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The Cardinal waits impatiently for news from Milady, while the siege continues. It seems certain that the Rochellese will eventually give in; their only hope is the Duke of Buckingham. Everyone is caught in limbo, waiting for some development.
The Cardinal, to speed up La Rochelle's submission, orders fliers to be thrown over the walls of the town, designed to incite the population into revolt against a leadership that is making them starve. A rebellion against the city's leaders starts brewing, but at that point word comes from Buckingham that he will be there with a full fleet of ships in a week, along with forces from Spain and Austria. This news gives the people of La Rochelle the strength to go on, and defeats the Cardinal's efforts.
The waiting continues, and the Cardinal takes to riding along the beach to be alone with his thoughts. One day, he comes across the musketeers in the dunes, reading a letter. He tries to sneak up on them, but Grimaud spots him and calls the Musketeers to attention. The Cardinal and Athos then have a conversation about the letter, which starts out courteously enough but ends with Athos having the nerve to insult the Cardinal with a reminder of his past affairs with women, and all but refusing to show him the letter. Angry, yet all the more convinced that he must have the musketeers working for him, the Cardinal stalks off.
The musketeers then return to the letter, which is from Madame de Chevreuse to Aramis. Madame de Chevreuse has found out, through the Queen, where Madame Bonacieux is being kept--she is safe in a Carmelite Convent in Bethune, a small town. D'Artagnan is overjoyed at this news, and the Musketeers decide that, after the siege, they will go the Convent to retrieve her.
In England, Milady frantically plots her escape. All seems lost for her, especially after Lord de Winter shows her the order for her banishment, to be enacted in three days. Milady finds the weakness she needs to escape; however, John Felton, Lord de Winter's right hand man, is a Protestant. Milady poses as a Protestant herself, and slowly wears down the inexperienced young man's defenses with her beauty and mock religious fervor. She feigns illness to gain his sympathy, then begs him to allow her to commit suicide, playing the role of a martyr.
Her coup comes on her fifth night of captivity. Felton has become quite sympathetic to her, and she tells him the "true" story of de Winter's hate for her. She says that she was captured and raped, repeatedly, by the Duke of Buckingham himself in an attempt to make her his mistress. When, on the grounds of her religious convictions, she still refused to join him, Buckingham had her branded with the Fleur-de-Lis to assure that no one would ever believe her story. She then married Lord de Winter's brother, and told him of Buckingham's crimes. However, Buckingham killed her husband before he could avenge her, and no one else knew the story. So she fled to France, but she was forced to return to England, at which point Lord de Winter, having been influenced by Buckingham, captured her.
In accordance to that fact that Athos is always melancholy, we actually do know the source. During the book, while Athos and d'Artagnan get drunk, we discover Athos had an ex-wife, which turns out to be Milady. Later, we find that Athos did not know that Milady was a criminal when he fell in love with her. When he learns of her past, he believes that he hangs her.
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It's my favorite book and favorite writer. Also I adore "The Count of Monte Cristo".
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