Candide, by Voltaire

Chapter XIII.

how Candide was obliged to leave the fair Cunegund and the old woman.

The fair Cunegund, being thus made acquainted with the history of the old woman’s life and adventures, paid her all the respect and civility due to a person of her rank and merit. She very readily acceded to her proposal of engaging the passengers to relate their adventures in their turns, and was at length, as well as Candide, compelled to acknowledge that the old woman was in the right. “It is a thousand pities,” said Candide, “that the sage Pangloss should have been hanged contrary to the custom of an auto-da-fé, for he would have given us a most admirable lecture on the moral and physical evil which overspreads the earth and sea; and I think I should have courage enough to presume to offer (with all due respect) some few objections.”

While everyone was reciting his adventures, the ship continued her way, and at length arrived at Buenos Ayres, where Cunegund, Captain Candide, and the old woman, landed and went to wait upon the governor Don Fernando d’Ibaraa y Figueora y Mascarenes y Lampourdos y Souza. This nobleman carried himself with a haughtiness suitable to a person who bore so many names. He spoke with the most noble disdain to everyone, carried his nose so high, strained his voice to such a pitch, assumed so imperious an air, and stalked with so much loftiness and pride, that everyone who had the honor of conversing with him was violently tempted to bastinade his excellency. He was immoderately fond of women, and Miss Cunegund appeared in his eyes a paragon of beauty. The first thing he did was to ask her if she was not the captain’s wife. The air with which he made this demand alarmed Candide, who did not dare to say he was married to her, because indeed he was not; neither did he venture to say she was his sister, because she was not: and though a lie of this nature proved of great service to one of the ancients, and might possibly be useful to some of the moderns, yet the purity of his heart would not permit him to violate the truth. “Miss Cunegund,” replied he, “is to do me the honor to marry me, and we humbly beseech your excellency to condescend to grace the ceremony with your presence.”

Don Fernando d’Ibaraa y Figueora y Mascarenes y Lampourdos y Souza, twirling his mustachio, and putting on a sarcastic smile, ordered Captain Candide to go and review his company. The gentle Candide obeyed, and the governor was left with Miss Cunegund. He made her a strong declaration of love, protesting that he was ready to give her his hand in the face of the church, or otherwise, as should appear most agreeable to a young lady of her prodigious beauty. Cunegund desired leave to retire a quarter of an hour to consult the old woman, and determine how she should proceed.

The old woman gave her the following counsel: “Miss, you have seventy-two quarterings in your arms, it is true, but you have not a penny to bless yourself with: it is your own fault if you do not become the wife of one of the greatest noblemen in South America, with an exceeding fine mustachio. What business have you to pride yourself upon an unshaken constancy? You have been outraged by a Bulgarian soldier; a Jew and an inquisitor have both tasted of your favors. People take advantage of misfortunes. I must confess, were I in your place, I should, without the least scruple, give my hand to the governor, and thereby make the fortune of the brave Captain Candide.” While the old woman was thus haranguing, with all the prudence that old age and experience furnish, a small bark entered the harbor, in which was an alcayde and his alguazils. Matters had fallen out as follows:

The old woman rightly guessed that the cordelier with the long sleeves, was the person who had taken Miss Cunegund’s money and jewels, while they and Candide were at Badajoz, in their flight from Lisbon. This same friar attempted to sell some of the diamonds to a jeweller, who presently knew them to have belonged to the grand inquisitor, and stopped them. The cordelier, before he was hanged, acknowledged that he had stolen them, and described the persons, and the road they had taken. The flight of Cunegund and Candide was already the towntalk. They sent in pursuit of them to Cadiz; and the vessel which had been sent to make the greater despatch, had now reached the port of Buenos Ayres. A report was spread that an alcayde was going to land, and that he was in pursuit of the murderers of my lord, the inquisitor. The sage old woman immediately saw what was to be done. “You cannot run away,” said she to Cunegund, “but you have nothing to fear; it was not you who killed my lord inquisitor: besides, as the governor is in love with you, he will not suffer you to be ill-treated; therefore stand your ground.” Then hurrying away to Candide, she said: “Be gone hence this instant, or you will be burned alive.” Candide found there was no time to be lost; but how could he part from Cunegund, and whither must he fly for shelter?

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Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 18:24