by: Voltaire

Chapters 17–19

Summary: Chapter 17

Cacambo and Candide continue to travel, but their horses die and their food runs out. They find an abandoned canoe and row down a river, hoping to find signs of civilization. After a day, their canoe smashes against some rocks.

Cacambo and Candide make their way to a village, where they find children playing with emeralds, rubies, and diamonds. When the village schoolmaster calls the children, they leave the jewels on the ground. Candide tries to give the jewels to the schoolmaster, but the schoolmaster merely throws them back to the ground.

Cacambo and Candide visit the village inn, which looks like a European palace. The people inside speak Cacambo’s native language. Cacambo and Candide eat a grand meal and try to pay for it with two large gold pieces they picked up off the ground. The landlord laughs at them for trying to give him “pebbles.” Moreover, the government maintains all inns for free. Candide believes that this is the place in the world where everything is for the best.

Summary: Chapter 18

Cacambo and Candide go to see the village sage, a 172-year-old man. The sage explains that his people have vowed never to leave their kingdom, which is called Eldorado. High mountains surround the kingdom, so no outsiders can get in, making Eldorado safe from European conquests. They also have a God whom they thank every day for giving them what they need. No religious persecution occurs because everyone agrees about everything.

Cacambo and Candide visit the king. They embrace him according to customs explained by one of his servants, and such familiarity and equality of address with a monarch shocks them. Candide asks to see the courts and prisons and learns there are none. Rather, there are schools devoted to the sciences and philosophy.

After a month, Candide decides that he cannot stay in Eldorado as long as Cunégonde is not there. He decides to take as many Eldorado “pebbles” with him as he can. The king considers the plan foolish, but sets his architects to work building a machine to lift Candide, Cacambo, and 102 swift sheep loaded down with jewels out of the deep valley. Candide hopes to pay Don Fernando for Cunégonde and buy a kingdom for himself.

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