Candide, by Voltaire

Chapter XIX.

New discoveries.

Candide was not so unhappy, as he had a true friend. He found in a mongrel valet what the world vainly looks for in our quarter of the globe. Perhaps nature, which gives origin to herbs in America that are proper for the maladies of bodies on our continent, has also placed remedies there for the maladies of our hearts and minds. Possibly there are men in the new world of a quite different conformation from us, who are not slaves to personal interests, and are worthy to burn with the noble fire of friendship. How desirable would it be, that instead of bales of indigo and cochineal, all covered with blood, some of these men were imported among us! This sort of traffic would be of vast advantage to mankind. Cacambo was of greater value to Candide than a dozen of red sheep loaded with the pebbles of El Dorado. Our philosopher began again to taste the pleasure of life. It was a comfort to him to watch for the conservation of the human species, and not to be a useless member of society. God blessed such pure intentions, by giving him, as well as Cacambo, the enjoyment of health. They had got rid of the itch, and fulfilled with cheerfulness the painful functions of their station; but fortune soon deprived them of the security which they enjoyed. Cunegund, who had set her heart upon tormenting her husband, left Copenhagen to follow his footsteps. Chance brought her to the hospital; she was accompanied by a man, whom Candide knew to be Baron Thunder-ten-tronckh. One may easily imagine what must have been his surprise. The baron, who saw him, addressed him thus: “I did not tug long at the oar in the Turkish galleys; the Jesuits heard of my misfortune, and redeemed me for the honor of their society. I have made a journey into Germany, where I received some favors from my father’s heirs. I omitted nothing to find my sister; and having learned at Constantinople, that she had sailed from there in a vessel which was shipwrecked on the coasts of Denmark, I disguised myself, took letters of recommendation to Danish merchants, who have correspondence with the society, and, in fine, I found my sister, who still loves you, base and unworthy as you are of her regard; and since you have had the impudence to lie with her, I consent to the ratification of the marriage, or rather a new celebration of it, with this express proviso, that my sister shall give you only her left hand; which is very reasonable, since she has seventy-one quarters, and you have never a one.” “Alas!” said Candide, “all the quarters of the world without beauty — Miss Cunegund was very ugly when I had the imprudence to marry her; she afterwards became handsome again, and another has enjoyed her charms. She is once more grown ugly, and you would have me give her my hand a second time. No, upon my word, my reverend father, send her back to her seraglio at Constantinople; she has done me too much injury in this country.” “Ungrateful man,” screamed Cunegund, with the most frightful contortions; “be persuaded, and relent in time; do not provoke the baron, who is a priest, to kill us both, to wipe out his disgrace with our blood. Dost thou believe me capable of having failed in intention to the fidelity which I owed thee? What wouldst thou have had me do against a man who found me handsome? Neither my tears nor my cries could have softened his brutal insensibility. Seeing there was nothing to be done, I disposed myself in such a manner as to be violated with the least brutality possible, and every other woman would have done the same. This is all the crime I have committed, and does not merit thy displeasure. But I know my greatest crime with thee is having deprived thee of thy mistress; and yet this action ought to convince thee of my love. Come, my dear spouse, if ever I should again become handsome; if ever my breasts, now lank and withered, should recover their roundness and elasticity; if — it will be only for thee, my dear Candide. We are no longer in Turkey, and I swear faithfully to thee never to suffer any violation for the future.”

This discourse did not make much impression upon Candide; he desired a few hours to make his resolution how to proceed. The baron granted him two hours; during which time he consulted his friend Cacambo. After having weighed the reasons, pro and contra, they determined to follow the Jesuit and his sister into Germany. They accordingly left the hospital and set out together on their travels, not on foot, but on good horses hired by the baron. They arrived on the frontiers of the kingdom. A huge man, of a very villainous aspect, surveyed our hero with close attention. “It is the very man,” said he, casting his eyes at the same time upon a little bit of paper he had in his hand. “Sir, if I am not too inquisitive, is not your name Candide?” “Yes, sir, so I have always been called.” “Sir, I flatter myself you are the very same; you have black eyebrows, eyes level with your head, ears not prominent, of a middling size, and a round, flesh-colored visage; to me you plainly appear to be five feet five inches high.” “Yes, sir, that is my stature; but what have you to do with my ears and stature?” “Sir, we cannot use too much circumspection in our office. Permit me further to put one single question more to you: Have you not formerly been a servant to Lord Wolhall?” “Sir, upon my word,” answered Candide, quite disconcerted, “I know nothing of what you mean.” “Maybe so, sir, but I know for certain that you are the person whose description has been sent me. Take the trouble then to walk into the guard-house, if you please. Here, soldiers, take care of this gentleman; get the black hole ready, and let the armorer be sent for, to make him a pretty little set of fetters of about thirty or forty pounds weight. Mr. Candide, you have a good horse there; I am in want of such a one, and I fancy he will answer my purpose. I shall make free with him.”

The baron was afraid to say the horse was his. They carried off poor Candide, and Miss Cunegund wept for a whole quarter of an hour. The Jesuit seemed perfectly unconcerned at this accident. “I should have been obliged to have killed him, or to have made him marry you over again,” said he to his sister; “and all things considered, what has just happened is much the best for the honor of our family.” Cunegund departed with her brother, and only the faithful Cacambo remained, who would not forsake his friend.

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