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Voltaire: Arrival of Candide and his valet in the land of Eldorado, and what they saw there

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Eldorado

When they were at the borders of the Mumps:

“You see,” said Cacambo to Candide, “that this hemisphere is no better than the other; believe me, let us return to Europe by the shortest route.

How to return, said Candide; “and where to go? If I go to my country, the Bulgarians and the Abares are slaying all; if I return to Portugal, I am burnt; if we stay in this country, we risk being pinpointed at any time. But how can one resolve to leave the part of the world which Miss Cunegonde inhabits?

Let us turn to the Cayenne, said Cacambo; we shall find Frenchmen there who go everywhere; they can help us. May God have mercy on us.

It was not easy to go to the Cayenne; they knew very well on what side it was necessary to march; But mountains, rivers, precipices, brigands, savages, everywhere were terrible obstacles. Their horses died of fatigue; their provisions were consumed; they ate a whole month of wild fruit, and found themselves at last near a little river lined with coconut trees, which sustained their life and their hopes. Cacambo, who always gave as good advice as the old woman, said to Candide:

We can no more, we have gone enough; I see an empty canoe on the shore, fill it with cocoa, let us throw ourselves into this little boat, let us go and see it; a river always leads to some inhabited place. If we do not find pleasant things, we shall find at least new things.

“Let’s go, said Candide, let us recommend to Providence.

They sailed a few leagues between the banks, now flowered, sometimes arid, sometimes united, sometimes steep. The river was always widening; finally, it was lost under a vault of frightful rocks which rose to the sky. The two travelers had the boldness of abandoning themselves to the waves beneath this vault. The river confined in this place carried them with a rapidity and a horrible noise. At the end of twenty-four hours they saw the light of day; but their canoe shattered against the reefs; they had to drag themselves from rock to rock for a whole league; finally, they discovered an immense horizon, bordered by inaccessible mountains. The country was cultivated for pleasure as well as for necessity; everywhere the useful thing was pleasant: the roads were covered, or rather adorned with carriages of a form and a brilliant substance, bearing men and women of singular beauty, dragged rapidly by large red sheep that surpassed in speed the most beautiful horses of Andalusia, Tetuan, and Mequinine.

This, nevertheless, said Candide, is a country better than Vestphalia.

He dismounted with Cacambo near the first village he met. Some children of the village, covered with torn gold brocades, were playing at the entrance to the village; our two men of the other world amused themselves by looking at them. Their palets were of rather large circles, yellow, red, green, which cast a singular brilliancy. The travelers envied to pick up some of them; it was gold, it was emeralds and rubies, the least of which would have been the greatest ornament of the throne of the Mogul.

“No doubt,” said Cacambo, “these children are the sons of the king of the country who play at the little palet.

The magister of the village appeared at that moment to make them go back to school.

This, said Candide, is the preceptor of the royal family.

The little truants immediately quitted the game, leaving their palets on the ground, and all that had served their amusement. Candide picks them up, runs to the preceptor, and humbly presents them to him, making him understand by signs that their royal highnesses had forgotten their gold and jewels. The magister of the village, smiling, threw them on the ground, looked for a moment at the face of Candide with great surprise, and continued his way.

The travelers did not fail to collect gold, rubies, and emeralds.

Where are we? cried Candide. The children of the kings of this country must be well educated, since they are taught to despise gold and precious stones.

Cacambo was as surprised as Candide. At last they approached the first house of the village; it was built like a palace of Europe. A crowd of people was rushing to the door, and still more in the house; a very pleasant music was heard, and a delicious smell of cooking was felt. Cacambo approached the door, and heard that Peruvian was spoken; it was his mother tongue; because everyone knows that Cacambo was born in Tucuman, in a village where only this language was known.

I will serve you as an interpreter,” he said to Candide; “let’s go in, this is a cabaret.

Immediately two boys and two daughters of the inn, clad in cloth of gold, and their hair tied with ribbons, invited them to sit at the host’s table. Four soups were served, each with two parrots, a boiled outline weighing two hundred pounds, two roasted monkeys of excellent taste, three hundred hummingbirds in a dish, and six hundred birds-flies in another; exquisite stews, delicious pastries; all in dishes of a kind of rock crystal. The boys and girls of the inn poured several liqueurs made from sugar canes.

Most of the guests were merchants and couriers, all extremely polite, who made some inquiries to Cacambo with the most circumspect discretion, and who answered his own in a manner to satisfy him.

When the meal was over, Cacambo believed, as well as Candide, that he paid well, by throwing on the host’s table two of the large pieces of gold he had picked up; the host and hostess burst out laughing, and held their sides for a long time. At last they recovered.

“Gentlemen,” said the host, “we see that you are strangers; we are not accustomed to this. Forgive us if we laughed when you offered us the pebbles of our highways. You probably do not have the local currency, but you do not need to have dinner here. All hotels established for the convenience of commerce are paid for by the government. You have made bad luck here, because it is a poor village, but everywhere else you will be received as you deserve to be.

Cacambo explained to Candide all the speeches of the host, and Candide listened to them with the same admiration and the same bewilderment as his friend Cacambo rendered them. What then is this country, said they both, unknown to all the rest of the earth, and where all nature is of a species so different from ours? This is probably the country where everything is going well; for it is absolutely necessary that there should be one of this kind. And, whatever Pangloss said, I have often perceived that everything was going badly in Vestphalia.

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