Giddy with their newfound wealth, Candide and Cacambo set out for Suriname, a port from which they plan to take a ship back to Europe. Along the way, their red sheep—each carrying a part of the riches brought from El Dorado—begin to die. On the way to Suriname, the two travelers come across an African slave who is missing a hand and his left leg, and who says that he has been waiting for his master. The man explains that he was dismembered by his masters for attempting to run away. Candide, horrified, declares that he is no longer an optimist.
Candide's vast wealth begins to disappear as soon as he leaves El Dorado. Riches in the novel are quickly lost, and cause more trouble than good. Of all the evil institutions criticized in Candide, slavery is depicted as the very worst. Unlike almost every other episode in the novel, Candide's conversation with the slave is completely humorless. It is also the one encounter which causes Candide—briefly—to give up his optimism.
Upon his arrival in Suriname, Candide learns that Cunégonde has become Don Fernando's favorite mistress. He is upset, but plans to get her back by sending Cacambo, with half the riches, to bid for her in Buenos Aires. (If he went himself, he might be arrested.) Candide plans to head to Venice, where he will wait for Cacambo's return.
Cunégonde always seems to end up held captive and enjoyed by men other than Candide, who is always just on the cusp of being able to be with her. In this way, Cunégonde is a symbol for the futility and endlessness of human desires: she is what keeps Candide moving, but also what he can never have.
Candide arranges for the Dutch merchant Vanderdendur to take him to Venice. At the last minute, the merchant sails off without him, stealing all of his riches. Candide is so angry that he begins thinking pessimistic and gloomy thoughts about humankind. Eventually, he arranges another voyage, and selects a traveling companion from among the most dissatisfied people in the province. The man who voyages with him to Bordeaux is a pessimistic scholar named Martin.
Candide is tricked countless times in the novel, but after this incident, we see him angry for the first time. When Candide looks for a traveling companion, it should be noted that he looks among the unfortunate. Sufferers seek fellow sufferers for consolation, especially in this novel.