Chapter 27 Summary
“Candide’s voyage to Constantinople”
Candide’s faithful valet has arranged for Candide and Martin to board the ship which is taking Sultan Ahmed back to Constantinople. The men prostrated themselves before “His miserable Highness” before embarking. On the way, Candide notes that he and Martin dined with six dethroned kings, and he was even able to give alms to one of them. He figures that there are many more noblemen who are even more unfortunate than he, for he has only lost a hundred sheep and now he is going to be reunited with his beloved Cunégonde. He tells Martin that, once again, Pangloss is right: all is for the best.
Martin is not particularly impressed with any of Candide’s reasoning and says that sitting in Venice with six dethroned kings is not more extraordinary than anything else which has happened to them. Kings are often dethroned, and eating with them was not much of an honor.
As soon as he steps aboard the ship, Candide throws his arms around Cacambo and asks him everything about Cunégonde. The valet tells him that Cunégonde is now working on the shores of the Propontis as a dishwasher for “a prince who has very few dishes.” She is a slave for a foreign sovereign named Rákóczi; even worse, she has lost her beauty and is now horribly ugly.
Candide is an honest man and sees it as his duty to love her forever. He wonders, though, how Cunégonde has been reduced to such a state when Cacambo had five or six million in his pockets. The valet explains he had to give a million to the governor of Buenos Aires to get permission to retrieve Cunégonde; then pirates stripped him of everything he had left. The pirates took them to Cape Mapatan, Milos, Icaria, Samos, Petra, the Dardenelles, Marmara, and Scutari. Now Cunégonde and the old woman are in the prince’s service, and Cacambo is the slave of a dethroned sultan.
Candide still has a few diamonds left and will undoubtedly be able to free Cunégonde easily. It is a pity that she has become so ugly, though. He asks Martin who should be pitied most: Emperor Ahmed, Emperor Ivan, King Charles Edward, or Candide. Martin says he cannot answer without examining each man’s heart. If Pangloss were here, says Candide, he would know and instruct them. Martin is unsure what scale or measure Pangloss would use to come to his conclusion, but he is certain there are millions of men who are more to be pitied than any of the men who had once been kings. Candide agrees to this logic.
After several days, the ship arrives in the Black Sea. The first thing Candide does is buy back his valet; the three men quickly board a galley ship to get to shore so they can begin to search for Cunégonde, no matter how ugly she has become. Among the galley convicts are two very poor rowers who were being whipped by the captain. Out of pity, Candide looks at them more closely; their disfigured faces bear a vague...
(The entire section is 812 words.)