Chapter 66 Summary
Grimaud and Mousqueton hold Milady by the arms on the way to her execution. As they walk, she mutters that she will pay them generously if they help her escape. Athos sees her talking and orders them away from her. To the others, he adds that it is not possible to trust any man to whom she has spoken. He sends Planchet and Bazin to guard Milady for the rest of the walk.
At the bank of the river, Milady begins shouting accusations. She says the men are cowardly to attack an unarmed woman, but they reply that she deserves it. She says they are planning murder, but they reply calmly that a public executioner has permission to kill criminals. She asks who gave them the right to judge her, and they point out that she has already, on numerous occasions, escaped legal judgments by courts of law. She begs to be sent to a convent, but they say that they have tried lenient punishments, and she has refused to submit to them.
Although he wants Milady's death more than anyone else, d'Artagnan is so youthful and innocent that he cannot remain hardhearted against her pleas for mercy. He plugs his ears and says he cannot stand to see a woman die in such a gruesome way. Milady, seeing her chance, begs him to defend her. Athos steps between them and warns d'Artagnan that he will fight—to the death, if necessary—to ensure that Milady faces justice. D'Artagnan steels himself and stops objecting.
Before the public executioner takes Milady away, Athos and Lord de Winter forgive her for her crimes. D'Artagnan, in his turn, asks her forgiveness "for trickery unworthy of a gentleman." At these words, she seems to lose her resistance. She says that she must die, and she will go peacefully.
Naturally, this submissiveness is only a trick. As the executioner takes Milady across the river, she struggles free of her bonds. When she arrives at the other side, she tries to run, but she trips. The executioner approaches her from behind and decapitates her in one stroke. Then he dumps her body in the river, and everyone watches it float away. "God's justice and will and mercy be done!" the executioner says.
When this macabre deed is accomplished, the Musketeers return to Paris. They arrive exactly at the right time and report to Monsieur de Tréville, who asks mildly if they had a good time on their days off. Athos answers for everyone that they enjoyed themselves very much.