Milady arrives at the convent in Béthune where she meets an abbess who welcomes her warmly. Milady is kind to the abbess and tells her lots of stories about the outside world. Clearly, the abbess likes Milady’s stories, and so she continues to tell them. In particular, Milady is trying to gauge whether or not the woman likes the cardinal. Eventually, Milady figures out that the woman doesn’t like the cardinal, and so she uses that fact to her advantage. She tells the abbess that she is actually being hunted by the cardinal and needs somewhere safe to hide. The abbess responds by telling her that she is welcome to stay at the convent; after all, they are already hiding another woman from the cardinal.
Milady is a chameleon who blends into her environment in order to survive. She immediately develops a psychological profile of the abbess and uses her to get information. When the abbess mentions there is another woman hiding at the convent, the reader’s mind should go directly to Madame Bonacieux, even though Milady does not yet know that she’s stumbled upon the location of d’Artagnan’s lover.
Milady asks for the identity of the other woman, but the abbess doesn’t give a name. She simply tells her that the other woman will come and talk to her after she gets some rest. Milady does as she is told and then awakens to find Madame Bonacieux at the foot of her bed. Madame Bonacieux introduces herself to Milady and then vaguely explains her circumstances. She also mentions that she doesn’t plan to be in the convent for much longer. Additionally, when she gets out, she promises to put in a good word to the queen on Milady’s behalf.
This section of the chapter is built around dramatic irony; that is, the reader knows that Madame Bonacieux is the woman Milady is looking for, but Milady has yet to figure that out for herself. However, given Milady’s capacity to quickly get information out of almost anybody, especially someone who doesn’t suspect her of malice, Madame Bonacieux’s relationship to d’Artagnan is sure to come out sooner or later.
When Madame Bonacieux realizes that Milady has connections in Paris, she starts asking her about who she knows. Among other names, Milady lists d’Artagnan. Upon hearing the name of her beloved, Madame Bonacieux grows jealous and asks Milady if she was ever d’Artagnan’s mistress. Milady says that she wasn’t but admits to being his friend. Ultimately, Madame Bonacieux is happy to have Milady around because of their shared experience and shared friends. Meanwhile, Milady is happy to have found Madame Bonacieux because now she can finally get revenge on d’Artagnan.
Unwittingly, Madame Bonacieux gives herself away. Milady wants to hurt d’Artagnan just as badly as he hurt her, and Madame Bonacieux is the perfect opportunity. Of course, Milady doesn’t share the details of her relationship with d’Artagnan because she wants to keep Madame Bonacieux on her good side and make sure her identity stays a secret.
Madame Bonacieux tells Milady that she thinks d’Artagnan and his friends will be coming soon. This worries Milady; she doesn’t want to get caught before she can carry out her revenge plan and protect herself. While the women are talking, they hear horses coming their way. They look out the window to see who is coming. Milady sees that it is Rochefort and gets excited.
Just like her stay with Lord de Winter, Milady only has a limited amount of time to deal with Madame Bonacieux. Luckily for her, the horses she hears belong to Rochefort rather than the musketeers, allowing her more time to think and scheme.