Short summary - Twenty Years After - Alexandre Dumas

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - Twenty Years After
Alexandre Dumas

Mid-17th century Encouraged by Fronde, the people of Paris grumble: deputies, merchants, the judiciary are outraged by the policy of Cardinal Mazarin, who is sucking all the juice from taxpayers. The Queen, on her way to Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral, was pursued by a crowd of women crying out for justice. The people also crowded on the way of the young King Louis XIV, who was returning to the palace from Parliament, where he announced several verdicts, one more ruinous than the other. Even the first President of Parliament openly opposed the king's interference in the rights of the deputies. In the Palais Royal, a merchant foreman threatens with unrest and a real riot if Mazarin does not stop his hostile actions. And the excitement is already noticeable on the streets of the capital ...

Mazarin - hated by everyone, a foreigner of low origin, who is hated by ridicule, the faint shadow of the most powerful Richelieu - feels the earth shaking under his feet. He needs reliable support. Dressed in a musketeer's uniform, he summons Lieutenant d'Artagnan, who once rendered invaluable services to Her Majesty the Queen. Mazarin asks him to bring from the Bastille de Rochefort imprisoned there: he and d'Artagnan are two boots of a pair in the machinations of the past. It's time to serve them and new times. Rochefort tells the cardinal that Athos, Porthos and Aramis accompanied d'Artagnan in all his exploits - but where are they now? God knows! .. To the amazement of Rochefort, he is escorted back to prison; and he had already managed to stretch out the hand of a friend to his old adversary d'Artagnan and swear in eternal peace! However, d'Artagnan is only the executor of Mazarin's orders; a cardinal, not a musketeer, is Rochefort's fierce foe. On the way to the prison of Rochefort, the outrageous Parisians are beating off the guards: everyone who sits in the Bastille is their idol. At a new meeting with d'Artagnan, Rochefort confirms the oath given to him and undertakes to help find his three friends. Finding them is the will of Mazarin, which means Her Majesty the Queen, the beloved of the cardinal and the de facto ruler of France until her son reaches the age of majority.

D'Artagnan's natural instinct and his ability to untie any language lead him in turn to three Musketeers who have said goodbye to a turbulent life: Aramis - the abbot, Athos and Porthos taste the quiet joys of being on their estates.

Porthos innocently agrees to be a companion of d'Artagnan: they are both soldiers, and, moreover, they do not serve France unselfishly. Other cut - Aramis and Athos.

Athos expresses himself much more sharply than Aramis: the honor of the nobleman does not allow him to serve Mazarin - this scoundrel, this usurer who does not give a queen to a penny and is about to unleash an internecine war in France. As soon as he waited for the departure of d'Artagnan, who had fulfilled the cardinal's order only by a third, the Comte de la fer - Athos informs his adopted son Raoul, the Viscount de Bragelon: "In the evening we are going to Paris."

Upon arrival in the capital, he introduces Raoul to the Countess de Chevreuse; from their conversation, one can guess that the viscount is the fruit of one frivolous adventure, one love night, experienced by them in their youth. Athos entrusts the Countess with Raoul's care while he is away; he will have a dangerous journey ...

Meanwhile, Rochefort arranges a prison break for the Duke de Beaufort, who was the Queen's favorite after the death of Louis XIII, hidden behind bars by the new idol of Her Majesty - Mazarin. The cardinal sends d'Artagnan and Porthos to search for a dangerous fugitive. Leaving Paris, d'Artagnan at full gallop knocks down a passer-by. If he died under the hooves, history would have flowed differently; but this man, councilor of the Brussels Parliament, remains alive. Paris regards the incident as a political assassination attempt, the entire Fronde these days pays visits to Brussels, the air is electrified with threats against the cardinal.

Driving one horse after another, the Musketeers overtake the Duke de Beaufort. The forces, alas, are not equal: he is accompanied by a detachment of fifty people, among whom d'Artagnan and Porthos recognize not only Rochefort, but also Aramis and Athos. This circumstance saves their lives. “Princes, ministers, kings, like a muddy stream, will sweep and disappear - and we will remain the same,” the four heroes are convinced. - Whether we are supporters of the cardinal or the Fronde - does it matter in the face of our friendship, our willingness to help each other in trouble! Let us be loyal to our union to the end! .. ”

Viscount de Bragelon - on the approaching end of the war with Spain. On the battlefield, he picks up a mortally wounded priest and takes him to a hotel. The Holy Father wants to confess. The case turns itself: Raoul and his friend de Guiche meet a wandering monk on the road. Accepting the confession of a dying man, this monk learns that before him is his mother's executioner, Milady Vinter. Hiding under a monastic robe, an English spy John-Francis Winter-Mordaunt kills the one whose confession he has accepted. Before giving up the ghost, the repentant executioner tells who he is and who his killer is, Grimaud, the squire of Athos, Raoul's companion on a military campaign. Grimaud rushes to Paris; he guesses that Milady's son is directing his footsteps there, this threatens the lives of several witnesses to the execution of Lady Winter ...

In Paris - Mordaunt's uncle, brother of the ill-fated Milady Lord Winter. He was sent by King Charles I of England to ask the French queen and Cardinal Mazarin for military and political assistance in opposing the army of rebels under the leadership of Cromwell. The English queen, living in exile in Paris in a Carmelite monastery, is in despair: Lord Vinter failed to persuade France to side with Charles I, who was losing the crown. Vinter is trying to console his empress: there are still people in France who are ready to help us! These are d'Artagnan and his friends, who have already once proved their courage and true nobility to the British Empire. Lord Winter visits Athos. An old friend grieves him: d'Artagnan and Porthos are servants of the cardinal. But Aramis and I are at your disposal!

At the pier in Boulogne, Aramis, Athos and Vinter lie in wait for Mordaunt, who is ready to avenge his mother (he brought a secret letter to Mazarin from Cromwell demanding to remain neutral at this moment of Charles's fall, and the letter played a role in the decision taken by the queen). Mordount fails to get on the ship that his uncle and two Musketeers are sailing to England. He is ready to follow in their footsteps on the next free ship.

At this time, Brussels is arrested in Paris. The people take to the streets and clashes with the army. Rochefort, who stood at the head of the Fronde, together with other instigators of the riots, demands the immediate release of his leader. The queen is forced to sign the ultimatum presented to her, but she harbors hatred for the distraught subjects in her heart: “I and the young king must leave Paris. The mob will be confused when they see that their ruler is not on the throne - and then I will incinerate this vile city! " Accompanied by the irreplaceable d'Artagnan, she and her ten-year-old son leave the capital and find refuge in Saint-Germain. A few hours earlier, by the same d'Artagnan, he was miraculously taken out of Paris and Mazarin ...

Returning to Paris, d'Artagnan receives a letter from Athos and Aramis: they are in a dangerous situation, they entrust him with the care of Raoul and bequeath revenge to Mordaunt. They do not give their addresses deliberately, knowing that the duty of friendship can expose their friends to the same danger that now threatens them. It was at this time that D'Artagnan sent Mazarin to England with a secret message. He and Porthos make the sea route in the company of Mordaunt, who was waiting for them in Boulogne. Then their route is to Newcastle, to the camp of Charles I. Here Athos and Aramis have already appeared, accompanied by Lord Winter. His Majesty knights two brave Musketeers. Unfortunately, they will not have to serve the king of England for long: the Scottish Guards go over to the side of Cromwell, the king is captured. Lord Winter, who protected him, is killed by Mordaunt. All four Musketeers captured together with Charles I manage to escape. Now their duty is to bail out the king.

At the council of war, the idea is ripening to get into the confidence of the captive Charles, to make friends with the soldiers and to disarm rivals while playing a card game. This plan is thwarted at the last moment by Mordaunt, who ran into the guardhouse shouting: "This is treason!" ...

The king is sentenced to death. On the night before the execution of his sentence, Aramis, dressed as Bishop, appears in White Hall and warns that his escape is being prepared. People loyal to the king will kidnap the executioner at dawn, the execution will be postponed for a day - and a day will be enough to save His Majesty from death!

Four musketeers, disguised as carpenters, occupy pre-designated places near the scaffold and under its flooring. To their horror, another executioner ascends to the scaffold. Karl touchingly says goodbye to the people and puts his head on the chopping block. Athos, hiding under the scaffold, feels that his forehead is wet; runs his palm over it - this is the blood of a decapitated monarch.

The executioner - as it soon turns out - is none other than Mordaunt. Having met with him, the musketeers cast lots: which of them will be the first to fight this scoundrel. The choice falls on d'Artagnan. Retreating closer and closer to the wall, Mordaunt suddenly vanishes into thin air: he managed to escape through a secret door.

Pursuing Mordaunt, the Musketeers find themselves on the ship, where he is hiding. The captain immediately informs Mordaunt of their penetration into the ship. He is preparing a grand farewell performance: he sets fire to the fuse leading to the barrels of gunpowder. The Musketeers, by pure chance, are initiated into this plan - and jump onto the boat tied to the side of the ship before Mordaunt can do it. From a safe distance, friends watch him doom ... but isn't he the devil? Moments later, they see his head above the water. He was one of the whole team who survived. He swims to them, he begs them for help, he grabs the hand of Athos that was extended to him - and pulls him into the water. It seems that for ages neither one nor the other is visible. Finally, the corpse of my lady's son, her fiend, with a dagger in his heart, emerges from under the water, and then - alive and unharmed Athos.

From the fire - into the fire: from the confused England - to the rebellious Paris. It is the duty of the musketeers to extinguish this flame. They are taking bold steps: they are fleeing from the imprisonment to which the queen subjected them for preferring the call of the heart to the highest commands and not following the orders of Her Majesty and His Eminence. At the same moment, as all four are free, Mazarin becomes their prisoner.

At the castle of Porthos in Pierrefonds, the cardinal signs the act of surrender to Parliament - an agreement drawn up by the deputation of the Fronde. Amid the enthusiastic cries of the still angry people yesterday, the queen and the little king enter Paris. Returns to his palace and Mazarin. The last riotous crowd, led by Rochefort, makes an attempt to pull the cardinal out of the carriage - but their leader runs into d'Artagnan's sword. The rabble rushes scatteringly. Bleeding Rochefort manages to say: “This is fate. I was cured three times after the thrust of your sword. For the fourth time, a miracle, apparently, will not happen ... "D'Artagnan is sincerely upset:" Count, I did not see that it was you. I would not want you to leave this life with a feeling of hatred towards me! "

Eternal enemies are shaking hands in a friendly manner ... The

little king, returning to the Palais-Royal, remarks to his mother: "Monsieur d'Artagnan is brave." “Yes, my son,” Queen Anne replies. "Be nicer to him."

Ten years will pass, and Louis XIV will be fully convinced of how important this is - and how difficult ...