D’Artagnan departs M. de Tréville’s antechamber angry and determined to find the stranger who stole his letter. In his rage, he accidentally collides with Athos and hits the musketeer in the shoulder. Athos howls in pain and chastises d’Artagnan for his behavior. Never one to back down from a challenge, d'Artagnan provides an angry retort. Incensed, Athos challenges d’Artagnan to a duel at noon by the Carmes-Deschaux monastery. D’Artagnan accepts the challenge and continues on his way.
It is unclear why d’Artagnan expects that he’ll be able to find the stranger. He acts entirely based on emotion and without logic. In d’Artagnan’s blind rage, he makes an enemy out of Athos, one of the very people he should be trying to win over. Instead, following his father’s advice, d’Artagnan gets into his second fight in the last 24 hours.
Before d’Artagnan can leave M. de Tréville’s residence, he collides with another musketeer. This time it is Porthos; d’Artagnan attempts to get by him, but the wind blows Porthos’s cape up into d’Artagnan’s face and the two get tangled with each another. Once again, a shouting match starts up, the result of which is a duel. This time, the two agree to meet at 1 p.m. behind the Luxembourg.
Never one to take half-measures, d’Artagnan ends up in a second duel that is meant to take place just one hour after his duel with Athos. What d'Artagnan fails to realize as he continues challenging people to duels is that the musketeers are some of the best swordsmen around. While d’Artagnan could possibly defeat Athos (given his injury), it seems unlikely that he’ll be able to defeat two musketeers in one day.
Still eager to find the stranger, d’Artagnan begins asking around town whether anyone has seen him. However, he has no luck. Eventually, d’Artagnan calms down and realizes what he’s done. He’s made not one, but two musketeers angry at him; he knows both are likely capable of killing him three times over. Realizing his mistake, d’Artagnan starts to think about how to get on the musketeers’ good side. While pondering the matter, he spots Aramis talking to three of the king’s guards. As Aramis talks, a handkerchief falls out of his pocket. D’Artagnan sees the handkerchief fall and realizes that this is his moment to start to make amends with the musketeers.
Here, d’Artagnan recognizes his mistake and decides to make amends. He knows that even if he wins the duels, he’ll have to answer to M. de Tréville, who cares deeply about his men. However, despite his change of heart, d’Artagnan’s rage can erupt at any moment, meaning that this interaction with Aramis needs to go smoothly to succeed.
D’Artagnan approaches the four men and immediately realizes that he is not welcome. Nonetheless, he bends down and picks up the handkerchief, which is under Aramis’s foot. As he does so, he notices that Aramis does not move his foot to help him. Still, he proceeds with the task and then politely hands the handkerchief to Aramis. Immediately, the other men begin to make fun of Aramis because the handkerchief belongs to Madame de Bois-Tracy, a married woman.
Aramis’s refusal to remove his foot is not a good sign for d’Artagnan. It suggests that Aramis either doesn’t want the handkerchief moved or is purposely being rude to d’Artagnan. Both options are likely to cause a fight. Although it appears to be a trivial object, the handkerchief will be important to keep an eye on as the novel progresses. The insinuation, in this case, is that Aramis is having an affair with Madame de Bois-Tracy.
Aramis tries to convince the other guards that the handkerchief is not his, but they don’t believe him. Soon afterward, their conversation ends, and Aramis goes off on his own. D’Artagnan follows him and tries to make amends. However, Aramis is still annoyed and so he chastises d’Artagnan. At first, d’Artagnan remains amiable, but before long he becomes angry once again. Unsurprisingly, their argument ends when Aramis proposes a duel and d’Artagnan accepts. This one is set to take place near Monsieur de Tréville’s residence at 2 p.m. As he walks away from this encounter, d’Artagnan thinks to himself that if he is to be killed, at least it will be by a musketeer.
Although it is socially acceptable for the musketeers to partake in love affairs—often with married women—they are expected to keep them a secret. It would be considered rude to talk openly about one’s love affairs because of the dishonor it would bring to the woman involved. That said, some of the musketeers are not as good at keeping their affairs secret as they think they are. Unsurprisingly, the conversation between d’Artagnan and Aramis does not go well, and yet another duel is proposed—d’Artagnan’s third of the day.