24. Concerning Paquetta and Girofflee
From Candide by Voltaire (1759)

As soon as they arrived at Venice, he caused search for Cacambo in all the inns, in all the coffee-houses, and among all the girls of the town, but could not find him. He sent every day to all the ships and barks that arrived; but no news of Cacambo.

"Well," said he to Martin, "I have had time enough to go from Surinam to Bordeaux, from Bordeaux to Paris, from Paris to Dieppe, from Dieppe to Portsmouth; after that I have coasted along Portugal and Spain, and traversed the Mediterranean, and have now been some months at Venice, and yet, for all that, the lovely Cunegonde is not come. Instead of her, I have only met with a cheating hussy, and a treacherous man of Perigord. Cunegonde is certainly dead, and I have nothing to do but to die also. Ah! it would have been far better for me to have stayed in that paradise, Dorado, than to have returned again to this cursed Europe. You are certainly right, my dear Martin, all is illusion and misery here."

He fell into a deep melancholy, and never frequented the opera, or the other diversions of the carnival; nay, he was proof against all the charms of the fair sex. Martin said to him,

"You are very simple indeed, to fancy that a mongrel valet, with five or six millions in his pocket, would go to the end of the world in quest of your mistress, and bring her to Venice. If he meets with her, he'll keep her for himself; if he cannot find her, he'll get somebody else. Let me advise you to forget both your valet Cacambo and your mistress Cunegonde."

Martin was a most wretched comforter. The melancholy of Candide increased; and Martin never ceased preaching that there was but very little virtue, and as little happiness, to be found on earth, excepting, perhaps, at Eldorado, where it was almost impossible for any one to go.

Whilst they were disputing on this important subject, and waiting for Cunegonde, Candide perceived a young guard in the Place St. Mark, with his arm around a young girl. He looked fresh, plump, and full of vigour; his eyes were sparkling, his air bold, his mien lofty, and his gait firm. This girl was tolerably handsome, and was singing a song; she ogled her companion with a great deal of passion, and now and then would give his fat cheeks a pinch.

"At least, you will grant me," said Candide to Martin, "that these two folks are happy. I have never found any but unhappy wretches till now, all over this habitable globe, excepting at Eldorado; but as for the girl and the guard, I will lay any wager that they are as happy as happy can be."
"I will lay a wager that they are not," said Martin.
"Let us invite them to dinner," said Candide, "then we shall see whether I am mistaken or not."

He immediately accosted them, made them a bow, and invited them to his inn to eat macaroni, partridges of Lombardy, and caviare, and to drink montepulciano, Cyprus and Samos wine. The girl blushed; the guard accepted the invitation, and the girl followed him, looking at Candide with surprise and confusion, whilst the tears trickled down her cheeks. Scarce had she entered into Candide's room, when she said to him,

"What! does not Mr. Candide know his old friend Paquetta again?"

At these words, Candide, who had not yet looked at her with any degree of attention, because Cunegonde engrossed all his thoughts, said to her,

"Ah! my poor girl, is it you? you, who reduced Dr. Pangloss to the dreadful plight in which I saw him?"
"Ah, Sir! 'tis I myself," said Paquetta, "I find you know the whole story; and I have been informed of all the terrible disasters which have happened to the family of my Lady the Baroness, and the fair Cunegonde. My fate, assure you, has not been less melancholy. I was very innocent when you knew me. A cavalier easily seduced me. The effects of it were terrible. I was obliged to leave the castle some time after the Baron kicked and thrust you out of the door. If a celebrated quack had not taken pity on me, I should have perished. I was the quack's mistress for some time by way of recompense. His wife, who was as jealous as the devil, beat me every day, most unmercifully; she was a very fiend of hell. The doctor was one of the ugliest fellows I ever saw in my life, and I one of the most wretched creatures that ever existed, to be beat every day for the sake of a man whom I hated. You know how dangerous it is for a jealous woman to be married to a doctor. Being quite exasperated with his wife's behaviour, he gave her one day so efficacious a remedy to cure her of a slight cold she had, that she died two hours after in the most horrid convulsions. My mistress's relations entered a criminal action against my master; he took to his heels and I was carried to jail. My innocence would never have saved me, if I had not been so handsome. The Judge acquitted me, on condition of his succeeding the doctor. I was soon afterwards supplanted by a rival, driven out of doors without any recompense, and obliged to continue this abominable occupation, which appears so pleasant to you men, while it is to us women the very abyss of misery. I am come to practice my profession at Venice. Ah, Sir, if you could imagine what it is to be obliged to caress indifferently, an old merchant, a counsellor, a gondolier; to be exposed to all sorts of insults and outrages; to be often reduced to borrow a petticoat, to have it rudely pulled up by a disagreeable rascal; to be robbed by one gallant of what one has got from another; to be fleeced by the officers of justice, and to have nothing in prospect but a frightful old age, a hospital, and a dunghill for a sepulchre, you would confess that I am one of the most unfortunate creatures in the world."

Paquetta opened her mind in this manner to the good Candide, in his closet, in the presence of Martin; who said to Candide,

"You see I have won half the wager already."

Girofflee waited in the dining-room, and drank a glass or two while he was waiting for dinner.

"But," said Candide, to Paquetta, "you had an air so gay, so content, when I first met you, you sung, and caressed the guard with so much warmth, that you seemed to be as happy then as you pretend to be miserable now."
"Ah, Sir," replied Paquetta, "this is one of the miseries of the trade. Yesterday, I was robbed and beaten by an officer, and today I am obliged to appear in good humour to please a guard."

Candide wanted no more, to be satisfied, and he owned that Martin was in the right. They sat down to table with Paquetta and the soldier; the repast was very entertaining, and towards the end they began to speak to each other with some degree of confidence.

"My man," said Candide to the guard, , "you seem to enjoy a state that all the world might look on with envy. The flower of health blossoms on your countenance, and your physiognomy speaks nothing but happiness; you have a very pretty girl to divert you, and you seem to be well satisfied with your station as a guard."
"Faith, Sir," said Girofllee, "I wish that all the guards were at the bottom of the sea. I have been tempted an hundred times to set fire to the camp, and go and turn Turk. My parents forced me, at the age of fifteen, to put on this cursed uniform, to increase the fortune of an elder brother of mine, whom God confound. Jealousy, discord, and fury reside there. It is true, indeed, I have brought me in a little money; one part of which the commander robbed me of, and the rest serves me to spend with the girls; but every evening, when I enter the camp, I am ready to dash out my brains against the walls; and all the rest are in the same case."

Martin turned towards Candide, with his usual coolness,

"Well," said he to him, "have not I won the whole wager now?"

Candide gave two thousand piastres to Paquetta, and one thousand to Girofllee.

"I'll answer for it," said he, "this will make them happy."
"I don't believe a word of it," said Martin, "you may perhaps make them a great deal more miserable by your piastres."
"Be that as it may," said Candide, "but one thing comforts me, I see that one oftens finds those persons whom one never expected to find any more; and as I have found my red sheep and Paquetta again, it may be I may find Cunegonde again too."
"I wish," said Martin, "that she may one day make you happy; but it is what I very much question."
"You are very incredulous," said Candide.
"That is what I always was," said Martin.
"But only look on these gondoliers," said Candide, "are they not perpetually singing?"
"You don't see them at home with their wives, and their monkeys of children," said Martin. "The Doge has his inquietudes, and the gondoliers have theirs. Indeed, generally speaking, the condition of a gondolier is preferable to that of a doge; but I believe that the difference is so small, that it is not worth the trouble of examining into."
"People speak," said Candide, "of Seignior Pococurante, who lives in that fine palace upon the Brenta, and who entertains strangers in the most polite manner. They pretend that this man never felt any uneasiness."
"I should be glad to see so extraordinary a phenomenon," said Martin.

On which Candide instantly sent to Seignior Pococurante, to get permission to pay him a visit the next day.

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