7. An Old Women
Candide by Voltaire

How an old woman took care of Candide, and how he found the object he loved.

Candide did not take courage, but he followed the old woman to a ruinated house. She gave him a pot of pomatum to anoint himself, left him something to eat and drink, and showed him a very neat little bed, near which was a complete suit of clothes.

"Eat, drink, and sleep," said she to him, "and may God take care of you. I will be back tomorrow."

Candide, astonished at all he had seen, at all he had suffered, and still more at the charity of the old woman, offered to kiss her hand.

"You must not kiss my hand," said the old woman, "I will be back tomorrow. Rub yourself with the pomatum, eat and take rest."

Candide, notwithstanding so many misfortunes, ate, and went to sleep. Next morning, the old woman brought him his breakfast, looked at his back, and rubbed it herself with another ointment; she afterwards brought him his dinner; and she returned at night, and brought him his supper. The day following she performed the same ceremonies.

"Who are you?" would Candide always say to her. "Who has inspired you with so much goodness? What thanks can I render you?"

The good woman made no answer; she returned in the evening, but brought him no supper.

"Come along with me," said she, "and say not a word."

She took him by the arm, and walked with him into the country about a quarter of a mile; they arrived at a house that stood by itself; surrounded with gardens and canals. The old woman knocked at a little door, which being opened, she conducted Candide by a private stair-case into a gilded closet, and leaving him on a brocade couch, shut the door and went her way. Candide thought he was in a revery, and looked upon all his life as an unlucky dream, but at the present moment, a very agreeable vision.

The old woman returned very soon, supporting with difficulty a woman trembling, of a majestic port, glittering with jewels, and covered with a veil. "Take off that veil," said the old woman to Candide. The young man approached and took off the veil with a trembling hand. What joy! what surprise! he thought he saw Miss Cunegonde; he saw her indeed! It was she herself. His strength failed him, he could not utter a word, but fell down at her feet. Cunegonde fell upon the carpet. The old woman applied aromatic waters; they recovered their senses, and spoke to one another. At first, their words were broken, their questions and answers crossed each other, amidst sighs, tears and cries. The old woman recommended them to make less noise, and then left them to themselves.

"How! is it you?" said Candide, "are you still alive? do I find you again in Portugal? You were not ravished then, as the philosopher Pangloss assured me?"
"Yes, all this was so," said the lovely Cunegonde, "but death does not always follow from these two accidents."
"But your father and mother! were they not killed?"
"It is but too true," answered Cunegonde, weeping.
"And your brother?"
"My brother was killed too."
"And why are you in Portugal? And how did you know that I was here? and by what strange adventure did you contrive to bring me to this house?"
"I will tell you all that, presently," replied the lady, "but first you must inform me of all that has happened to you, since the harmless kiss you gave me, and the rude kicking which you received for it."

Candide obeyed her with the most profound respect; and though he was forbidden to speak, though his voice was weak and faltering, and though his back still pained him, yet he related to her, in the most artless manner, every thing that had befallen him since the moment of their separation. Cunegonde lifted up her eyes to heaven; she shed tears at the death of the good Anabaptist, and of Pangloss; after which she thus related her adventures to Candide, who lost not a word, but looked on her, as if he would devour her with his eyes.

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