely.
Mr. Felton thinks Milady has killed herself, and he rails that he is at fault. However, Lord de Winter is not fooled. He sends a servant to help Milady and dispatches a man to get a doctor. Then he leads a worried Mr. Felton out of the room.