FictionForest

Chapter 7 – How the Old Woman Took Care Of Candide, and How He Found the Object of His Love

VoltaireNov 03, 2016'Command+D' Bookmark this page

Light off Small Medium Large

Candide followed the old woman, though without taking courage, to
a decayed house, where she gave him a pot of pomatum to anoint his
sores, showed him a very neat bed, with a suit of clothes hanging by
it; and set victuals and drink before him.

“There,” said she, “eat, drink, and sleep, and may Our Lady of
Atocha, and the great St. Anthony of Padua, and the illustrious St.
James of Compostella, take you under their protection. I shall be back
tomorrow.”

Candide, struck with amazement at what he had seen, at what he had
suffered, and still more with the charity of the old woman, would have
shown his acknowledgment by kissing her hand.

“It is not my hand you ought to kiss,” said the old woman. “I
shall be back tomorrow. Anoint your back, eat, and take your rest.”

Candide, notwithstanding so many disasters, ate and slept. The
next morning, the old woman brought him his breakfast; examined his
back, and rubbed it herself with another ointment. She returned at the
proper time, and brought him his dinner; and at night, she visited him
again with his supper. The next day she observed the same ceremonies.

“Who are you?” said Candide to her. “Who has inspired you with so
much goodness? What return can I make you for this charitable
assistance?”

The good old beldame kept a profound silence. In the evening she
returned, but without his supper.

“Come along with me,” said she, “but do not speak a word.”

She took him by the arm, and walked with him about a quarter of a
mile into the country, till they came to a lonely house surrounded
with moats and gardens. The old conductress knocked at a little
door, which was immediately opened, and she showed him up a pair of
back stairs, into a small, but richly furnished apartment. There she
made him sit down on a brocaded sofa, shut the door upon him, and left
him. Candide thought himself in a trance; he looked upon his whole
life, hitherto, as a frightful dream, and the present moment as a very
agreeable one.

The old woman soon returned, supporting, with great difficulty, a
young lady, who appeared scarce able to stand. She was of a majestic
mien and stature, her dress was rich, and glittering with diamonds,
and her face was covered with a veil.

“Take off that veil,” said the old woman to Candide.

The young man approached, and, with a trembling hand, took off her
veil. What a happy moment! What surprise! He thought he beheld Miss
Cunegund; he did behold her -it was she herself. His strength failed
him, he could not utter a word, he fell at her feet. Cunegund
fainted upon the sofa. The old woman bedewed them with spirits; they
recovered-they began to speak. At first they could express
themselves only in broken accents; their questions and answers were
alternately interrupted with sighs, tears, and exclamations. The old
woman desired them to make less noise, and after this prudent
admonition left them together.

“Good heavens!” cried Candide, “is it you? Is it Miss Cunegund I
behold, and alive? Do I find you again in Portugal? then you have
not been ravished? they did not rip open your body, as the philosopher
Pangloss informed me?”

“Indeed but they did,” replied Miss Cunegund; “but these two
accidents do not always prove mortal.”

“But were your father and mother killed?”

“Alas!” answered she, “it is but too true!” and she wept.

“And your brother?”

“And my brother also.”

“And how came you into Portugal? And how did you know of my being
here? And by what strange adventure did you contrive to have me
brought into this house? And how-”

“I will tell you all,” replied the lady, “but first you must
acquaint me with all that has befallen you since the innocent kiss you
gave me, and the rude kicking you received in consequence of it.”

Candide, with the greatest submission, prepared to obey the commands
of his fair mistress; and though he was still filled with amazement,
though his voice was low and tremulous, though his back pained him,
yet he gave her a most ingenuous account of everything that had
befallen him, since the moment of their separation. Cunegund, with her
eyes uplifted to heaven, shed tears when he related the death of the
good Anabaptist, James, and of Pangloss; after which she thus
related her adventures to Candide, who lost not one syllable she
uttered, and seemed to devour her with his eyes all the time she was
speaking.

 

Leave a Reply