“Faith, comrade,” said one of them to the other, “yonder is a well-made young fellow and of the right size.” Upon which they made up to Candide and with the greatest civility and politeness invited him to dine with them.
“Gentlemen,” replied Candide, with a most engaging modesty, “you do me much honor, but upon my word I have no money.”
“Money, sir!” said one of the blues to him, “young persons of your appearance and merit never pay anything; why, are not you five feet five inches high?”
“Yes, gentlemen, that is really my size,” replied he, with a low bow.
“Come then, sir, sit down along with us; we will not only pay your reckoning, but will never suffer such a clever young fellow as you to want money. Men were born to assist one another.”
“You are perfectly right, gentlemen,” said Candide, “this is precisely the doctrine of Master Pangloss; and I am convinced that everything is for the best.”
His generous companions next entreated him to accept of a few crowns, which he readily complied with, at the same time offering them his note for the payment, which they refused, and sat down to table.
“Have you not a great affection for-“
“O yes! I have a great affection for the lovely Miss Cunegund.”
“Maybe so,” replied one of the blues, “but that is not the question! We ask you whether you have not a great affection for the King of the Bulgarians?”
“For the King of the Bulgarians?” said Candide. “Oh, Lord! not at all, why I never saw him in my life.”
“Is it possible? Oh, he is a most charming king! Come, we must drink his health.”
“With all my heart, gentlemen,” said Candide, and off he tossed his glass.
“Bravo!” cried the blues; “you are now the support, the defender, the hero of the Bulgarians; your fortune is made; you are in the high road to glory.”
So saying, they handcuffed him, and carried him away to the regiment. There he was made to wheel about to the right, to the left, to draw his rammer, to return his rammer, to present, to fire, to march, and they gave him thirty blows with a cane; the next day he performed his exercise a little better, and they gave him but twenty; the day following he came off with ten, and was looked upon as a young fellow of surprising genius by all his comrades.
Candide was struck with amazement, and could not for the soul of him conceive how he came to be a hero. One fine spring morning, he took it into his head to take a walk, and he marched straight forward, conceiving it to be a privilege of the human species, as well as of the brute creation, to make use of their legs how and when they pleased. He had not gone above two leagues when he was overtaken by four other heroes, six feet high, who bound him neck and heels, and carried him to a dungeon. A courtmartial sat upon him, and he was asked which he liked better, to run the gauntlet six and thirty times through the whole regiment, or to have his brains blown out with a dozen musket-balls?
In vain did he remonstrate to them that the human will is free, and that he chose neither; they obliged him to make a choice, and he determined, in virtue of that divine gift called free will, to run the gauntlet six and thirty times.
He had gone through his discipline twice, and the regiment being composed of 2,000 men, they composed for him exactly 4,000 strokes, which laid bare all his muscles and nerves from the nape of his neck to his stern. As they were preparing to make him set out the third time our young hero, unable to support it any longer, begged as a favor that they would be so obliging as to shoot him through the head; the favor being granted, a bandage was tied over his eyes, and he was made to kneel down.
At that very instant, His Bulgarian Majesty happening to pass by made a stop, and inquired into the delinquent’s crime, and being a prince of great penetration, he found, from what he heard of Candide, that he was a young metaphysician, entirely ignorant of the world; and therefore, out of his great clemency, he condescended to pardon him, for which his name will be celebrated in every journal, and in every age. A skillful surgeon made a cure of the flagellated Candide in three weeks by means of emollient unguents prescribed by Dioscorides. His sores were now skimmed over and he was able to march, when the King of the Bulgarians gave battle to the King of the Abares.