As planned, Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and d’Artagnan meet up at 4 p.m. Planchet shows up and hands d’Artagnan two letters. The first is from a woman that might be Madame Bonacieux who wants d’Artagnan to meet her on a nearby road. The second is a letter from the cardinal, which strongly encourages d’Artagnan to come and visit him. Both letters are suspicious to d’Artagnan and his friends, but they decide that they must follow both leads, even if they turn out to be traps.
After learning nothing about Madame Bonacieux during his time with Milady, d’Artagnan suddenly gets some information out of nowhere. He is right to worry that the letter might be a trap. However, if it is a trap set by the cardinal, then it is odd that it would arrive on the same day as a summons from the cardinal.
Together with his friends, d’Artagnan rides to the spot where he hopes to see Madame Bonacieux. Indeed, at the time stated in the letter, a carriage passes by d’Artagnan, and he thinks he catches a glimpse of the woman he loves. However, because the letter asked d’Artagnan not to interfere with the carriage, a glimpse is all he can get for now. He wonders whether the carriage is transporting Madame Bonacieux between prisons.
This scene is an ambiguous moment in the narrative that doesn’t definitively provide an update on Madame Bonacieux’s status. For now, both d’Artagnan and the reader must content themselves with not knowing. After all, even if the woman was Madame Bonacieux, the nature of her carriage ride is unknown. She could be free of the cardinal, or she could be on the way to a different prison.
Up next, d’Artagnan heads to his meeting with the cardinal. Once again, his friends ride along with him. They also bring a number of other musketeers to back them up in case a real fight breaks out. When d’Artagnan arrives at the cardinal’s residence, he is taken to a library. Once there, d’Artagnan sees a man who he recognizes as the cardinal.
D'Artagnan knows that the letter from the cardinal is not something he can simply ignore. Regardless of whether they will be effective, the musketeers stay as close to d’Artagnan as they can as a show of solidarity.