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AWhat murmuring and complaining is here [email protected] cried the old woman. AIf you had suffered half what I have, there might be some reason for [email protected]

Cunégonde could scarce refrain from laughing at the good old woman, and thought it droll enough to pretend to a greater share of misfortunes than her own.

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AWhat murmuring and complaining is here [email protected] cried the old woman. AIf you had suffered half what I have, there might be some reason for [email protected]
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AAlas! my dear madam,@ said she, Aunless you had been raped by two Bulgarians, received two deep wounds in your belly, seen two of your own castles demolished, lost two fathers and two mothers, seen both of them barbarously murdered before your eyes, and had two lovers whipped at an auto-da-fé, I cannot see how you could be more unfortunate than I. Add to this, though born a baroness and bearing seventy-two quarterings, I have been reduced to the station of a [email protected]

AMiss,@ replied the old woman, Ayou do not know my family as yet; but if I were to show you my behind, you would not talk in this manner but suspend your [email protected] This speech raised a high curiosity in Candide and Cunégonde; and the old woman continued as follows.

Chapter 11 – The History of the Old Woman

I have not always been blear-eyed. My nose did not always touch my chin; nor was I always a servant. You must know that I am the daughter of Pope Urban X and of the Princess of Palestrina. Until the age of fourteen I was brought up in a castle, compared with which all the castles of the German barons would not have been fit for stabling, and one of my robes would have bought half the province of Westphalia. I grew up, and improved in beauty, wit, and every graceful accomplishment; and in the midst of pleasures, homage, and the highest expectations. I already began to inspire men with love. My breasts began to take form, and what breasts! white, firm, and shaped like the boobs of the Venus de Medici; my eyebrows were as black as jet, and as for my eyes, they darted flames and eclipsed the luster of the stars, as I was told by the poets of our part of the world. My maids, when they dressed and undressed me, used to fall into an ecstasy in viewing me before and behind; and all the men longed to be in their places.

AI was contracted in marriage to a sovereign prince of Massa Carrara. Such a prince! as handsome as myself, sweet-tempered, agreeable, witty, and head over heels in love with me. I loved him, too, as our sex generally love for the first time, with rapture, transport, and idolatry. The nuptials were prepared with pomp and magnificence; the ceremony was attended with feasts, carousals, and burlesques: all Italy composed sonnets in my praise, though not one of them was tolerable. I was on the point of reaching the summit of bliss, when an old marquise, who had been mistress to the Prince, my husband, invited him to drink chocolate. In less than two hours after he returned from the visit, he died of most terrible convulsions. But this is a mere trifle. My mother, distracted to the highest degree, and yet less afflicted than I, determined to absent herself for some time from so fatal a place. As she had a very fine estate in the neighborhood of Gaeta, we embarked on board a galley, which was gilded like the high altar of St. Peter’s, at Rome. In our passage we were boarded by a Moroccan rover. Our men defended themselves like true soldiers of the Pope; they flung themselves upon their knees, laid down their arms, and begged the corsair to give them absolution at the point of death. The Moors soon stripped us as bare as we were born. My mother, my maids of honor, and myself, were served all in the same manner. It is amazing how quick these gentry are at undressing people. But what surprised me most was, that they made a rude sort of surgical examination of parts of the body which are sacred to the functions of nature. I thought it a very strange kind of ceremony; for thus we are generally apt to judge of things when we have not seen the world. I afterwards learned that it was to discover if we had any diamonds concealed. This practice had been established since time immemorial among those civilized nations that scour the seas. I was informed that the religious Knights of Malta never fail to make this search whenever any Moors of either sex fall into their hands. It is a part of the law of nations, from which they never deviate.

AI need not tell you how great a hardship it was for a young princess and her mother to be made slaves and carried to Morocco. You may easily imagine what we must have suffered on board a corsair. My mother was still extremely handsome, our maids of honor, and even our common waiting-women, had more charms than were to be found in all Africa. As to myself, I was enchanting; I was beauty itself, and then I had my virginity. But, alas! I did not retain it long; this precious flower, which was to have been reserved for the beautiful Prince of Massa Carrara, was cropped by the captain of the Moorish vessel, a hideous black man who thought he was doing me a great favor. Indeed, both the Princess of Palestrina and myself must have had very strong constitutions to undergo all the hardships and violences we suffered before our arrival at Morocco. But I will not detain you any longer with such common things; they are hardly worth mentioning.

AUpon our arrival at Morocco we found that kingdom deluged with blood. Fifty sons of the Emperor Muley Ishmael were each at the head of a party. This produced fifty civil wars of blacks against blacks, of browns against browns, of mulattoes against mulattoes and of all the permutations in between. In short, the whole empire was one continued scene of carnage. No sooner were we landed than a party of blacks, of a faction opposed to that of my captain, came to rob him of his booty. Next to the money and jewels, we were the most valuable things he had. I witnessed on this occasion such a battle as you never beheld in your cold European climates. The northern nations have not that fermentation in their blood nor that raging lust for women that is so common in Africa. The natives of Europe seem to have their veins filled with milk only; but fire and vitriol circulate in those of the inhabitants of Mount Atlas and the neighboring provinces. They fought with the fury of the lions, tigers, and serpents of their country to decide who should have us. A Moor seized my mother by the right arm, while my captain’s lieutenant held her by the left; another Moor laid hold of her by the right leg, and one of our corsairs held her by the other.

In this manner almost all of our women were dragged by four soldiers.

AMy captain kept me behind him and with his drawn scimitar cut down everyone who opposed him; at length I saw all our Italian women and my mother mangled and torn in pieces by the monsters who contended for them. The captives, my companions, the Moors who took us, the soldiers, the sailors, the blacks, the whites, the mulattoes, and lastly, my captain himself, were all slain, and I remained alone expiring upon a heap of dead bodies. Similar barbarous scenes were transacted every day over the whole country, which is of three hundred leagues in extent, and yet they never missed the five stated times of prayer enjoined by their prophet Mahomet. I disengaged myself with great difficulty from the heap of corpses and managed to crawl to a large orange tree that stood on the bank of a neighboring rivulet, where I fell down exhausted with fatigue and overwhelmed with horror, despair, and hunger. My senses being overpowered, I fell asleep, or rather in a trance. Thus I lay in a state of weakness and insensibility between life and death, when I felt myself pressed by something that moved up and down upon my body.

Chapter 12 – The Adventures of the Old Woman Continued

This brought me to myself. I opened my eyes, and saw a pretty fair-faced man, who sighed and muttered these words between his teeth, O che sciagura d’essere senza coglioni![footnoteRef:15]@ Astonished and delighted to hear my native language, and no less surprised at the young man’s words, I told him that there were far greater misfortunes in the world than what he complained of. And to convince him of it, I gave him a short history of the horrible disasters that had befallen me; and as soon as I had finished, fell into a swoon again. He carried me in his arms to a neighboring cottage, where he had me put to bed, procured me something to eat, waited on me with the greatest attention, comforted me, caressed me, told me that he had never seen anything so perfectly beautiful as myself, and that he had never so much regretted the loss of what no one could restore to him. >I was born at Naples,= said he, >where they make eunuchs of thousands of children every year; some die of the operation; some acquire voices far beyond the most tuneful of your ladies; and others are sent to govern states and empires. I underwent this operation very successfully, and was one of the singers in the Princess of Palestrina’s chapel.= >But,= cried I, >that is my mother’s chapel!= >The Princess of Palestrina, your mother!= cried he, bursting into a flood of tears. >Is it possible you should be the beautiful young princess whom I had the care of bringing up till she was six years old, and who at that tender age promised to be as fair as I now behold you?= >I am the same,= I replied. >My mother lies about a hundred yards from here cut in pieces and buried under a heap of dead bodies.= [15: What a misfortune to lose one=s testicles! ]

AI then related to him all that had befallen me, and he in return acquainted me with all his adventures, and how he had been sent to the court of the King of Morocco by a Christian prince to conclude a treaty with that monarch; in consequence of which he was to be furnished with military stores, and ships to destroy the commerce of other Christian governments. >I have completed my mission,= said the eunuch; ‘I am going to take ship at Ceuta, and I’ll take you along with me to Italy. Ma che sciagura d’essere senza coglioni!= I thanked him with tears of joy, but, not withstanding, instead of taking me with him to Italy, he carried me to Algiers, and sold me to the Dey of that province. I had not been long a slave when the plague, which had made the tour of Africa, Asia, and Europe, broke out at Algiers with redoubled fury. You have seen an earthquake; but tell me, miss, have you ever had the [email protected] ANever,@ answered the young Baroness.

AIf you had ever had it,@ continued the old woman, Ayou would own an earthquake was a trifle to it. It is very common in Africa; I was seized with it. Imagine the distressed condition of the daughter of a Pope, only fifteen years old, who in less than three months had felt the miseries of poverty and slavery; had been debauched almost every day; had beheld her mother cut into four quarters; had experienced the scourges of famine and war; and was now dying of the plague at Algiers. I did not, however, die of it; but my eunuch, and the Dey, and almost the whole seraglio of Algiers, were swept off.

AAs soon as the first fury of this dreadful pestilence was over, a sale was made of the Dey’s slaves. I was purchased by a merchant who carried me to Tunis. This man sold me to another merchant, who sold me again to another at Tripoli; from Tripoli I was sold to Alexandria, from Alexandria to Smyrna, and from Smyrna to Constantinople. After many changes, I at length became the property of an Aga of the Janissaries, who, soon after I came into his possession, was ordered away to the defense of Azov, then besieged by the Russians.

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