Chapter 61 Summary
At this point, the narrator of The Three Musketeers skips back in time to the afternoon before d'Artagnan sees the man of Meung in Arras. When Milady arrives in France, she immediately sends a note to the Cardinal to say that Buckingham is either dead or gravely wounded. (She did not stay in England long enough to confirm the death for certain.) In the meantime, according to a prearranged plan with the Cardinal, she makes her way to a certain Carmelite convent to await further orders.
At the convent, the Mother Superior asks Milady for news. Milady tells several stories about intrigues at court, and the old nun seems very interested. Milady tries hard to please; it is in her interests to make the nuns at the convent happy, and anyway, this is the kind of storytelling she excels at.
As Milady talks, she watches for clues about the Mother Superior's political leanings. Slowly, it becomes clear that she is a Royalist—a person who supports the King and Queen rather than the Cardinal. When Milady is relatively sure of this, she begins to criticize the Cardinal and complain that his persecution has forced her to the convent. She is careful to seem sincere, and she soon gains the old woman's trust. At this point, the Mother Superior reveals that there is another young woman hiding from the Cardinal at the convent. The Mother Superior does not know many details about this, but she promises to introduce Milady to the other young woman sometime soon.
The Mother Superior declares that Milady needs rest. She leaves, and Milady considers her position. Now that she has succeeded in stopping Buckingham, the Cardinal is in her debt. This will make it easy for her to destroy d’Artagnan. She resolves to do this as soon as possible, and to include Athos into the bargain if she can.
Later that day, Milady meets Madame Bonacieux, who has by now been hiding at the convent for six months. The two have never met before, so they do not recognize each other. However, Milady figures out the truth when Madame Bonacieux mentions that she is friends with Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and d'Artagnan. Sensing a chance to harm the true love of her worst enemy, Milady works hard to gain Madame Bonacieux's trust.
These efforts pay off almost immediately when Madame Bonacieux reveals that d'Artagnan and his friends are coming to the convent very soon, perhaps even today. Before Milady can absorb this information, she sees the Cardinal's spy, Count Rochefort, riding in through the convent gates.