One evening Candide, followed by Martin, was about to sit down to the table with the strangers who were staying in the same inn, and a man with a face of sooty color approached him from behind, and taking him by the arm, said to him:
“Be ready to go with us, do not miss it.“
He turns around, and sees Cacambo. Only the sight of Cunegonde could astonish him, and please him more. He was on the point of becoming mad with joy. He embraces his dear friend.
“Cunegonde is here, no doubt? Where is she? Lead me to her, that I die of joy with her.“
“Cunégonde is not here,” said Cacambo, “she is at Constantinople.”
“Ah, Heaven! To Constantinople! But even to China, I will fly there, let us go.“
“We shall go away after supper,” resumed Cacambo; “I can not tell you more; I am a slave, my master is waiting for me; I must go and serve him at the table: do not say a word, supper, and stand ready.“
Candide, split between joy and grief, charmed at having seen his faithful agent again, astonished at seeing him a slave, full of the idea of finding his mistress, his heart agitated, his mind overwhelmed, sat down to table with Martin, who looked with cold blood all these adventures, and with six strangers who had come to pass the carnival at Venice.
Cacambo, who poured a drink to one of these six strangers, approached his master’s ear at the end of the meal, and said to him:
“Sir, your majesty will depart whenever he pleases, the ship is ready.” Having said these words, he went out.
The guests, astonished, looked at each other without uttering a single word, when another servant, approaching his master, said to him:
“Sir, your majesty’s chair is at Padua, and the boat is ready.”
The master made a sign, and the servant set out. All the guests looked at each other again, and the common surprise increased. A third valet, also approaching a third stranger, said to him:
“Sir, believe me, your majesty must not stay here any longer; I will prepare everything;“ and immediately he disappeared.
Candide and Martin did not doubt then that it was a masquerade of the carnival. A fourth servant said to the fourth master:
“Your majesty will leave whenever he pleases,“ and go out like the others. The fifth valet says the same to the fifth master. But the sixth valet spoke differently to the sixth stranger who was near Candide; he said to him,
“Well, Sir, they do not longer want to give credit either to your majesty or to me, and we may well be locked up this night, both you and me; I will take care of my business: good bye.“
All the servants having disappeared, the six strangers, Candide, and Martin, remained in profound silence. At last Candide broke it:
“Gentlemen,” he said, “here is a singular jest. Why are you all kings? For my part, I confess that neither I nor Martin are.“
The master of Cacambo then spoke gravely, and said in Italian:
“I am not pleasant, my name is Achmet III (Achmet III had been dethroned in 1730; he died in 1736]; I have been Grand Sultan for several years; I dethroned my brother; my nephew dethroned me; he cut the neck to my viziers. I finish my life in the old seraglio; my nephew, the Grand Sultan Mahmoud, allows me to travel sometimes for my health; and I came to enjoy the carnival in Venice.“
A young man who was with Achmet spoke after him, and said:
“My name is Ivan [Ivan, born in 1730, dethroned in the same year, imprisoned, and finally stabbed in 1762]; I was emperor of all the Russias; I was dethroned in the cradle; my father and my mother were locked up; they have raised me to prison; I have sometimes permission to travel, accompanied by those who guard me; and I came to enjoy the carnival in Venice.“
The third says:
“I am Charles Edward, King of England; my father gave me his rights to the kingdom; I fought to support them; it was pulled out the heart of eight hundred of my partisans, and they were beaten; I was put in prison; I go to Rome to pay a visit to the king my father, dethroned as well as me and my grandfather; and I came to enjoy the carnival in Venice.“
The fourth spoke, and said:
“I am king of the Poles; the fate of war deprived me of my hereditary states (Augustus, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, driven from his hereditary states during the war of 1756, took refuge in Poland]; my father has experienced the same reverses; I resign myself to Providence as Sultan Achmet, the Emperor Ivan, and King Charles Edward, to whom God gives a long life; and I came to enjoy the carnival in Venice.“
The fifth said:
“I am also king of the Poles [Stanislas Leczinski, father-in-law of Louis XV]; I have lost my kingdom twice; but Providence has given me another state in which I have done more good than all the kings of the Sarmatians together have ever been able to do on the banks of the Vistula. I resign myself also to Providence; and I came to enjoy the carnival in Venice.“
He remained to the sixth monarch to speak:
“Gentlemen,” he said, “I am not so great a lord as you; but at last I was king like any other; I am Theodore [On the Kingdom of Corsica, Theodore, died December 2, 1756]; I was elected king in Corsica; they have called me Your Majesty, and now I am scarcely calling me Mister; I have made a coin, and I have not a penny; I had two secretaries of state, and I scarcely have a valet; I have seen myself on a throne, and I have long been in prison in London on the straw; I am very much afraid of being treated like this here, although I have come, like your majesties, to enjoy the carnival at Venice.“
The five other kings listened to this discourse with noble compassion. Each of them gave twenty sequins to King Theodore for clothes and shirts; Candide presented him with a diamond of two thousand sequins.
“So, who is,” said the five kings, “this man who is able to give a hundred times as much as each of us, and who gives it? Are you king also, sir?”
“No, gentlemen, and I have no desire to be.”
As soon as they had left the table, arrived at the same inn four serene highnesses who had also lost their dominions by the fate of the war, and who came to enjoy the rest of the carnival at Venice; but Candide did not pay attention to these newcomers. He was occupied only in going to his dear Cunegonde at Constantinople.