Chapter 26 Summary
“Of a dinner that Candide and Martin had with six strangers, and who they were”
One evening, Candide and Martin sit down to a meal with strangers staying at their inn. Suddenly a man with soot-colored skin approaches Candide from behind and grabs his arms, telling him to be ready to “leave with them,” without fail. Candide turns around and is ecstatic to see Cacambo. He embraces his old friend and asks to take him to Cunégonde immediately. Cacambo tells him Cunégonde is not here; she is in Constantinople.
That does not dampen Candide’s joy, and he asks Cacambo to take him to his beloved immediately. His former valet says they can leave after dinner but he cannot say anything more. Cacambo is now a slave and his master is waiting for Cacambo to serve him his dinner. He warns Candide not to say anything about this; he is to eat his meal and be prepared to depart.
Candide is torn between delight and grief. He is thrilled to see his “faithful emissary” again but astonished that Cacambo is now a slave. He is in utter turmoil at the thought of finding Cunégonde again. He finally settles down to eat with Martin, who remains coolly composed, and six visitors who have come to Venice for Carnival.
Cacambo pours wine for one of the foreigners and leans down as the meal is ending and says, “Sire, Your Majesty may leave at will, the ship is ready.” Cacambo then exits leaving the rest of the diners astonished. They are still silent when another servant approaches his master and tell him His Majesty’s carriage is waiting in Padua and his ship is ready. The servant leaves and the diners are even more surprised. A third servant approaches a third foreign diner and says His Majesty must not remain here any longer and everything will be prepared for his departure.
Candide and Martin are convinced this is some kind of a Carnival masquerade, but then a fourth and fifth servant bring similar messages to their masters. The sixth valet, however, brings a different message. He tells his master that no one will allow them any more credit and both of them might be thrown in prison tonight. The servant tells his master farewell and leaves.
All the servants have disappeared, and the men sit in silence. Candide finally speaks, assuring the others that he and Martin are not kings and wondering how it is that all of them are . Cacambo’s master answers gravely in Italian. He is Ahmed III, formerly the Grand Sultan. He dethroned his brother and was dethroned by his nephew, and he has come to Venice for Carnival. The man next to him is Ivan, once Emperor of “all the Russias.” He was dethroned in his cradle, as his parents were imprisoned and he was raised there with them. Occasionally he is allowed to travel, with guards, and he too has come to Venice...
(The entire section is 784 words.)