[ Chapter 7 ] – the narrator learns about the secret of the little prince's life
On the fifth day– again, as always, it was thanks to the sheep– the secret of the little prince's life was revealed to me. Abruptly, without anything to lead up to it, and as if the question had been born of long and silent meditation on his problem, he demanded:
“A sheep– if it eats little bushes, does it eat flowers, too?”
“A sheep,” I answered, “eats anything it finds in its reach.”
“Even flowers that have thorns?”
“Yes, even flowers that have thorns.”
“Then the thorns– what use are they?”
I did not know. At that moment I was very busy trying to unscrew a bolt that had got stuck in my engine. I was very much worried, for it was becoming clear to me that the breakdown of my plane was extremely serious. And I had so little drinking-water left that I had to fear for the worst.
“The thorns– what use are they?”
The little prince never let go of a question, once he had asked it. As for me, I was upset over that bolt. And I answered with the first thing that came into my head:
“The thorns are of no use at all. Flowers have thorns just for spite!”
There was a moment of complete silence. Then the little prince flashed back at me, with a kind of resentfulness:
“I don't believe you! Flowers are weak creatures. They are na飗e. They reassure themselves as best they can. They believe that their thorns are terrible weapons…”
I did not answer. At that instant I was saying to myself: “If this bolt still won't turn, I am going to knock it out with the hammer.” Again the little prince disturbed my thoughts.
“And you actually believe that the flowers–”
“Oh, no!” I cried. “No, no no! I don't believe anything. I answered you with the first thing that came into my head. Don't you see– I am very busy with matters of consequence!”
He stared at me, thunderstruck.
“Matters of consequence!”
He looked at me there, with my hammer in my hand, my fingers black with engine-grease, bending down over an object which seemed to him extremely ugly…
“You talk just like the grown-ups!”
That made me a little ashamed. But he went on, relentlessly:
“You mix everything up together… You confuse everything…”
He was really very angry. He tossed his golden curls in the breeze.
“I know a planet where there is a certain red-faced gentleman. He has never smelled a flower. He has never looked at a star. He has never loved any one. He has never done anything in his life but add up figures. And all day he says over and over, just like you: 'I am busy with matters of consequence!' And that makes him swell up with pride. But he is not a man– he is a mushroom!”
The little prince was now white with rage.
“The flowers have been growing thorns for millions of years. For millions of years the sheep have been eating them just the same. And is it not a matter of consequence to try to understand why the flowers go to so much trouble to grow thorns which are never of any use to them? Is the warfare between the sheep and the flowers not important? Is this not of more consequence than a fat red-faced gentleman's sums? And if I know– I, myself– one flower which is unique in the world, which grows nowhere but on my planet, but which one little sheep can destroy in a single bite some morning, without even noticing what he is doing– Oh! You think that is not important!”
His face turned from white to red as he continued:
“If some one loves a flower, of which just one single blossom grows in all the millions and millions of stars, it is enough to make him happy just to look at the stars. He can say to himself, 'Somewhere, my flower is there…' But if the sheep eats the flower, in one moment all his stars will be darkened… And you think that is not important!”
He could not say anything more. His words were choked by sobbing.
The night had fallen. I had let my tools drop from my hands. Of what moment now was my hammer, my bolt, or thirst, or death? On one star, one planet, my planet, the Earth, there was a little prince to be comforted. I took him in my arms, and rocked him. I said to him:
“The flower that you love is not in danger. I will draw you a muzzle for your sheep. I will draw you a railing to put around your flower. I will–”
I did not know what to say to him. I felt awkward and blundering. I did not know how I could reach him, where I could overtake him and go on hand in hand with him once more.
It is such a secret place, the land of tears.
[ Chapter 8 ] – the rose arrives at the little prince's planet
I soon learned to know this flower better. On the little prince's planet the flowers had always been very simple. They had only one ring of petals; they took up no room at all; they were a trouble to nobody. One morning they would appear in the grass, and by night they would have faded peacefully away. But one day, from a seed blown from no one knew where, a new flower had come up; and the little prince had watched very closely over this small sprout which was not like any other small sprouts on his planet. It might, you see, have been a new kind of baobab.
The shrub soon stopped growing, and began to get ready to produce a flower. The little prince, who was present at the first appearance of a huge bud, felt at once that some sort of miraculous apparition must emerge from it. But the flower was not satisfied to complete the preparations for her beauty in the shelter of her green chamber. She chose her colours with the greatest care. She adjusted her petals one by one. She did not wish to go out into the world all rumpled, like the field poppies. It was only in the full radiance of her beauty that she wished to appear. Oh, yes! She was a coquettish creature! And her mysterious adornment lasted for days and days.
Then one morning, exactly at sunrise, she suddenly showed herself.
And, after working with all this painstaking precision, she yawned and said:
“Ah! I am scarcely awake. I beg that you will excuse me. My petals are still all disarranged…”
But the little prince could not restrain his admiration:
“Oh! How beautiful you are!”
“Am I not?” the flower responded, sweetly. “And I was born at the same moment as the sun…”
The little prince could guess easily enough that she was not any too modest– but how moving– and exciting– she was!
“I think it is time for breakfast,” she added an instant later. “If you would have the kindness to think of my needs–”
And the little prince, completely abashed, went to look for a sprinkling-can of fresh water. So, he tended the flower.
So, too, she began very quickly to torment him with her vanity– which was, if the truth be known, a little difficult to deal with. One day, for instance, when she was speaking of her four thorns, she said to the little prince:
“Let the tigers come with their claws!”
“There are no tigers on my planet,” the little prince objected. “And, anyway, tigers do not eat weeds.”
“I am not a weed,” the flower replied, sweetly.
“Please excuse me…”
“I am not at all afraid of tigers,” she went on, “but I have a horror of drafts. I suppose you wouldn't have a screen for me?”
“A horror of drafts– that is bad luck, for a plant,” remarked the little prince, and added to himself, “This flower is a very complex creature…”
“At night I want you to put me under a glass globe. It is very cold where you live. In the place I came from–”
But she interrupted herself at that point. She had come in the form of a seed. She could not have known anything of any other worlds. Embarassed over having let herself be caught on the verge of such a naive untruth, she coughed two or three times, in order to put the little prince in the wrong.
“I was just going to look for it when you spoke to me…”
Then she forced her cough a little more so that he should suffer from remorse just the same.
So the little prince, in spite of all the good will that was inseparable from his love, had soon come to doubt her. He had taken seriously words which were without importance, and it made him very unhappy.
“I ought not to have listened to her,” he confided to me one day. “One never ought to listen to the flowers. One should simply look at them and breathe their fragrance. Mine perfumed all my planet. But I did not know how to take pleasure in all her grace. This tale of claws, which disturbed me so much, should only have filled my heart with tenderness and pity.”
And he continued his confidences:
“The fact is that I did not know how to understand anything! I ought to have judged by deeds and not by words. She cast her fragrance and her radiance over me. I ought never to have run away from her… I ought to have guessed all the affection that lay behind her poor little strategems. Flowers are so inconsistent! But I was too young to know how to love her…”
[ Chapter 9 ] – the little prince leaves his planet
I believe that for his escape he took advantage of the migration of a flock of wild birds. On the morning of his departure he put his planet in perfect order. He carefully cleaned out his active volcanoes. He possessed two active volcanoes; and they were very convenient for heating his breakfast in the morning. He also had one volcano that was extinct. But, as he said, “One never knows!” So he cleaned out the extinct volcano, too. If they are well cleaned out, volcanoes burn slowly and steadily, without any eruptions. Volcanic eruptions are like fires in a chimney.
On our earth we are obviously much too small to clean out our volcanoes. That is why they bring no end of trouble upon us.
The little prince also pulled up, with a certain sense of dejection, the last little shoots of the baobabs. He believed that he would never want to return. But on this last morning all these familiar tasks seemed very precious to him. And when he watered the flower for the last time, and prepared to place her under the shelter of her glass globe, he realised that he was very close to tears.
“Goodbye,” he said to the flower.
But she made no answer.
“Goodbye,” he said again.
The flower coughed. But it was not because she had a cold.
“I have been silly,” she said to him, at last. “I ask your forgiveness. Try to be happy…”
He was surprised by this absence of reproaches. He stood there all bewildered, the glass globe held arrested in mid-air. He did not understand this quiet sweetness.
“Of course I love you,” the flower said to him. “It is my fault that you have not known it all the while. That is of no importance. But you– you have been just as foolish as I. Try to be happy… let the glass globe be. I don't want it any more.”
“But the wind–”
“My cold is not so bad as all that… the cool night air will do me good. I am a flower.”
“But the animals–”
“Well, I must endure the presence of two or three caterpillars if I wish to become acquainted with the butterflies. It seems that they are very beautiful. And if not the butterflies– and the caterpillars– who will call upon me? You will be far away… as for the large animals– I am not at all afraid of any of them. I have my claws.”
And, naively, she showed her four thorns. Then she added:
“Don't linger like this. You have decided to go away. Now go!”
For she did not want him to see her crying. She was such a proud flower…
我不知道该怎么回答。那会儿我正忙着要从发动机上卸下一颗拧得太紧的螺 丝。我发现机器故障似乎很严重，饮水也快完了，担心可能发生最坏的情况，心 里很着急。
“算了吧，算了吧！我什么也不认为！我是随便回答你的。我可有正经事要 做。” 他惊讶地看着我。
“我到过一个星球，上面住着一个红脸先生。他从来没闻过一朵花。他从来 没有看过一颗星星。他什么人也没有喜欢过。除了算帐以外，他什么也没有做过。 他整天同你一样老是说：‘我有正经事，我是个严肃的人’。这使他傲气十足。 他简直不象是个人，他是个蘑菇。”
“几百万年以来花儿都在制造着刺，几百万年以来羊仍然在吃花。要搞清楚 为什么花儿费那么大劲给自己制造没有什么用的刺，这难道不是正经事？难道羊 和花之间的战争不重要？这难道不比那个大胖子红脸先生的帐目更重要？如果我 认识一朵人世间唯一的花，只有我的星球上有它，别的地方都不存在，而一只小 羊胡里胡涂就这样把它一下子毁掉了，这难道不重要？”
“如果有人爱上了在这亿万颗星星中独一无二的一株花，当他看着这些星星 的时候，这就足以使他感到幸福。他可以自言自语地说：‘我的那朵花就在其中 的一颗星星上……’，但是如果羊吃掉了这朵花，对他来说，好象所有的星星一下 子全都熄灭了一样！这难道也不重要吗？！”
他无法再说下去了，突然泣不成声。夜幕已经降临。我放下手中的工具。我 把锤子、螺钉、饥渴、死亡，全都抛在脑后。在一颗星球上，在一颗行星上，在 我的行星上，在地球上有一个小王子需要安慰！我把他抱在怀里。我摇着他，对 他说：“你爱的那朵花没有危险……我给你的小羊画一个罩子……我给你的花画一副 盔甲……我……”我也不太知道该说些什么。我觉得自己太笨拙。我不知道怎样才能 达到他的境界，怎样才能再进入他的境界……唉，泪水的世界是多么神秘啊！
很快我就进一步了解了这朵花儿。在小王子的星球上，过去一直都生长着一 些只有一层花瓣的很简单的花。这些花非常小，一点也不占地方，从来也不会去 打搅任何人。她们早晨在草丛中开放，晚上就凋谢了。不知从哪里来了一颗种子， 忽然一天这种子发了芽。小王子特别仔细地监视着这棵与众不同的小苗：这玩艺 说不定是一种新的猴面包树。但是，这小苗不久就不再长了，而且开始孕育着一 个花朵。看到在这棵苗上长出了一个很大很大的花蕾，小王子感觉到从这个花苞 中一定会出现一个奇迹。然而这朵花藏在它那绿茵茵的房间中用了很长的时间来 打扮自己。她精心选择着她将来的颜色，慢慢腾腾地妆饰着，一片片地搭配着她 的花瓣，她不愿象虞美人那样一出世就满脸皱纹。她要让自己带着光艳夺目的丽 姿来到世间。是的，她是非常爱俏的。她用好些好些日子天仙般地梳妆打扮。然 后，在一天的早晨，恰好在太阳升起的时候，她开放了。
但她没有说下去。她来的时候是粒种子。她哪里见过什么别的世界。她叫人 发现她是在凑一个如此不太高明的谎话，她有点羞怒，咳嗽了两三声。她的这一 招是要小王子处于有过失的地位，她说道：
有一天他告诉我说：“我不该听信她的话，绝不该听信那些花儿的话，看看 花，闻闻它就得了。我的那朵花使我的星球芳香四溢，可我不会享受它。关于老 虎爪子的事，本应该使我产生同情，却反而使我恼火……”
“我那时什么也不懂！我应该根据她的行为，而不是根据她的话来判断她。 她使我的生活芬芳多彩，我真不该离开她跑出来。我本应该猜出在她那令人爱怜 的花招后面所隐藏的温情。花是多么自相矛盾！我当时太年青，还不懂得爱她。”
我想小王子大概是利用一群候鸟迁徙的机会跑出来的。在他出发的那天早上， 他把他的星球收拾得整整齐齐，把它上头的活火山打扫得干干净净。——他有两 个活火山，早上热早点很方便。他还有一座死火山，他也把它打扫干净。他想， 说不定它还会活动呢！打扫干净了，它们就可以慢慢地有规律地燃烧，而不会突 然爆发。火山爆发就象烟囱里的火焰一样。当然，在我们地球上我们人太小，不 能打扫火山，所以火山给我们带来很多很多麻烦。
小王子还把剩下的最后几颗猴面包树苗全拔了。他有点忧伤。他以为他再也 不会回来了。这天，这些家常活使他感到特别亲切。当他最后一次浇花时，准备 把她好好珍藏起来。他发觉自己要哭出来。
她终于对他说道：“我方才真蠢。请你原谅我。希望你能幸福。” 花儿对他毫不抱怨，他感到很惊讶。他举着罩子，不知所措地伫立在那里。 他不明白她为什么会这样温柔恬静。
“的确，我爱你。”花儿对他说道：“但由于我的过错，你一点也没有理会。 这丝毫不重要。不过，你也和我一样的蠢。希望你今后能幸福。把罩子放在一边 吧，我用不着它了。”