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Voltaire: How Candide was forced to separate from the beautiful Cunegonde and the old woman

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Buenos Aires

The beautiful Cunegonde, having heard the story of the old woman, gave her all the politeness that was due to a person of her rank and merit. She accepted the proposal; she invited all the passengers, one after the other, to tell them of their adventures. Candide and she admitted that the old woman was right.

“It is a pity,” said Candide, “that the sage Pangloss was hanged against custom in a auto-da-fe; he would tell us admirable things about the physical evil and the moral evil which cover the land and the sea, and I would feel myself strong enough to dare respectfully to make some objections.”

As each man told his story, the ship advanced. They landed in Buenos Ayres. Cunegonde, Captain Candide, and the old woman, went to the house of Don Fernando d’Ibaraa, y Figueora, y Mascarenes, y Lampourdos, y Souza. This lord had a pride proper to a man who bore so many names. He spoke to the men with the most noble disdain, bearing his nose so high, raising his voice so pitilessly, assuming such an imposing tone, affecting so haughty a gait that all those who saluted him were tempted to beat him. He loved women in fury. Cunegonde seemed to him what he had ever seen the most beautiful. The first thing he did was to ask whether she was not the captain’s wife. The air with which he made this question alarmed Candide; he did not dare to say that she was his wife, because she was not; he did not dare to say that it was his sister, because she was not so; and although this unofficial lie had formerly been very fashionable among the ancients, and could be useful to the moderns, his soul was too pure to betray the truth.

“Miss Cunégonde,” he said, “ought to do me the honor of marrying me, and we beseech your Excellency to deign to make our wedding.”

Don Fernando d’Ibaraa, y Figueora, y Mascarenes, y Lampourdos, y Souza, raised his mustache, smiled bitterly, and ordered Captain Candide to go and review his company. Candide obeyed; the governor remained with Miss Cunegonde. He declared his passion to her, and protested that the next day he would marry her in the face of the Church, or otherwise, as he pleased with her charms. Cunegonde asked him for a quarter of an hour to recollect herself, to consult the old woman, and to decide.

The old woman said to Cunegonde:

“Miss, you have seventy-two quarters, and not a penny; it is up to you to be the wife of the greatest lord of South America, who has a very beautiful mustache; is it for you to prick yourself of a fidelity to any trial? You were raped by the Bulgarians; a Jew and an inquisitor have had your good graces: misfortunes give rights. I confess that, if I were in your place, I should not scruple to marry the Governor, and make the fortune of Captain Candide.

While the old woman spoke with all the prudence which age and experience afford, a small ship was seen entering the harbor; he carried an Alcalde and alguazils, and this was what had happened.

The old woman had very well guessed that it was a Franciscan with a large sleeve who stole money and jewels from Cunegonde in the town of Badajos, when she hurried away with Candide. This monk wanted to sell some of the jewels to a jeweler. The merchant recognized them for those of the grand inquisitor. The Franciscan, before being hanged, confessed that he had stolen them; he pointed out the persons, and the road they took. The flight of Cunegonde and Candide was already known. They were followed at Cadiz; they sent without delay a ship in pursuit of them. The ship was already in the port of Buenos Ayres. The rumor spread that an Alcalde was about to land, and that the murderers of Monseigneur the Grand Inquisitor were being pursued. The prudent old woman guessed in a moment all that was to be done.

“You can not escape,” she said to Cunegonde, “and you have nothing to fear; It is not you who have killed Monseigneur, and besides, the governor, who loves you, will not agree any ill-treatment of you; stay.

She runs to Candide at once:

“Flee,” she said, “or in an hour you will be burned.” There was not a moment to lose; but how to separate from Cunegonde, and where to take refuge?

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