Chapter 7 Summary

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“How an old woman took care of Candide, and how he found again what he loved”

The old woman had told Candide to take courage, but he does not. He does, however, follow the woman to a small cottage. She gives him a jar of ointment to put on his wounds and brings him something to eat and drink before leading him to a small, clean bed. Next to the bed is a full set of clothing. The old woman tells Candide to eat, drink, and sleep; and then she prays a blessing over him and says she will return tomorrow. He is still in shock at what has happened to him, but is moved by the woman’s charity toward a stranger and tries to kiss her hand. She tells him it is not her hand he ought to kiss and repeats that she will see him tomorrow. Despite his grievous woes, Candide does eat and sleep.

The next day, the old woman brings him breakfast, examines his back, and rubs more ointment on it. She brings him both lunch and dinner, and she repeats the ritual the next day, as well. All the while, Candide asks the woman who she is, why she is helping him, and how he can repay her for her kindness. The woman remains silent. That evening she returns but does not bring him any dinner.

She takes his arm and tells him to come with her; he is not to speak. She leads him more than a quarter of a mile out of town until they arrive at a secluded house nestled in gardens and canals. The old woman knocks on the door and the door opens. Candide follows her up a secret staircase and into a gilded bedroom. The woman leaves him sitting on a sumptuous couch as she closes the door behind her. Candide thinks he must be dreaming because until now his life has been a terrible nightmare, but this moment is a happy one.

Soon the old woman returns. She is propping up a trembling woman: statuesque, shimmering with precious stones, and covered with a veil. The old woman tells Candide to remove the veil. The young man timidly lifts the veil and is stunned to see what he wishes most to see—Mademoiselle Cunégonde. He cannot speak and simply falls at her feet; Cunégonde falls to the sofa. The old woman revives them both and they are finally able to speak. There are fragments of questions and answers, tears, sighs, and cries. After suggesting that they not make so much noise, the old woman finally leaves them.

Candide asks if it is really her and wonders if everything Pangloss told him about her was untrue, that she was raped and her stomach cut open. Cunégonde tells him it is all true, but people do not always “die of such mishaps.” She weeps as she tells him her parents and brother are dead, though. Candide cannot imagine how she is here, in Portugal, and by what strange chance she managed to have him brought to her here. She promises to tell him everything after Candide tells her about everything that has happened to him, since he gave her an innocent kiss and the baron kicked him out of the castle.

Candide tells her everything he has endured since he left her, though his buttocks still sting a bit. Cunégonde weeps over the deaths of Jacques and Pangloss, and then she tells him her story. Candide devours her with his eyes as he listens to every word she speaks.

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Chapter 6 Summary


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