Short summary - The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - The Three Musketeers
Alexandre Dumas

On the first Monday in April 1625, the population of the town of Meng on the outskirts of Paris seemed as agitated as if the Huguenots had decided to turn it into the second fortress of La Rochelle: a young man of eighteen entered Meng on a red gelding without a tail. His appearance, clothing and manners caused a flurry of ridicule in the crowd of townspeople. The rider, however, does not pay attention to them, as befits a nobleman who considers it shameful to sort things out with commoners. Another thing is an insult inflicted on an equal: d'Artagnan (this is the name of our hero) throws himself with a bare sword at a noble gentleman in black; however, several townspeople with a cudgel come to his aid. When he wakes up, d'Artagnan does not find either the offender, nor - which is much more serious - his father's letter of recommendation to the old comrade in arms, the captain of the royal musketeers, M. de Treville, with a request to determine the son of 18 years for military service.
Musketeers of His Majesty - the color of the guard, people without fear and reproach, for which they get away with independent and reckless behavior. At the hour when d'Artagnan is awaiting a reception at de Treville, Mr. Captain inflicts another headwash (which, however, does not entail sad consequences) to his three favorites - Athos, Porthos and Aramis. It should be noted that de Treville was outraged not that they had staged a fight with Cardinal Richelieu's guards, but that they had allowed themselves to be arrested ... What a shame!
Talking to de Treville (who received the young d'Artagnan very affectionately), the young man sees a stranger from Meng outside the window - and rushes headlong into the street, hitting three musketeers one by one on the stairs. All three challenge him to a duel. The stranger in black manages to sneak away, but at the appointed hour, Athos, Porthos and Aramis are waiting for d'Artagnan at the appointed place. The case takes an unexpected turn; the swords of all four are unanimously exposed against the ubiquitous guards of the Duke of Richelieu. The Musketeers are convinced that the young Gascon is not only a bully, but also a real brave man who wields weapons no worse than them, and they accept d'Artagnan into their company.
Richelieu complains to the king: the Musketeers are completely insolent. Louis XIII is intrigued rather than upset. He wants to know who this unknown fourth, who was with Athos, Porthos and Aramis. De Treville introduces the Gascon to His Majesty - and the king enlists d'Artagnan to serve in his guard.
The haberdasher Bonacieux turns to d'Artagnan, who has stayed in his house, about whose valor is already rumored in Paris: yesterday his young wife, the maid of honor of Her Majesty Queen Anne of Austria, was kidnapped. By all accounts, the kidnapper is a stranger from Meng. The reason for the abduction was not Madame Bonacier's charms, but her closeness to the Queen: in Paris, Lord Buckingham, the beloved of Anne of Austria. Madame Bonacieux can put him on the trail. The queen is in danger: the king has abandoned her, Richelieu, who lusts for her, pursues her, she loses one after another loyal people; in addition to everything (or above all), she is a Spanish woman in love with an Englishman, and Spain and England are the main opponents of France in the political arena. Following Constance, Monsieur Bonacieux himself was kidnapped; in their house a trap is set up for Lord Buckingham or someone close to him.
One night, d'Artagnan hears in the house fuss and muffled female screams. It is Madame Bonacieux, who escaped from custody, again fell into a mousetrap - now in her own house. D'Artagnan takes it away from Richelieu's people and hides it in Athos's apartment.
Watching all her exits to the city, he lies in wait for Constance in the company of a man in a musketeer's uniform. Has friend Athos really decided to take away the saved beauty from him? The jealous man quickly resigns himself: Madame Bonacieux's companion is Lord Buckingham, whom she takes to the Louvre to see the queen. Constance initiates d'Artagnan into the heart secrets of her mistress. He promises to protect the Queen and Buckingham as her own; this conversation becomes their declaration of love.
Buckingham leaves Paris with Queen Anne's gift of twelve diamond pendants. Having found out about this, Richelieu advises the king to arrange a large ball, to which the queen must appear in pendants - those that are now kept in London, in Buckingham's casket. He foresees the shame of the queen who rejected his claims - and sends one of his best secret agents, Milady Winter, to England: she must steal two pendants from Buckingham - even if the other ten miraculously return to Paris for the big ball, the cardinal will be able to prove the queen's imperfection. D'Artagnan is racing to England with Milady Vinter. Milady succeeds in what the cardinal has instructed her; however, time is working for d'Artagnan - and he delivers ten queen's pendants to the Louvre and two more exactly the same ones, made by a London jeweler in less than two days! The cardinal is put to shame, the queen is saved, d'Artagnan is accepted into the musketeers and rewarded with the love of Constance. There are, however, and losses: Richelieu learns about the valor of the newly-made Musketeer and entrusts him to patronize the insidious Milady Vinter.
Weaving intrigues against d'Artagnan and instilling in him a strong and contradictory passion, my lady at the same time seduces the Comte de Wardes - the man who served as a hindrance to the Gascon on his journey to London, sent by the cardinal to help my lady. Kathy, my lady's maid, mad about the young musketeer, shows him the letters of her mistress de Wardes. D'Artagnan, disguised as the Comte de Wardes, comes on a date to my lady and, not recognized by her in the dark, receives a diamond ring as a token of love. D'Artagnan is in a hurry to present his adventure to friends as a funny joke; Athos, however, darkens at the sight of the ring. Milady's ring evokes a painful memory in him. This is a heirloom, presented by him on the night of love to the one whom he considered to be an angel and who in reality was the branded criminal, thief and murderer who broke the heart of Athos. The story of Athos is soon confirmed: on the bare shoulder of my lady, her ardent lover d'Artagnan notices the brand in the form of a lily - the seal of eternal shame.
From now on he is the enemy of my lady. He is privy to her secret. He refused to kill Lord Winter in a duel - he only disarmed, after which he reconciled with him (the brother of her late husband and the uncle of her little son) - and she has long sought to take possession of the entire fortune of the Winters! Nothing came of my lady and her plan to play d'Artagnan against de Bard. My lady's pride is hurt - but so is Richelieu's ambition. Inviting d'Artagnan to go to serve in his guards regiment and being refused, the cardinal warns the young insolent: "From the minute you lose my patronage, no one will give a broken penny for your life!" ...
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place of a soldier is on war. Taking a vacation from de Treville, d'Artagnan and three of his friends set off for the vicinity of Larochelle, a port city that opens the gates to the British for the French borders. Closing them for England, Cardinal Richelieu completes the case of Joan of Arc and the Duke de Guise. Victory over England for Richelieu is not so much about ridding the king of France from the enemy, but about taking revenge on a more successful rival in love with the queen. The same is with Buckingham: in this military campaign he seeks to satisfy personal ambitions. He prefers to return to Paris not as an envoy, but as a triumphant. The true stake in this bloody game played by the two most powerful powers is the favorable look of Anna of Austria. The British besieged the fortress of Saint-Martin and the fort of La Pré, the French - La Rochelle.
Before his baptism of fire, d'Artagnan sums up the results of a two-year stay in the capital. He is in love and is loved - but does not know where his Constance is and whether she is alive at all. He became a musketeer - but has an enemy in the person of Richelieu. Behind him he has many extraordinary adventures - but also the hatred of my lady, who will not miss the opportunity to take revenge on him. He is marked by the patronage of the queen - but this is a poor defense, rather, an excuse for persecution ... His only unconditional acquisition is a ring with a diamond, whose brilliance, however, is darkened by the bitter memories of Athos.
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By chance, Athos, Porthos and Aramis accompany the cardinal on his incognito night walk in the vicinity of La Rochelle. Athos in the Red Dovecote tavern hears the conversation between the cardinal and my lady (it was to meet with her that Richelieu was traveling under the protection of musketeers). He sends her to London as an intermediary in negotiations with Buckingham. The negotiations, however, are not entirely diplomatic: Richelieu presents his opponent with an ultimatum. If Buckingham dares to take a decisive step in the current military confrontation, the cardinal promises to publicize documents discrediting the queen - evidence not only of her favor for the duke, but also of her collusion with the enemies of France. "What if Buckingham gets stubborn?" - asks my lady. “In this case, as has happened more than once in history, a femme fatale should appear on the political scene, who will put a dagger in the hand of some fanatic killer ...” Milady perfectly understands Richelieu's hint. Well, she is just such a woman! .. Having accomplished an unheard-of feat - having dined on a bet on a bastion open to the enemy, repelling several powerful attacks of the Larochels and returning to the location of the army unharmed - the Musketeers warn the Duke of Buckingham and Lord Vinter about my lady's mission. Vinter manages to arrest her in London. A young officer, Felton, is assigned to guard my lady. Milady learns that her guard is a Puritan. She is called his fellow believer, allegedly seduced by Buckingham, slandered and branded as a thief, while in reality she suffers for her faith. Felton is smitten with my lady on the spot, Religiousness and strict discipline made him a man inaccessible to ordinary seductions. But the story told to him by my lady, shaken his hostility to her, and with her beauty and ostentatious piety, she won his pure heart, Felton helps Milady Winter escape. He instructs a familiar captain to deliver the unfortunate captive to Paris, and he himself infiltrates the Duke of Buckingham, whom, in the execution of Richelieu's script, he kills with a dagger.
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Milady is hiding in the Carmelite monastery in Bethune, where Constance Bonacieux also lives. Learning that d'Artagnan should appear here any hour, my lady poisons the beloved of her main enemy and flees. But she cannot escape retribution: the musketeers rush in her footsteps.
At night, in a dark forest, my lady is judged. She is responsible for the death of Buckingham and Felton, who was seduced by her. On her conscience is the death of Constance and the incitement of d'Artagnan to murder de Wardes. Another - her very first victim - a young priest seduced by her, whom she persuaded to steal church utensils. Condemned to hard labor for this, the Shepherd of God laid hands on himself. His brother, an executioner from Lille, made it his life's goal to take revenge on my lady. Once he already overtook her and branded her, but the criminal then disappeared into the castle of Count de la Fer - Athos and, keeping silent about the unfortunate past, married him. Inadvertently discovering deception, Athos, in a rage, committed lynching against his wife: he hung her on a tree. Fate gave her another chance: the Countess de la Fer was rescued, and she returned to life and to her vile deeds under the name of Lady Winter. Having given birth to a son, my lady poisoned Vinter and received a rich inheritance; but this was not enough for her, and she dreamed of a share belonging to her brother-in-law.
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After presenting all of the above accusations to her, the Musketeers and Vinter entrust Milady to the Lille executioner. Athos gives him a wallet with gold - payment for hard work, but he throws gold into the river: "Today I am not doing my craft, but my duty." In the moonlight, the blade of his broad sword shines ... Three days later, the Musketeers return to Paris and appear to their captain de Treville. “Well, gentlemen,” the brave captain asks them. "Did you have a good time on vacation?" - "Excellent!" - is responsible for himself and for the friends of Athos.