When d’Artagnan enters M. de Tréville’s antechamber, the leader of the musketeers is in a bad mood. Before even bothering to speak with d’Artagnan, M. de Tréville angrily orders Athos, Porthos, and Aramis into the room. Only Porthos and Aramis, the two whom d’Artagnan is already familiar with, enter. At first, M. de Tréville doesn’t seem to realize that Athos is absent. He begins berating Porthos and Aramis because the king recently told M. de Tréville that he should start recruiting musketeers from the cardinal’s guard. The king and, in turn, M. de Tréville are angry with the musketeers because they won’t stop causing problems in public.
At first, M. de Tréville’s anger suggests that he is not in the mood to help d’Artagnan. Instead, he is preoccupied with the aforementioned rivalry between the musketeers and the cardinal’s men, which has boiled over into the public. M. de Tréville knows that such behavior is a bad look for himself and the king, both of whom need to remain on the public’s good side.
M. de Tréville knows that Athos, Porthos, and Aramis were involved in a brawl with the cardinal’s men just the other day, which resulted in multiple deaths and arrests. As he relates this information to Porthos and Aramis, he suddenly realizes that Athos isn’t present. He asks the other two musketeers where he is. At first, Porthos lies and says that Athos has smallpox. M. de Tréville knows this is a lie and pushes for the real answer. Porthos then reveals that Athos was grievously wounded during the brawl with the cardinal’s men. At hearing this news, M. de Tréville softens his tone. Aramis asks M. de Tréville not to relate the news of Athos’s injury to the king, but before their conversation can continue further, Athos enters the room.
Although M. de Tréville is angry, he does not let his anger override his compassion for his men. Athos’s wound is more serious to him than anything the musketeers could’ve done to offend the king or the cardinal. Meanwhile, Porthos’s and Aramis’s responses indicate that they are trying to protect their friend’s honor. While the previous chapter shows the musketeers at their most irreverent, this scene shows them at their most vulnerable. Although he is not the focus of this scene, d’Artagnan witnesses it, and it informs his idea of what it means to be a musketeer.
Astonished that such a severely wounded man would bother answering his summons, M. de Tréville rushes to Athos and aggressively shakes his hand. This sudden action causes Athos a great deal of pain (it is his shoulder that is injured) and he falls to the floor. M. de Tréville calls for a surgeon, who takes Athos into a side room and examines him. Eventually the surgeon emerges and says that Athos will be fine; he’s just lost a lot of blood and needs time to recover. After he knows that Athos is okay, M. de Tréville dismisses the other two musketeers, leaving him alone with d’Artagnan.
This scene is more comical than it is dramatic, as M. de Tréville’s concern and respect for Athos ironically only causes him more pain. There is never any fear that Athos’s life is actually in danger. In all the chaos, d’Artagnan is completely forgotten, although M. de Tréville finally remembers him at the end of this section.
While all of the drama with the three musketeers went on, d’Artagnan simply stood still and watched, embarrassed that he was privy to these seemingly personal events. However, M. de Tréville now gives d’Artagnan his full attention. Excited to finally get the audience he requested, d’Artagnan introduces himself and states his purpose: he wants M. de Tréville to make him a musketeer. M. de Tréville appreciates d’Artagnan’s boldness and respects his father very much, but he tells him that he cannot personally make him a musketeer. Musketeers are chosen by the king and qualified candidates must have much more experience than d’Artagnan currently possesses.
Although d’Artagnan is respectful, his request is rather absurd. He wants to be one of the highest-ranking soldiers in France only one day after arriving in Paris. However, M. de Tréville recognizes that d’Artagnan is acting from a place of excitement and youthful ignore rather than one of hubris or disrespect, which is why he agrees to help him.
However, M. de Tréville offers to help d’Artagnan in other ways. Namely, he promises to give him a letter, which will allow him to attend the Royal Academy for free. At the Royal Academy, d’Artagnan will learn all of the skills befitting a gentleman, including horsemanship, dancing, and swordsmanship. At first d'Artagnan is skeptical—he does not want to accept charity—but M. de Tréville insists.
M. de Tréville knows that d’Artagnan cannot become a musketeer without the proper training. D’Artagnan is ambitious, but he has no idea how to behave in Parisian society. D’Artagnan initially rejects M. de Tréville’s offer because he doesn’t think accepting charity is honorable. However, he trusts that M. de Tréville knows better than him and decides to do what he says.
Charitable though he is, M. de Tréville does note that he is surprised d’Artagnan didn’t come bearing a letter from his father. D’Artagnan then relates the story of what happened in Meung. Upon hearing the story, M. de Tréville recognizes the stranger and seems to value the information that d’Artagnan provides. However, he also briefly becomes skeptical of whether d’Artagnan is telling the truth. He entertains the idea that d’Artagnan might be a spy for the cardinal. Quickly, he sets this idea aside because d'Artagnan’s behavior suggests that he is telling the truth.
The identity of the stranger remains a mystery throughout the early part of the novel. Clearly, he is an important person, and he evidently has ties to the cardinal, hence M. de Tréville’s reaction. Here, M. de Tréville demonstrates that he is a good judge of character; after only a moment’s thought, he realizes that d’Artagnan cannot be the stranger’s ally.
Before d’Artagnan leaves, M. de Tréville presents d’Artagnan with his letter for the Royal Academy. As d’Artagnan takes hold of the letter, he suddenly becomes enraged once again at the thought of the stranger stealing the letter meant for M. de Tréville and he openly swears vengeance before departing. M. de Tréville is taken aback by this sudden change of mood but allows d’Artagnan to go on his way.
D'Artagnan’s rage comes out of nowhere and is almost comical in nature. Although the rage is entertaining, it is also a character flaw in d’Artagnan that is sure to get him in trouble if he doesn’t learn how to tame it and access it appropriately.