D’Artagnan makes his way to the Carmes-Deschaux monastery for his first duel with Athos. He doesn’t bring anyone with him as a second because he just arrived in Paris and doesn’t know anyone yet. On his way to the duel, he thinks about ways to get himself out of his current predicament. D’Artagnan thinks that he might be able to apologize to Athos, make Porthos see that their duel looks ridiculous, and then simply fight and win against Aramis.
Historically, duels included “seconds.” A second was someone who came along with the primary dueler to make sure everything was on the level. At least, that was supposed to be their job. In reality, seconds often showed up intending to join the fight. Because d’Artagnan doesn’t have a second, his position is especially dire.
D’Artagnan arrives exactly on time at the monastery, where he finds Athos. Athos tells him that they will need to wait a few minutes for his seconds to arrive. While they wait, d’Artagnan offers Athos some of his mother’s salve to treat Athos’s injury. D’Artagnan suggests that Athos apply the salve and then the men can meet again to fight in a few days. Athos appreciates the offer but declines it. He knows that if they wait a few days, the cardinal’s men will find out about the duel and put a stop to it.
D'Artagnan does his best to make amends, but it is already too late. Ironically, both d’Artagnan and Athos conduct themselves appropriately under such circumstances; if they could’ve done the same earlier, there would be no need for the duel. Additionally, it is essential to mention that dueling was outlawed in Paris during this period, which is why Athos doesn’t want to postpone the duel.
Eventually, Athos’s seconds arrive. As it turns out, his seconds are Porthos and Aramis. All three musketeers are surprised to learn that they each have a duel scheduled with d’Artagnan. As they sort out the details of what happened, d’Artagnan is polite and doesn’t reveal the exact circumstances that led to the duels because he knows they would embarrass Porthos and Aramis.
Again, d’Artagnan acts like a gentleman and does not reveal the exact circumstances of each encounter. This honorable behavior is undoubtedly recognized by Porthos and Aramis, although they do not say anything so as not to give themselves away. If d’Artagnan had conducted himself similarly earlier in the day, all of this drama could’ve been avoided.
At a quarter past noon, d’Artagnan and Athos are about to begin their duel when they are stopped by the cardinal’s men. The cardinal’s men are led by Monsieur de Jussac, who tells the musketeers to lay down their arms. The musketeers are tempted to do so because they are outnumbered three to five against the cardinal’s men. However, d’Artagnan seizes the moment and allies himself with the musketeers. He promises to fight on their side, even though it might mean losing his life.
The cardinal’s men act as though they are superior, but they have no more power than the musketeers. Although they pretend they are upholding the law, the cardinal’s men are just trying to start a fight because they know the musketeers won’t back down. This scene is significant for d’Artagnan because he chooses a side in the rivalry between the king and the cardinal. At the same time, he also redeems himself in the eyes of the musketeers.
A fight breaks out between the cardinal’s men, d’Artagnan, and the musketeers. Everyone fights one on one except Aramis, who fights two men at once. D’Artagnan is paired up with Jussac, who he eventually manages to severely wound after Jussac becomes impatient. Having dispatched his man, d’Artagnan moves to help the injured Athos. Together they manage to get the best of Athos’s combatant. In the end, the musketeers and d’Artagnan are victorious; they dispatch most of the cardinal’s men and force the rest to surrender. Happy with their victory, d’Artagnan and the musketeers make their way back to M. de Tréville’s home. At this point, d’Artagnan feels that he is well on his way to becoming a musketeer.
D'Artagnan proves he is a capable fighter by wounding Jussac and helping Athos. The only more impressive fighter is Aramis, who manages to handle two men at once. The fight bonds d’Artagnan to the musketeers, and from this moment forward, they become good friends. As it turns out, d’Artagnan’s father’s advice to fight all the time had some merit. Every time d’Artagnan had the opportunity, he chose to fight rather than run, and as a result, he is now on the path to becoming a musketeer.