Fiction > Voltaire > Candide, or The Optimist
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François Marie Arouet de Voltaire (1694–1778).  Candide, or The Optimist.  1884.
 
Chapter XVI
What happened to our two Travellers with two Girls, two Monkeys, and the Savages called Oreillons
 
CANDIDE and his valet had already passed the frontiers before it was known that the German Jesuit was dead. The wary Cacambo had taken care to fill his wallet with bread, chocolate, some ham, some fruit, and a few bottles of wine. They penetrated with their Andalusian horses into a strange country, where they could discover no beaten path. At length, a beautiful meadow, intersected with purling rills, opened to their view. Cacambo proposed to his master to take some nourishment, and he set him an example. “How can you desire me to feast upon ham when I have killed the baron’s son, and am doomed never more to see the beautiful Cunegund? What will it avail me to prolong a wretched life that might be spent far from her in remorse and despair? And then what will the journal of Trevoux say?”  1
  While he was making these reflections he still continued eating. The sun was now on the point of setting when the ears of our two wanderers were assailed with cries which seemed to be uttered by a female voice. They could not tell whether these were cries of grief or joy; however, they instantly started up, full of that inquietude and apprehension which a strange place naturally inspires. The cries proceeded from two young women who were tripping stark naked along the mead, while two monkeys followed close at their heels, biting their backs. Candide was touched with compassion; he had learned to shoot while he was among the Bulgarians, and he could hit a filbert in a hedge without touching a leaf. Accordingly he takes up his double-barrel Spanish fusil, pulls the trigger, and lays the two monkeys lifeless on the ground. “God be praised, my dear Cacambo, I have rescued two poor girls from a most perilous situation. If I have committed a sin in killing an Inquisitor and a Jesuit, I have made ample amends by saving the lives of these two distressed damsels. Who knows but they may be young ladies of a good family, and that the assistance I have been so happy to give them may procure us great advantage in this country?”  2
  He was about to continue when he felt himself struck speechless at seeing the two girls embracing the dead bodies of the monkeys in the tenderest manner, bathing their wounds with their tears, and rending the air with the most doleful lamentations. “Really,” said he to Cacambo, “I should not have expected to see such a prodigious share of good-nature.” “Master,” replied the knowing valet, “you have made a precious piece of work of it: do you know that you have killed the lovers of these two ladies.” “Their lovers, Cacambo! You are jesting; it cannot be; I can never believe it.” “Dear sir,” replied Cacambo, “you are surprised at everything; why should you think it so strange that there should be a country where monkeys insinuate themselves into the good graces of the ladies? They are the fourth part of a man, as I am the fourth part of a Spaniard.” “Alas!” replied Candide, “I remember to have heard my master Pangloss say that such accidents as these frequently came to pass in former times; and that these commixtures are productive of centaurs, fauns, and satyrs; and that many of the ancients had seen such monsters; but I looked upon the whole as fabulous.” “Now you are convinced,” said Cacambo, “that it is very true; and you see what use is made of those creatures by persons who have not had a proper education. All I am afraid of is, that these same ladies may play us some ugly trick.”  3
  These judicious reflections operated so far on Candide as to make him quit the meadow and strike into a thicket. There he and Cacambo supped; and after heartily cursing the Grand Inquisitor, the Governor of Buenos Ayres, and the baron, they fell asleep on the ground. When they awoke, they were surprised to find that they could not move. The reason was, that the Oreillons, who inhabit that country, and to whom the ladies had given information of these two strangers, had bound them with cords made of the bark of trees. They saw themselves surrounded by fifty naked Oreillons, armed with bows and arrows, clubs, and hatchets of flint; some were making a fire under a large cauldron; and others were preparing spits, crying out one and all: “A Jesuit! a Jesuit! We shall be revenged; we shall have excellent cheer; let us eat this Jesuit; let us eat him up.”  4
  “I told you, master,” cried Cacambo mournfully, “that these two wenches would play us some scurvy trick.” Candide, seeing the cauldron and the spits, cried out, “I suppose they are going either to boil or roast us. Ah! what would Pangloss say if he was to see how pure nature is formed? Everything is right. It may be so; but I must confess it is something hard to be bereft of dear Miss Cunegund, and to be spitted like a rabbit by these barbarous Oreillons.” Cacambo, who never lost his presence of mind in distress, said to the disconsolate Candide: “Do not despair. I understand a little of the jargon of these people; I will speak to them.” “Ay, pray do,” said Candide; “and be sure you make them sensible of the horrid barbarity of boiling and roasting human creatures, and how little of Christianity there is in such practices.”  5
  “Gentlemen,” said Cacambo, “you think perhaps you are going to feast upon a Jesuit; if so, it is mighty well; nothing can be more agreeable to justice than thus to treat your enemies. Indeed, the law of nature teaches us to kill our neighbour; and accordingly we find this practised all over the world; and if we do not indulge ourselves in eating human flesh, it is because we have much better fare; but for your parts, who have not such resources as we, it is certainly much better judged to feast upon your enemies than to throw their bodies to the fowls of the air, and thus lose all the fruits of your victory.  6
  “But surely, gentlemen, you would not choose to eat your friends. You imagine you are going to roast a Jesuit, whereas my master is your friend, your defender, and you are going to spit the very man who has been destroying your enemies; as to myself, I am your countryman; this gentleman is my master, and so far from being a Jesuit, give me leave to tell you he has very lately killed one of that order, whose spoils he now wears, and which have probably occasioned your mistake. To convince you of the truth of what I say, take the habit he has now on, and carry it to the first barrier of the Jesuits’ kingdom, and inquire whether my master did not kill one of their officers. There will be little or no time lost by this, and you may still reserve our bodies in your power to feast on, if you should find what we have told you to be false; but, on the contrary, if you find it to be true, I am persuaded you are too well acquainted with the principles of the laws of society, humanity, and justice, not to use us courteously, and suffer us to depart unhurt.”  7
  This speech appeared very reasonable to the Oreillons. They deputed two of their people with all expedition to inquire into the truth of this affair, who acquitted themselves of their commission like men of sense, and soon returned with good tidings for our distressed adventurers. Upon this they were both loosed, and those who were so lately going to roast and boil them, now showed them all sorts of civilities, offered them friends, gave them refreshments, and reconducted them to the confines of their country, crying before them all the way, in token of joy, “He is no Jesuit, he is no Jesuit.”  8
  Candide could not help admiring the cause of his deliverance. “What men! what manners!” cried he; “if I had not fortunately run my sword up to the hilt in the body of Miss Cunegund’s brother, I should have infallibly been eaten alive. But, after all, pure nature is an excellent thing; since these people, instead of eating me, showed me a thousand civilities as soon as they knew I was not a Jesuit.”  9
 
 
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