Candide, by Voltaire

Chapter IV.

Fresh favors conferred on Candide; his great advancement.

As soon as our hero was cured, he was introduced to the king, to return him his thanks. The monarch received him very graciously. He gave him two or three hearty boxes on the ear during their conversation, and conducted him back as far as the guard-room, with several sound kicks on the posterior; at which the courtiers were ready to burst for envy. Since his majesty had been in a drubbing humor, no person had ever received such signal marks of his majesty’s favor in this way as did Candide.

Three days after this interview, our philosopher, who was enraged at the favors he had received, and thought that everything went very bad, was nominated governor of Chusistan, with an absolute power. He was decorated with a fur cap, which is a grand mark of distinction in Persia. He took his leave of the sophi and departed for Sus, the capital of his province. From the moment that Candide made his appearance at court the grandees had plotted his destruction. The excessive favors which the sophi had heaped on him served but to increase the storm ready to burst upon his head. He, however, applauded himself on his good fortune; and especially his removal from court; he enjoyed in prospect the pleasures of supreme rank, and he said from the bottom of his heart:

“How blest the subject from his lord removed!”

He had not gone quite twenty miles from Ispahan before five hundred horsemen, armed cap-a-pie, came up with him and his attendants and discharged a volley of firearms upon them. Candide imagined at first that this was intended to do him an honor; but the ball which broke his leg soon gave him to know what was going on. His people laid down their arms, and Candide, more dead than alive, was carried to a castle remote from any other dwelling. His baggage, camels, slaves, white and black eunuchs, with thirty-six women which the sophi had given him for his use, all became the prey of the conqueror. Our hero’s leg was cut off for fear of mortification, and care was taken of his life, that a more cruel death might be inflicted on him.

“O Pangloss! Pangloss! what would now become of your optimism if you saw me short of one leg in the hands of my cruelest enemies; just as I was entering upon the path of happiness, and was governor, or king, as one may say, of one of the most considerable provinces of the empire of ancient Media; when I had camels, slaves, black and white eunuchs, and thirty-six women for my own use, and of which I had not made any?” Thus Candide spoke as soon as he was able to speak.

But while he was thus bemoaning himself, everything was going for the best for him. The ministry, informed of the outrages committed against him, had detached a body of well-disciplined troops in pursuit of the mutineers, and the monk Ed-Ivan-Baal-Denk took care to publish by means of others of his fraternity that Candide, being the work of the monks, was consequently the work of God. Such as had any knowledge of this atrocious attempt were so much the more ready to discover it, as the ministers of religion gave assurance on the part of Mahomet that every one who had eaten pork, drank wine, omitted bathing for any number of days together, or had conversed with women at the time of their impurity, against the express prohibitions of the Koran, should be, ipso facto, absolved, upon declaring what they knew concerning the conspiracy. They soon discovered the place of Candide’s confinement, which they broke open; and as it was a religious affair the party worsted were exterminated to a man, agreeably to custom in that case. Candide, marching over a heap of dead bodies, made his escape, triumphed over the greatest peril he had hitherto encountered, and with his attendants resumed the road to his government. He was received there as a favorite who had been honored with fifty blows of a lash on the soles of his feet in the presence of the king of kings.

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