Candide, by Voltaire

Chapter XVI.

How Candide found his wife again and lost his mistress.

Our hero had only to bear with the haughty humors of his master, and that was purchasing his mistress’ favors at no dear rate. Happy love is not so easily concealed as many imagine. Our lovers betrayed themselves. Their connection was no longer a mystery, but to the short-sighted eyes of Wolhall; all the domestics knew it. Candide received congratulations on that head which made him tremble; he expected the storm ready to burst upon his head, and did not doubt but a person who had been dear to him was upon the point of accelerating his misfortune. He had for some days perceived a face resembling Miss Cunegund; he again saw the same face in Wolhall’s courtyard: the object which struck him was poorly clothed, and there was no likelihood that a favorite of a great Mahometan should be found in the courtyard of a house at Copenhagen. This disagreeable object, however, looked at Candide very attentively: when, coming up to him, and seizing him by the hair, she gave him the smartest blow on the face with her open hand that he had received for some time. “I am not deceived!” cried our philosopher. “O, heavens! who would have thought it? what do you do here, after having suffered yourself to be violated by a follower of Mahomet? Go, perfidious spouse, I know you not.” “Thou shalt know me,” replied Cunegund, “by my outrageous fury. I know the life thou leadest, thy love for thy master’s niece, and thy contempt for me. Alas! it is now three months since I quitted the seraglio, because I was there good for nothing further. A merchant has bought me to mend his linen, he takes me along with him when he makes a voyage to this country; Martin, Cacambo, and Pacquette, whom he has also bought, are with me; Doctor Pangloss, through the greatest chance in the world, was in the same vessel as a passenger; we were shipwrecked some miles from here; I escaped the danger with the faithful Cacambo, who, I swear to thee, has a skin as firm as thy own: I behold thee again, and find thee false. Tremble then, and fear everything from a provoked wife.”

Candide was quite stupefied at this affecting scene; he had suffered Cunegund to depart, without thinking of the proper measures which are always to be taken with those who know our secrets, when Cacambo presented himself to his sight. They embraced each other with tenderness. Candide informed him of the conversation he had just had; he was very much affected by the loss of the great Pangloss, who, after having been hanged and burned, was at last unhappily drowned. They spoke with that free effusion of heart which friendship inspires. A little billet thrown in at the window by Zenoida put an end to the conversation. Candide opened it, and found in it these words:

“Fly, my dear lover, all is discovered. An innocent propensity which nature authorizes, and which hurts no one, is a crime in the eyes of credulous and cruel men. Wolhall has just left my chamber, and has treated me with the utmost inhumanity: he is gone to obtain an order for thee to be clapped into a dungeon, there to perish. Fly, my ever dear lover; preserve a life which thou canst not pass any longer near me. Those happy moments are no more, in which we gave proofs of our reciprocal tenderness. Ah! my beloved, how hast thou offended heaven, to merit so harsh a fate? But I wander from the purpose: remember always thy precious, dear Zenoida, and thou, my dear lover, shalt live eternally within my heart — thou hast never thoroughly understood how much I loved thee — canst thou receive upon my inflamed lips my last adieu! I find myself ready to join my unhappy father in the grave; the light is hateful to me; it serves only to reveal crimes.”

Cacambo, always wise and prudent, drew Candide, who no longer was himself, along with him; they made the best of their way out of the city. Candide opened not his mouth, and they were already a good way from Copenhagen, before he was roused from that lethargy in which he was buried. At last he looked at his faithful Cacambo, and spoke in these terms:

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