[ Chapter 24 ] – the narrator and the little prince, thirsty, hunt for a well in the desert
It was now the eighth day since I had had my accident in the desert, and I had listened to the story of the merchant as I was drinking the last drop of my water supply.
“Ah,” I said to the little prince, “these memories of yours are very charming; but I have not yet succeeded in repairing my plane; I have nothing more to drink; and I, too, should be very happy if I could walk at my leisure toward a spring of fresh water!”
“My friend the fox–” the little prince said to me.
“My dear little man, this is no longer a matter that has anything to do with the fox!”
“Because I am about to die of thirst…”
He did not follow my reasoning, and he answered me:
“It is a good thing to have had a friend, even if one is about to die. I, for instance, am very glad to have had a fox as a friend…”
“He has no way of guessing the danger,” I said to myself. “He has never been either hungry or thirsty. A little sunshine is all he needs…”
But he looked at me steadily, and replied to my thought:
“I am thirsty, too. Let us look for a well…”
I made a gesture of weariness. It is absurd to look for a well, at random, in the immensity of the desert. But nevertheless we started walking.
When we had trudged along for several hours, in silence, the darkness fell, and the stars began to come out. Thirst had made me a little feverish, and I looked at them as if I were in a dream. The little prince's last words came reeling back into my memory:
“Then you are thirsty, too?” I demanded.
But he did not reply to my question. He merely said to me:
“Water may also be good for the heart…”
I did not understand this answer, but I said nothing. I knew very well that it was impossible to cross-examine him.
He was tired. He sat down. I sat down beside him. And, after a little silence, he spoke again:
“The stars are beautiful, because of a flower that cannot be seen.”
I replied, “Yes, that is so.” And, without saying anything more, I looked across the ridges of sand that were stretched out before us in the moonlight.
“The desert is beautiful,” the little prince added.
And that was true. I have always loved the desert. One sits down on a desert sand dune, sees nothing, hears nothing. Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams…
“What makes the desert beautiful,” said the little prince, “is that somewhere it hides a well…”
I was astonished by a sudden understanding of that mysterious radiation of the sands. When I was a little boy I lived in an old house, and legend told us that a treasure was buried there. To be sure, no one had ever known how to find it; perhaps no one had ever even looked for it. But it cast an enchantment over that house. My home was hiding a secret in the depths of its heart…
“Yes,” I said to the little prince. “The house, the stars, the desert– what gives them their beauty is something that is invisible!”
“I am glad,” he said, “that you agree with my fox.”
As the little prince dropped off to sleep, I took him in my arms and set out walking once more. I felt deeply moved, and stirred. It seemed to me that I was carrying a very fragile treasure. It seemed to me, even, that there was nothing more fragile on all Earth. In the moonlight I looked at his pale forehead, his closed eyes, his locks of hair that trembled in the wind, and I said to myself: “What I see here is nothing but a shell. What is most important is invisible…”
As his lips opened slightly with the suspicious of a half-smile, I said to myself, again: “What moves me so deeply, about this little prince who is sleeping here, is his loyalty to a flower– the image of a rose that shines through his whole being like the flame of a lamp, even when he is asleep…” And I felt him to be more fragile still. I felt the need of protecting him, as if he himself were a flame that might be extinguished by a little puff of wind…
And, as I walked on so, I found the well, at daybreak.
[ Chapter 25 ] – finding a well, the narrator and the little prince discuss his return to his planet
“Men,” said the little prince, “set out on their way in express trains, but they do not know what they are looking for. Then they rush about, and get excited, and turn round and round…”
And he added:
“It is not worth the trouble…”
The well that we had come to was not like the wells of the Sahara. The wells of the Sahara are mere holes dug in the sand. This one was like a well in a village. But there was no village here, and I thought I must be dreaming…
“It is strange,” I said to the little prince. “Everything is ready for use: the pulley, the bucket, the rope…”
He laughed, touched the rope, and set the pulley to working. And the pulley moaned, like an old weathervane which the wind has long since forgotten.
“Do you hear?” said the little prince. “We have wakened the well, and it is singing…”
I did not want him to tire himself with the rope.
“Leave it to me,” I said. “It is too heavy for you.”
I hoisted the bucket slowly to the edge of the well and set it there– happy, tired as I was, over my achievement. The song of the pulley was still in my ears, and I could see the sunlight shimmer in the still trembling water.
“I am thirsty for this water,” said the little prince. “Give me some of it to drink…”
And I understood what he had been looking for.
I raised the bucket to his lips. He drank, his eyes closed. It was as sweet as some special festival treat. This water was indeed a different thing from ordinary nourishment. Its sweetness was born of the walk under the stars, the song of the pulley, the effort of my arms. It was good for the heart, like a present. When I was a little boy, the lights of the Christmas tree, the music of the Midnight Mass, the tenderness of smiling faces, used to make up, so, the radiance of the gifts I received.
“The men where you live,” said the little prince, “raise five thousand roses in the same garden– and they do not find in it what they are looking for.”
“They do not find it,” I replied.
“And yet what they are looking for could be found in one single rose, or in a little water.”
“Yes, that is true,” I said.
And the little prince added:
“But the eyes are blind. One must look with the heart…”
I had drunk the water. I breathed easily. At sunrise the sand is the color of honey. And that honey color was making me happy, too. What brought me, then, this sense of grief?
“You must keep your promise,” said the little prince, softly, as he sat down beside me once more.
“You know– a muzzle for my sheep… I am responsible for this flower…”
I took my rough drafts of drawings out of my pocket. The little prince looked them over, and laughed as he said:
“Your baobabs– they look a little like cabbages.”
I had been so proud of my baobabs!
“Your fox– his ears look a little like horns; and they are too long.”
And he laughed again.
“You are not fair, little prince,” I said. “I don't know how to draw anything except boa constrictors from the outside and boa constrictors from the inside.”
“Oh, that will be all right,” he said, “children understand.”
So then I made a pencil sketch of a muzzle. And as I gave it to him my heart was torn.
“You have plans that I do not know about,” I said.
But he did not answer me. He said to me, instead:
“You know– my descent to the earth… Tomorrow will be its anniversary.”
Then, after a silence, he went on:
“I came down very near here.”
And he flushed.
And once again, without understanding why, I had a queer sense of sorrow. One question, however, occurred to me:
“Then it was not by chance that on the morning when I first met you– a week ago– you were strolling along like that, all alone, a thousand miles from any inhabited region? You were on the your back to the place where you landed?”
The little prince flushed again.
And I added, with some hesitancy:
“Perhaps it was because of the anniversary?”
The little prince flushed once more. He never answered questions– but when one flushes does that not mean “Yes”?
“Ah,” I said to him, “I am a little frightened–”
But he interrupted me.
“Now you must work. You must return to your engine. I will be waiting for you here. Come back tomorrow evening…”
But I was not reassured. I remembered the fox. One runs the risk of weeping a little, if one lets himself be tamed…
“啊！”我对小王子说，“你回忆的这些故事真美。可是，我还没有修好我 的飞机。我没有喝的了，假如我能悠哉游哉地走到水泉边去，我一定也会很高兴 的！”
当我们默默地走了好几个小时以后，天黑了下来，星星开始发出光亮。由于 渴我有点发烧，我看着这些星星，象是在做梦一样。小王子的话在我的脑海中跳 来跳去。
我很惊讶，突然明白了为什么沙漠放着光芒。当我还是一个小孩子的时候， 我住在一座古老的房子里，而且传说，这个房子里埋藏着一个宝贝。当然，从来 没有任何人能发现这个宝贝，可能，甚至也没有人去寻找过。但是，这个宝贝使 整个房子着了魔似的。我家的房子在它的心灵深处隐藏着一个秘密……
小王子睡觉了，我就把他抱在怀里，又重新上路了。我很激动。就好象抱着 一个脆弱的宝贝。就好象在地球上没有比这更脆弱的了。我借着月光看着这惨白 的面额，这双紧闭的眼睛，这随风飘动的绺绺头发，这时我对自己说道：“我所 看到的仅仅是外表。最重要的是看不见的……”
由于看到他稍稍张开的嘴唇露出一丝微笑，我又自言自语地说：“在这个熟 睡了的小王子身上，使我非常感动的，是他对他那朵花的忠诚，是在他心中闪烁 的那朵玫瑰花的形象。这朵玫瑰花，即使在小王子睡着了的时候，也象一盏灯的 火焰一样在他身上闪耀着光辉……”这时，我就感觉到他更加脆弱。应该保护灯焰： 一阵风就可能把它吹灭……
我们终于找到的这口井，不同于撒哈拉的那些井。撒哈拉的井只是沙漠中挖 的洞。这口井则很象村子中的井。可是，那里又没有任何村庄，我还以为是在做 梦呢。
我把水桶提到他的嘴边。他闭着眼睛喝水。就象节日一般舒适愉快。这水远 不只是一种饮料，它是披星戴月走了许多路才找到的，是在辘轳的歌声中，经过 我双臂的努力得来的。它象是一件礼品慰藉着心田。在我小的时候，圣诞树的灯 光，午夜的弥撒的音乐，甜蜜的微笑，这一切都使圣诞节时我收到的礼品辉映着 幸福的光彩。