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Voltaire: How an old woman took care of Candide, and how he found what he loved

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Candide did not take courage at all, but he followed the old woman into a hovel: she gave him a pot of pomade to rub himself, left him to eat and drink; she showed him a rather clean little bed; there was a full coat beside the bed.

Eat, drink, sleep,” she said, “and let Notre-Dame d’Atocha [On Notre-Dame d’Atocha, see in the Mixtures, year 1769, one of Voltaire’s notes on his Excerpt from a newspaper (or Memoirs of Dangeau)], Monsignor St. Anthony of Padua, and Monseigneur St. James of Santiago take care of you! I will come back tomorrow.

Candide, always amazed at everything he had seen, all that he had suffered, and still more of the old woman’s charity, wanted to kiss her hand.

It is not my hand that must be kissed,” said the old woman; I will come back tomorrow. Rub with ointment, eat and sleep.

Candide, despite so many misfortunes, ate and slept. The next day the old woman brings him the breakfast, takes a look at his back, rubs him herself with another ointment: she then brings him the dinner: she comes back in the evening and brings him supper. Two days later she performed the same ceremonies.

Who are you? Candide always asked her; Who inspired you with such kindness? What graces can I give you?

The good woman never answered anything. She returned in the evening, and did not bring supper.

“Come with me,” she said, “and do not say a word.”

She takes him under his arm, and walks with him in the country about a quarter of a mile. They arrive at an isolated house, surrounded by gardens and canals. The old woman knocks at a small door. It opens; she leads Candide by a secret staircase into a gilded cupboard, leaves him on a brocade couch, closes the door, and goes away. Candide thought he was dreaming, and regarded all his life as a fatal dream, and the present moment as a pleasant dream.

The old woman reappeared soon; she supported with difficulty a trembling woman, of majestic size, shining with gems, and covered with a veil.

Take off this veil, said the old woman to Candide.

The young man approaches; he raises the veil with a timid hand. What moment! What a surprise! He thought he saw Mademoiselle Cunegonde; he saw her indeed, it was herself. He lacks strength, he can‘t utter a word, falls at her feet. Cunegonde falls on the sofa. The old woman overwhelms them with spiritful waters, they resume their senses, they speak to each other: they are at first interrupted words, crossing requests and answers, sighs, tears, cries. The old woman recommends them to make less noise, and leaves them at liberty.

What! It is you,” said Candide, “you live! I find you in Portugal! So you were not raped? They have not split your stomach, as the philosopher Pangloss had assured me of it?”

Yes,” said the beautiful Cunegonde; “but not always die of these two accidents.

But have your father and your mother been killed?

“It is all too true, said Cunegonde, weeping.

And your brother?

My brother was also killed.

And why are you in Portugal? And how did you know that I was there? And by what strange adventure have you led me to this house?”

“I will tell you all that,” replied the lady; But you must first tell me all that has happened to you since the innocent kiss you gave me, and the kicks you received.
Candide obeyed him with profound respect; And although he was forbidden, though his voice was weak and trembling, though his back was still a little ill, he told him in the most naive manner all that he had experienced since the moment of their separation. Cunegonde raised her eyes to heaven; she gave tears to the death of the good Anabaptist and Pangloss; After which she spoke thus to Candide, who did not lose a word, and devoured her with her eyes.

— Et pourquoi êtes-vous en Portugal? et comment avez-vous su que j’y étais? et par quelle étrange aventure m’avez-vous fait conduire dans cette maison?

— Je vous dirai tout cela, répliqua la dame; mais il faut auparavant que vous m’appreniez tout ce qui vous est arrivé depuis le baiser innocent que vous me donnâtes, et les coups de pied que vous reçûtes.

Candide lui obéit avec un profond respect; et quoiqu’il fût interdit, quoique sa voix fût faible et tremblante, quoique l’échine lui fît encore un peu mal, il lui raconta de la manière la plus naïve tout ce qu’il avait éprouvé depuis le moment de leur séparation. Cunégonde levait les yeux au ciel: elle donna des larmes à la mort du bon anabaptiste et de Pangloss; après quoi elle parla en ces termes à Candide, qui ne perdait pas une parole, et qui la dévorait des yeux.

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