Candide, by Voltaire

Chapter XV.

The arrival of Wolhall — a journey to Copenhagen.

Candide and Zenoida amused themselves with discoursing on the works of the Deity, the worship which mankind ought to pay Him, the mutual duties they owe to each other, especially that of charity, the most useful of all virtues. They did not confine themselves to frivolous declamations. Candide taught the young men the respect due to the sacred restraints of the laws; Zenoida instructed the young women in the duties they owed their parents; both joined their endeavors to sow the hopeful seeds of religion in their young hearts. One day, as they were busied in those pious offices, Sunama came to tell Zenoida that an old gentleman with several servants was just alighted at their house; and that, by the description he had given her of a person of whom he was in search, she was certain it could be no other than Zenoida herself. This stranger had followed Sunama close at her heels, and entered, before she had done speaking, into the room where were Candide and Zenoida.

At sight of him Zenoida instantly fainted away; but Wolhall, not in the least affected with the condition he saw her in, took hold of her hand, and, pulling her to him, with violence, brought her to her senses; which she had no sooner recovered than she burst into a flood of tears. “So, niece,” said he, with a sarcastic smile, “I find you in very good company. I do not wonder you prefer this habitation to the capital, to my house, and the company of your family.” “Yes, sir,” replied Zenoida, “I do prefer this place, where dwell simplicity and truth, to the mansions of treason and imposture. I can never behold but with horror that place where first began my misfortunes; where I have had so many proofs of your black actions, and where I have no other relative but yourself.” “Come, madam,” said Wolhall, “follow me, if you please; for you must accompany me, even if you should faint again.” Saying this, he dragged her to the door of the house, and made her get into a post-chaise, which was waiting for him. She had only time to tell Candide to follow, and to bestow her blessing on her hosts, with promises of rewarding them amply for their generous cares.

A domestic of Wolhall was moved with pity at the grief in which he saw Candide plunged; he imagined that he felt no other concern for the fair Dane than what unfortunate virtue inspires: he proposed to him taking a journey to Copenhagen, and he facilitated the means for his doing it. He did more; he insinuated to him that he might be admitted as one of Wolhall’s domestics, if he had no other resources than going to service. Candide liked his proposal; and had no sooner arrived than his future fellow-servant presented him as one of his relatives, for whom he would be answerable. “Rascal,” said Wolhall to him, “I consent to grant you the honor of approaching a person of such rank as I am: never forget the profound respect which you owe to my commands; execute them if you have sufficient sagacity for it: think that a man like me degrades himself in speaking to a wretch such as you.” Our philosopher answered with great humility to this impertinent discourse; and from that day he was clad in his master’s livery.

It is easy to imagine the joy and surprise that Zenoida felt when she recognized her lover among her uncle’s servants. She threw several opportunities in the way of Candide, who knew how to profit by them: they swore eternal constancy. Zenoida had some unhappy moments. She sometimes reproached herself on account of her love for Candide; she vexed him sometimes by a few caprices: but Candide idolized her; he knew that perfection is not the portion of man, and still less so of woman. Zenoida resumed her good humor. The kind of constraint under which they lay rendered their pleasures the more lively; they were still happy.

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