Chapter 10 Summary

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“The distress in which Candide, Cunégonde, and the old woman arrive at Cádiz, and their embarkation”

Cunégonde is weeping, wondering who could have stolen her diamonds and money. Now they have nothing to live on, and she has no idea where she can find inquisitors or Jews who will give her more. The old woman suspects it was the Franciscan Father who was staying at the same inn as they did yesterday. She does not want to make a rash judgment against a man of God, but the holy man came into their room twice and left the inn long before they did.

Candide is sad, for Pangloss often proved that the material things of this world belong equally to all men; thus, every man has the same right to possess them. According to that principle, however, the Franciscan has as much right to their possessions as they do. Candide is only distraught because the man ought to have left them enough of their own goods to finish their journey. Now there is nothing at all left, not even a small copper.

As the young people bemoan their sorry state, the old woman suggests they sell one of the horses. She can ride sidesaddle, since she can only sit on one buttock, behind Cunégonde. A Benedictine prior who is staying at this inn buys the horse cheaply, and the three of them (on two horses) finally make their way to Cádiz.

When they arrive, troops are being assembled and a fleet is being equipped; the purpose of this military action is to “bring to reason” a reverend who is accused of inciting one of the tribes of Indians to revolt against the Kings of Spain and Portugal. Because Candide had experience in the military with the Bulgars, he is able to execute the Bulgar drills in front of the general with “such grace, speed, dexterity, pride, and agility” that he is named a captain and entrusted with his own infantry to command. Candide, Cunégonde, the old woman, two valets, and the two horses stolen from the Grand Inquisitor leave for battle.

As they travel, they consider Pangloss’s varied philosophies. Candide concludes that they are now traveling to another world; and it will be here, without question, that all will be well. They are forced to admit that the physical and moral things that are happening in this world can certainly give one cause for grumbling. Cunégonde vows that she loves Candide with all her heart, but she admits that her spirit is still shaken by everything she has seen and endured. Candide assures her that everything will be fine and that the sea of this new world is already better than any of the seas in Europe. It is calmer and more constant, and it is certain that this new world is the best of all possible worlds. Cunégonde is hopeful he is right, but she was so unhappy in this world that she is almost unwilling to hope for anything better.

The old woman tells the young couple that though they complain about their lives, they have in no way suffered as she has. Cunégonde barely refrains from bursting into laughter, imagining this old woman having a worse life than she. Cunégonde tells the old woman that unless she has been raped by two Bulgars, stabbed twice in the stomach, had two of her castles demolished, had two sets of parents butchered in front of her eyes, and saw two lovers whipped at an auto-de-fé, there is no possible way her life has been worse than Cunégonde’s. Not to mention her being born of nobility and finding herself as a lowly kept cook.

The old woman answers simply, saying that Cunégonde knows nothing about her pedigree and, if she were to reveal her rear end, Cunégonde would immediately retract her claim. Both Candide and Cunégonde are curious, so the old woman tells them her story. 

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