Tuesday, June 26, 2012

ANTOINDE de SAINT EXUPERY - The little Prince (Part 2)



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.
"The screen?"
"I was just going to look for it when you spoke to me..."
Then she forced her cough a little more so that he shoud 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, naïvely, 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...




 CHAPTER 9 -The little prince visits the king



He found himself in the neighborhood of the asteroids 325, 326, 327, 328, 329, and 330. He began, therefore, by visiting them, in order to add to his knowledge.
The first of them was inhabited by a king. Clad in royal purple and ermine, he was seated upon a throne which was at the same time both simple and majestic.
"Ah! Here is a subject," exclaimed the king, when he saw the little prince coming.
And the little prince asked himself:
"How could he recognize me when he had never seen me before?"
He did not know how the world is simplified for kings. To them, all men are subjects.
"Approach, so that I may see you better," said the king, who felt consumingly proud of being at last a king over somebody.
The little prince looked everywhere to find a place to sit down; but the entire planet was crammed and obstructed by the king's magnificent ermine robe. So he remained standing upright, and, since he was tired, he yawned.
"It is contrary to etiquette to yawn in the presence of a king," the monarch said to him. "I forbid you to do so."
"I can't help it. I can't stop myself," replied the little prince, thoroughly embarrassed. "I have come on a long journey, and I have had no sleep..."
"Ah, then," the king said. "I order you to yawn. It is years since I have seen anyone yawning. Yawns, to me, are objects of curiosity. Come, now! Yawn again! It is an order."
"That frightens me... I cannot, any more..." murmured the little prince, now completely abashed.
"Hum! Hum!" replied the king. "Then I-- I order you sometimes to yawn and sometimes to--"
He sputtered a little, and seemed vexed.
For what the king fundamentally insisted upon was that his authority should be respected. He tolerated no disobedience. He was an absolute monarch. But, because he was a very good man, he made his orders reasonable.
"If I ordered a general," he would say, by way of example, "if I ordered a general to change himself into a sea bird, and if the general did not obey me, that would not be the fault of the general. It would be my fault."
"May I sit down?" came now a timid inquiry from the little prince.
"I order you to do so," the king answered him, and majestically gathered in a fold of his ermine mantle.







But the little prince was wondering... The planet was tiny. Over what could this king really rule?
"Sire," he said to him, "I beg that you will excuse my asking you a question--"
"I order you to ask me a question," the king hastened to assure him.
"Sire-- over what do you rule?"
"Over everything," said the king, with magnificent simplicity.
"Over everything?"
The king made a gesture, which took in his planet, the other planets, and all the stars.
"Over all that?" asked the little prince.
"Over all that," the king answered.
For his rule was not only absolute: it was also universal.
"And the stars obey you?"
"Certainly they do," the king said. "They obey instantly. I do not permit insubordination."
Such power was a thing for the little prince to marvel at. If he had been master of such complete authority, he would have been able to watch the sunset, not forty-four times in one day, but seventy-two, or even a hundred, or even two hundred times, without ever having to move his chair. And because he felt a bit sad as he remembered his little planet which he had forsaken, he plucked up his courage to ask the king a favor:
"I should like to see a sunset... do me that kindness... Order the sun to set..."
"If I ordered a general to fly from one flower to another like a butterfly, or to write a tragic drama, or to change himself into a sea bird, and if the general did not carry out the order that he had received, which one of us would be in the wrong?" the king demanded. "The general, or myself?"
"You," said the little prince firmly.
"Exactly. One much require from each one the duty which each one can perform," the king went on. "Accepted authority rests first of all on reason. If you ordered your people to go and throw themselves into the sea, they would rise up in revolution. I have the right to require obedience because my orders are reasonable."
"Then my sunset?" the little prince reminded him: for he never forgot a question once he had asked it.
"You shall have your sunset. I shall command it. But, according to my science of government, I shall wait until conditions are favorable."
"When will that be?" inquired the little prince.
"Hum! Hum!" replied the king; and before saying anything else he consulted a bulky almanac. "Hum! Hum! That will be about-- about-- that will be this evening about twenty minutes to eight. And you will see how well I am obeyed."
The little prince yawned. He was regretting his lost sunset. And then, too, he was already beginning to be a little bored.
"I have nothing more to do here," he said to the king. "So I shall set out on my way again."
"Do not go," said the king, who was very proud of having a subject. "Do not go. I will make you a Minister!"
"Minister of what?"
"Minster of-- of Justice!"
"But there is nobody here to judge!"
"We do not know that," the king said to him. "I have not yet made a complete tour of my kingdom. I am very old. There is no room here for a carriage. And it tires me to walk."
"Oh, but I have looked already!" said the little prince, turning around to give one more glance to the other side of the planet. On that side, as on this, there was nobody at all...
"Then you shall judge yourself," the king answered. "that is the most difficult thing of all. It is much more difficult to judge oneself than to judge others. If you succeed in judging yourself rightly, then you are indeed a man of true wisdom."
"Yes," said the little prince, "but I can judge myself anywhere. I do not need to live on this planet.
"Hum! Hum!" said the king. "I have good reason to believe that somewhere on my planet there is an old rat. I hear him at night. You can judge this old rat. From time to time you will condemn him to death. Thus his life will depend on your justice. But you will pardon him on each occasion; for he must be treated thriftily. He is the only one we have."
"I," replied the little prince, "do not like to condemn anyone to death. And now I think I will go on my way."
"No," said the king.
But the little prince, having now completed his preparations for departure, had no wish to grieve the old monarch.
"If Your Majesty wishes to be promptly obeyed," he said, "he should be able to give me a reasonable order. He should be able, for example, to order me to be gone by the end of one minute. It seems to me that conditions are favorable..."
As thte king made no answer, the little prince hesitated a moment. Then, with a sigh, he took his leave.
"I made you my Ambassador," the king called out, hastily.
He had a magnificent air of authority.
"The grown-ups are very strange," the little prince said to himself, as he continued on his journey.




CHAPTER 11 - The little prince visits the conceited man

The second planet was inhabited by a conceited man. "Ah! Ah! I am about to receive a visit from an admirer!" he exclaimed from afar, when he first saw the little prince coming.
For, to conceited men, all other men are admirers.










"Good morning," said the little prince. "That is a queer hat you are wearing."
"It is a hat for salutes," the conceited man replied. "It is to raise in salute when people acclaim me. Unfortunately, nobody at all ever passes this way."
"Yes?" said the little prince, who did not understand what the conceited man was talking about.
"Clap your hands, one against the other," the conceited man now directed him.
The little prince clapped his hands. The conceited man raised his hat in a modest salute.
"This is more entertaining than the visit to the king," the little prince said to himself. And he began again to clap his hands, one against the other. The conceited man against raised his hat in salute.
After five minutes of this exercise the little prince grew tired of the game's monotony.
"And what should one do to make the hat come down?" he asked.
But the conceited man did not hear him. Conceited people never hear anything but praise.
"Do you really admire me very much?" he demanded of the little prince.
"What does that mean-- 'admire'?"
"To admire mean that you regard me as the handsomest, the best-dressed, the richest, and the most intelligent man on this planet."
"But you are the only man on your planet!"
"Do me this kindness. Admire me just the same."
"I admire you," said the little prince, shrugging his shoulders slightly, "but what is there in that to interest you so much?"
And the little prince went away.
"The grown-ups are certainly very odd," he said to himself, as he continued on his journey.




CHAPTER 12 - The little prince visits the tippler


The next planet was inhabited by a tippler. This was a very short visit, but it plunged the little prince into deep dejection.
"What are you doing there?" he said to the tippler, whom he found settled down in silence before a collection of empty bottles and also a collection of full bottles.
"I am drinking," replied the tippler, with a lugubrious air.
"Why are you drinking?" demanded the little prince.
"So that I may forget," replied the tippler.
"Forget what?" inquired the little prince, who already was sorry for him.







"Forget that I am ashamed," the tippler confessed, hanging his head.
"Ashamed of what?" insisted the little prince, who wanted to help him.
"Ashamed of drinking!" The tipler brought his speech to an end, and shut himself up in an impregnable silence.
And the little prince went away, puzzled.
"The grown-ups are certainly very, very odd," he said to himself, as he continued on his journey.






CHAPTER 13 - The little prince visits the businessman


The fourth planet belonged to a businessman. This man was so much occupied that he did not even raise his head at the little prince's arrival.
"Good morning," the little prince said to him. "Your cigarette has gone out."
"Three and two make five. Five and seven make twelve. Twelve and three make fifteen. Good morning. FIfteen and seven make twenty-two. Twenty-two and six make twenty-eight. I haven't time to light it again. Twenty-six and five make thirty-one. Phew ! Then that makes five-hundred-and-one-million, six-hundred-twenty-two-thousand, seven-hundred-thirty-one."
"Five hundred million what?" asked the little prince.
"Eh? Are you still there? Five-hundred-and-one million-- I can't stop... I have so much to do! I am concerned with matters of consequence. I don't amuse myself with balderdash. Two and five make seven..."









"Five-hundred-and-one million what?" repeated the little prince, who never in his life had let go of a question once he had asked it.
The businessman raised his head.
"During the fifty-four years that I have inhabited this planet, I have been disturbed only three times. The first time was twenty-two years ago, when some giddy goose fell from goodness knows where. He made the most frightful noise that resounded all ov er the place, and I made four mistakes in my addition. The second time, eleven years ago, I was disturbed by an attack of rheumatism. I don't get enough exercise. I have no time for loafing. The third time-- well, this is it! I was saying, then, five -hundred-and-one millions--"
"Millions of what?"
The businessman suddenly realized that there was no hope of being left in peace until he answered this question.
"Millions of those little objects," he said, "which one sometimes sees in the sky."
"Flies?"
"Oh, no. Little glittering objects."
"Bees?"
"Oh, no. Little golden objects that set lazy men to idle dreaming. As for me, I am concerned with matters of consequence. There is no time for idle dreaming in my life."
"Ah! You mean the stars?"
"Yes, that's it. The stars."
"And what do you do with five-hundred millions of stars?"
"Five-hundred-and-one million, six-hundred-twenty-two thousand, seven-hundred-thirty-one. I am concerned with matters of consequence: I am accurate."
"And what do you do with these stars?"
"What do I do with them?"
"Yes."
"Nothing. I own them."
"You own the stars?"
"Yes."
"But I have already seen a king who--"
"Kings do not own, they reign over. It is a very different matter."
"And what good does it do you to own the stars?"
"It does me the good of making me rich."
"And what good does it do you to be rich?"
"It makes it possible for me to buy more stars, if any are ever discovered."
"This man," the little prince said to himself, "reasons a little like my poor tippler..."
Nevertheless, he still had some more questions.
"How is it possible for one to own the stars?"
"To whom do they belong?" the businessman retorted, peevishly.
"I don't know. To nobody."
"Then they belong to me, because I was the first person to think of it."
"Is that all that is necessary?"
"Certainly. When you find a diamond that belongs to nobody, it is yours. When you discover an island that belongs to nobody, it is yours. When you get an idea before any one else, you take out a patent on it: it is yours. So with me: I own the stars, because nobody else before me ever thought of owning them."
"Yes, that is true," said the little prince. "And what do you do with them?"
"I administer them," replied the businessman. "I count them and recount them. It is difficult. But I am a man who is naturally interested in matters of consequence."
The little prince was still not satisfied.
"If I owned a silk scarf," he said, "I could put it around my neck and take it away with me. If I owned a flower, I could pluck that flower and take it away with me. But you cannot pluck the stars from heaven..."
"No. But I can put them in the bank."
"Whatever does that mean?"
"That means that I write the number of my stars on a little paper. And then I put this paper in a drawer and lock it with a key."
"And that is all?"
"That is enough," said the businessman.
"It is entertaining," thought the little prince. "It is rather poetic. But it is of no great consequence."
On matters of consequence, the little prince had ideas which were very different from those of the grown-ups.
"I myself own a flower," he continued his conversation with the businessman, "which I water every day. I own three volcanoes, which I clean out every week (for I also clean out the one that is extinct; one never knows). It is of some use to my volcanoes , and it is of some use to my flower, that I own them. But you are of no use to the stars..."
The businessman opened his mouth, but he found nothing to say in answer. And the little prince went away.
"The grown-ups are certainly altogether extraordinary," he said simply, talking to himself as he continued on his journey.



CHAPTER 14 - The little prince visits the lamplighter

The fifth planet was very strange. It was the smallest of all. There was just enough room on it for a street lamp and a lamplighter. The little prince was not able to reach any explanation of the use of a street lamp and a lamplighter, somewhere in the heavens, on a planet which had no people, and not one house. But he said to himself, nevertheless: "It may well be that this man is absurd. But he is not so absurd as the king, the conceited man, the businessman, and the tippler. For at least his work has some meaning. When he lights his street lamp, it is as if he brought one more star to life, or one flower. When he puts out his lamp, he sends the flower, or the star, to sleep. That is a beautiful occupation. And since it is beautiful, it is truly useful."









When he arrived on the planet he respectfully saluted the lamplighter.
"Good morning. Why have you just put out your lamp?"
"Those are the orders," replied the lamplighter. "Good morning."
"What are the orders?"
"The orders are that I put out my lamp. Good evening."
And he lighted his lamp again.
"But why have you just lighted it again?"
"Those are the orders," replied the lamplighter.
"I do not understand," said the little prince.
"There is nothing to understand," said the lamplighter. "Orders are orders. Good morning."
And he put out his lamp.
Then he mopped his forehead with a handkerchief decorated with red squares.
"I follow a terrible profession. In the old days it was reasonable. I put the lamp out in the morning, and in the evening I lighted it again. I had the rest of the day for relaxation and the rest of the night for sleep."
"And the orders ahve been changed since that time?"
"The orders have not been changed," said the lamplighter. "That is the tragedy! From year to year the planet has turned more rapidly and the orders have not been changed!"
"Then what?" asked the little prince.
"Then-- the planet now makes a complete turn every minute, and I no longer have a single second for repose. Once every minute I have to light my lamp and put it out!"
"That is very funny! A day lasts only one minute, here where you live!"
"It is not funny at all!" said the lamplighter. "While we have been talking together a month has gone by."
"A month?"
"Yes, a month. Thirty minutes. Thirty days. Good evening."
And he lighted his lamp again.
As the little prince watched him, he felt that he loved this lamplighter who was so faithful to his orders. He remembered the sunsets which he himself had gone to seek, in other days, merely by pulling up his chair; and he wanted to help his friend.
"You know," he said, "I can tell you a way you can rest whenever you want to..."
"I always want to rest," said the lamplighter.
For it is possible for a man to be faithful and lazy at the same time.
The little prince went on with his explanation:
"Your planet is so small that three strides will take you all the way around it. To be always in the sunshine, you need only walk along rather slowly. When you want to rest, you will walk-- and the day will last as long as you like."
"That doesn't do me much good," said the lamplighter. "The one thing I love in life is to sleep."
"Then you're unlucky," said the little prince.
"I am unlucky," said the lamplighter. "Good morning."
And he put out his lamp.
"That man," said the little prince to himself, as he continued farther on his journey, "that man would be scorned by all the others: by the king, by the conceited man, by the tippler, by the businessman. Nevertheless he is the only one of them all who does not seem to me ridiculous. Perhaps that is because he is thinking of something else besides himself."
He breathed a sigh of regret, and said to himself, again:
"That man is the only one of them all whom I could have made my friend. But his planet is indeed too small. There is no room on it for two people..."
What the little prince did not dare confess was that he was sorry most of all to leave this planet, because it was blest every day with 1440 sunsets!





CHAPTER 15 - The little prince visits the geographer


The sixth planet was ten times larger than the last one. It was inhabited by an old gentleman who wrote voluminous books. "Oh, look! Here is an explorer!" he exclaimed to himself when he saw the little prince coming.
The little prince sat down on the table and panted a little. He had already traveled so much and so far!
"Where do you come from?" the old gentleman said to him.
"What is that big book?" said the little prince. "What are you doing?"
"I am a geographer," the old gentleman said to him.
"What is a geographer?" asked the little prince.
"A geographer is a scholar who knows the location of all the seas, rivers, towns, mountains, and deserts."
"That is very interesting," said the little prince. "Here at last is a man who has a real profession!" And he cast a look around him at the planet of the geographer. It was the most magnificent and stately planet that he had ever seen.






"Your planet is very beautiful," he said. "Has it any oceans?"
"I couldn't tell you," said the geographer.
"Ah!" The little prince was disappointed. "Has it any mountains?"
"I couldn't tell you," said the geographer.
"And towns, and rivers, and deserts?"
"I couldn't tell you that, either."
"But you are a geographer!"
"Exactly," the geographer said. "But I am not an explorer. I haven't a single explorer on my planet. It is not the geographer who goes out to count the towns, the rivers, the mountains, the seas, the oceans, and the deserts. The geographer is much too important to go loafing about. He does not leave his desk. But he receives the explorers in his study. He asks them questions, and he notes down what they recall of their travels. And if the recollections of any one among them seem interesting to him, the geographer orders an inquiry into that explorer's moral character."
"Why is that?"
"Because an explorer who told lies would bring disaster on the books of the geographer. So would an explorer who drank too much."
"Why is that?" asked the little prince.
"Because intoxicated men see double. Then the geographer would note down two mountains in a place where there was only one."
"I know some one," said the little prince, "who would make a bad explorer."
"That is possible. Then, when the moral character of the explorer is shown to be good, an inquiry is ordered into his discovery."
"One goes to see it?"
"No. That would be too complicated. But one requires the explorer to furnish proofs. For example, if the discovery in question is that of a large mountain, one requires that large stones be brought back from it."
The geographer was suddenly stirred to excitement.
"But you-- you come from far away! You are an explorer! You shall describe your planet to me!"
And, having opened his big register, the geographer sharpened his pencil. The recitals of explorers are put down first in pencil. One waits until the explorer has furnished proofs, before putting them down in ink.
"Well?" said the geographer expectantly.
"Oh, where I live," said the little prince, "it is not very interesting. It is all so small. I have three volcanoes. Two volcanoes are active and the other is extinct. But one never knows."
"One never knows," said the geographer.
"I have also a flower."
"We do not record flowers," said the geographer.
"Why is that? The flower is the most beautiful thing on my planet!"
"We do not record them," said the geographer, "because they are ephemeral."
"What does that mean-- 'ephemeral'?"
"Geographies," said the geographer, "are the books which, of all books, are most concerned with matters of consequence. They never become old-fashioned. It is very rarely that a mountain changes its position. It is very rarely that an ocean empties itself of its waters. We write of eternal things."
"But extinct volcanoes may come to life again," the little prince interrupted. "What does that mean-- 'ephemeral'?"
"Whether volcanoes are extinct or alive, it comes to the same thing for us," said the geographer. "The thing that matters to us is the mountain. It does not change."
"But what does that mean-- 'ephemeral'?" repeated the little prince, who never in his life had let go of a question, once he had asked it.
"It means, 'which is in danger of speedy disappearance.'"
"Is my flower in danger of speedy disappearance?"
"Certainly it is."
"My flower is ephemeral," the little prince said to himself, "and she has only four thorns to defend herself against the world. And I have left her on my planet, all alone!"
That was his first moment of regret. But he took courage once more.
"What place would you advise me to visit now?" he asked.
"The planet Earth," replied the geographer. "It has a good reputation."
And the little prince went away, thinking of his flower.





CHAPTER 16 - The narrator discusses the Earth's lamplighters


So then the seventh planet was the Earth.
The Earth is not just an ordinary planet! One can count, there 111 kings (not forgetting, to be sure, the Negro kings among them), 7000 geographers, 900,000 businessmen, 7,500,000 tipplers, 311,000,000 conceited men-- that is to say, about 2,000,000,000 grown-ups.
To give you an idea of the size of the Earth, I will tell you that before the invention of electricity it was necessary to maintain, over the whole of the six continents, a veritable army of 462,511 lamplighters for the street lamps.
Seen from a slight distance, that would make a splendid spectacle. The movements of this army would be regulated like those of the ballet in the opera. First would come the turn of the lamplighters of New Zealand and Australia. Having set their lamps alight, these would go off to sleep. Next, the lamplighters of China and Siberia would enter for their steps in the dance, and then they too would be waved back into the wings. After that would come the turn of the lamplighters of Russia and the Indies; then those of Africa and Europe, then those of South America; then those of South America; then those of North America. And never would they make a mistake in the order of their entry upon the stage. It would be magnificent.
Only the man who was in charge of the single lamp at the North Pole, and his colleague who was responsible for the single lamp at the South Pole-- only these two would live free from toil and care: they would be busy twice a year.


CHAPTER 17 - The little prince makes the acquaintance of the snake


When one wishes to play the wit, he sometimes wanders a little from the truth. I have not been altogether honest in what I have told you about the lamplighters. And I realize that I run the risk of giving a false idea of our planet to those who do not know it. Men occupy a very small place upon the Earth. If the two billion inhabitants who people its surface were all to stand upright and somewhat crowded together, as they do for some big public assembly, they could easily be put into one public square twenty miles long and twenty miles wide. All humanity could be piled up on a small Pacific islet.
The grown-ups, to be sure, will not believe you when you tell them that. They imagine that they fill a great deal of space. They fancy themselves as important as the baobabs. You should advise them, then, to make their own calculations. They adore figures, and that will please them. But do not waste your time on this extra task. It is unnecessary. You have, I know, confidence in me.
When the little prince arrived on the Earth, he was very much surprised not to see any people. He was beginning to be afraid he had come to the wrong planet, when a coil of gold, the color of the moonlight, flashed across the sand.






"Good evening," said the little prince courteously.
"Good evening," said the snake.
"What planet is this on which I have come down?" asked the little prince.
"This is the Earth; this is Africa," the snake answered.
"Ah! Then there are no people on the Earth?"
"This is the desert. There are no people in the desert. The Earth is large," said the snake.
The little prince sat down on a stone, and raised his eyes toward the sky.
"I wonder," he said, "whether the stars are set alight in heaven so that one day each one of us may find his own again... Look at my planet. It is right there above us. But how far away it is!"
"It is beautiful," the snake said. "What has brought you here?"
"I have been having some trouble with a flower," said the little prince.
"Ah!" said the snake.
And they were both silent.
"Where are the men?" the little prince at last took up the conversation again. "It is a little lonely in the desert..."
"It is also lonely among men," the snake said.
The little prince gazed at him for a long time.
"You are a funny animal," he said at last. "You are no thicker than a finger..."
"But I am more powerful than the finger of a king," said the snake.
The little prince smiled.
"You are not very powerful. You haven't even any feet. You cannot even travel..."
"I can carry you farther than any ship could take you," said the snake.
He twined himself around the little prince's ankle, like a golden bracelet.
"Whomever I touch, I send back to the earth from whence he came," the snake spoke again. "But you are innocent and true, and you come from a star..."
The little prince made no reply.
"You move me to pity-- you are so weak on this Earth made of granite," the snake said. "I can help you, some day, if you grow too homesick for your own planet. I can--"
"Oh! I understand you very well," said the little prince. "But why do you always speak in riddles?"
"I solve them all," said the snake.
And they were both silent.


(TO BE CONTINUED)

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