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Voltaire: What became Candide among the Bulgarians

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Candide, expelled from the terrestrial paradise, walked for a long time, without knowing where, weeping, and raising his eyes to heaven, often turning them towards the most beautiful of the castles where lived the most beautiful baroness; he slept without supper in the middle of the fields between two furrows; the snow fell to a heavy flake. Candide, all pinched, dragged himself to the neighboring town called Valdberghoff-trarbk-dikdorff, having no money, dying of hunger and weariness. He stopped sadly at the door of a tavern. Two men dressed in blue noticed him:

“Mate,” said one, “there is a young man very well made, and of the required size”; they advanced towards Candide, and begged him very civilly to dine.

“Gentlemen,” said Candide, with charming modesty, “you do me a great honor, but I have nothing to pay for my share.”

“Sir,” said one of the men in blue to him,” the people of your appearance and merit never pay anything: don’t you have five feet five inches high?”

“Yes, gentlemen, it is my height,” he said, bowing.”

“Ah! Sir, sit down to the table; not only will we defray you, but we will never suffer that a man like you to lack money; men are made only to help each other.

“You are right,” said Candide; that is what Mr. Pangloss always told me, and I see that everything is at best.

He was asked to accept a few crowns, he took them, and wished to give them his note; they did not accept, and sit down to table.

“Don’t not love tenderly?”

-Oh! Yes,” he replied, “I tenderly love Miss Cunegonde.”

“No,” said one of these gentlemen, “we ask you if you do not love the King of the Bulgars tenderly.”

“Not at all,” he said, “for I have never seen him.”

“What?! He is the most charming of kings, and we have to drink for his health.”

“Oh! Very willingly, gentlemen.” And he drank.

“That is enough,” they said to him, “you are the base, the support, the defender, the hero of the Bulgarians; your fortune is made, and your glory is assured.”

They put him immediately the chains on the legs, and carried him away to the regiment. He was asked to turn to the right, to the left, to raise the baguette, to put back the baguette, to target, to shoot, to double the pace, and give him thirty stick blows; the next day he did the exercise a little less badly, and he received only twenty blows; the next day he was given only ten, and he was regarded by his comrades as a prodigy.

Candide, quite astounded, did not understand how he was a hero. He found himself on a fine spring day going for a walk, walking straight ahead of him, thinking that it was a privilege of the human species, as of the animal species, to use his legs at his pleasure . He had not gone two leagues distant, when four other heroes of six feet reaching him, binding him, leading him into a dungeon. He was asked legally what he liked best, to be thrown thirty-six times by the whole regiment, or to receive twelve balls of lead in his brain. In vain did he say that the wills were free, and that he did not want either, he had to make a choice; he decided, by virtue of the gift of God called liberty, to pass thirty-six times through the baguettes; He wiped two walks. The regiment was composed of two thousand men; that made for him four thousand blows of baguette, which, from the nape of the neck to the ass, discovered to him the muscles and the nerves. As they were about to proceed to the third walk, Candide, unable to do so, asked for mercy that they should be kind enough to break his head; he obtained this favor; they blindfold him; he was put on his knees.

The king of the Bulgarians passes at this moment, inquires about the crime of the patient; and as this king had a great genius, he understood, from all that he learned about Candide, that he was a young metaphysician, very ignorant of the things of this world, and he granted him his grace with a clemency which will be praised in all the newspapers and all the centuries. A brave surgeon cures Candide in three weeks with the emollients taught by Dioscorides. He already had a little skin and could walk, when the king of the Bulgarians fought in a battle against the king of the Abares.

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