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The America Edition’s Cover
SAINT-EXUPÉRY, Antoine de
(1900-44). An adventurous pilot
and a lyrical poet, Antoine de
Saint-Exupéry conveyed in his
books the solitude and mystic
grandeur of the early days of
flight. He described dangerous
adventures in the skies and also
wrote the whimsical children’s
fable ‘The Little Prince’.
Saint-Exupéry was born on June
29, 1900, in Lyon, France. In
the 1920s he helped establish
airmail routes overseas. During
World War II he flew as a
military reconnaissance pilot.
After the Germans occupied
France in 1940, he escaped to
the United States. He rejoined
the air force in North Africa in
1943. During what was to have
been his final reconnaissance
mission over the Mediterranean
Sea, he died when his plane was shot down on July 31, 1944.
Saint-Exupery’s first book, ‘Southern Mail’, was about the life and death of an airmail pilot.
It was published in French in 1929. Other books include ‘Night Flight’ (1931), about the first
airline pilots, and ‘Wind, Sand, and Stars’ (1939), in which he describes his feelings during
flights over the desert.
‘The Little Prince’ (1943), which in a way is really a children’s book for grown-ups, was
written during Saint-Exupery’s stay in the United States. A gentle and thoughtful book, it
tells the story of a boy who lives alone on a tiny planet.
A final volume of reflections, which provides an insight into the author’s views on the
meaning of life, is ‘The Wisdom of the Sands’ (1948). This book was published after the
— From Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia
we are introduced to the narrator, a pilot, and his
ideas about grown-ups
Once when I was six years old I saw a magnificent picture in a book, called
True Stories from Nature, about the primeval forest. It was a picture of a boa
constrictor in the act of swallowing an animal. Here is a copy of the drawing.
In the book it said: “Boa constrictors swallow their prey whole, without chewing
it. After that they are not able to move, and they sleep through the six months
that they need for digestion.”
I pondered deeply, then, over the adventures of the jungle. And after some
work with a colored pencil I succeeded in making my first drawing. My Drawing
Number One. It looked like this:
I showed my masterpiece to the grown-ups, and asked them whether the
drawing frightened them.
But they answered: “Frighten? Why should any one be frightened by a hat?”
My drawing was not a picture of a hat. It was a picture of a boa constrictor
digesting an elephant. But since the grown-ups were not able to understand it,
I made another drawing: I drew the inside of the boa constrictor, so that the
grown-ups could see it clearly. They always need to have things explained. My
Drawing Number Two looked like this:
the narrator crashes in the desert and makes the
acquaintance of the little prince
So I lived my life alone, without anyone that I could really talk to, until I had an
accident with my plane in the Desert of Sahara, six years ago. Something
was broken in my engine. And as I had with me neither a mechanic nor any
passengers, I set myself to attempt the difficult repairs all alone. It was a
question of life or death for me: I had scarcely enough drinking water to last a
The first night, then, I went to sleep on the sand, a thousand miles from any
human habitation. I was more isolated than a shipwrecked sailor on a raft in
the middle of the ocean. Thus you can imagine my amazement, at sunrise,
when I was awakened by an odd little voice. It said:
“If you please– draw me a sheep!”
“Draw me a sheep!”
I jumped to my feet, completely thunderstruck. I blinked my eyes hard. I
looked carefully all around me. And I saw a most extraordinary small person,
who stood there examining me with great seriousness. Here you may see the
best potrait that, later, I was able to make of him. But my drawing is certainly
very much less charming than its model.
That, however, is not my fault. The grown-ups discouraged me in my painter’s
career when I was six years old, and I never learned to draw anything, except
boas from the outside and boas from the inside.
Now I stared at this sudden apparition with my eyes fairly starting out of my
head in astonishment. Remember, I had crashed in the desert a thousand
miles from any inhabited region. And yet my little man seemed neither to be
straying uncertainly among the sands, nor to be fainting from fatigue or
hunger or thirst or fear. Nothing about him gave any suggestion of a child lost
in the middle of the desert, a thousand miles from any human habitation.
When at last I was able to speak, I said to him:
“But– what are you doing here?”
And in answer he repeated, very slowly, as if he were speaking of a matter of
great consequence: “If you please– draw me a sheep…”
When a mystery is too overpowering, one dare not disobey. Absurd as it
might seem to me, a thousand miles from any human habitation and in
danger of death, I took out of my pocket a sheet of paper and my fountain-pen.
But then I remembered how my studies had been concentrated on geography,
history, arithmetic, and grammar, and I told the little chap (a little crossly, too)
that I did not know how to draw. He answered me:
“That doesn’t matter. Draw me a sheep…”
But I had never drawn a sheep. So I drew for him one of the two pictures I had
drawn so often. It was that of the boa constrictor from the outside. And I was
astounded to hear the little fellow greet it with,
“No, no, no! I do not want an elephant inside a boa constrictor. A boa
constrictor is a very dangerous creature, and an elephant is very
cumbersome. Where I live, everything is very small. What I need is a sheep.
Draw me a sheep.”
So then I made a drawing.
He looked at it carefully, then he said:
“No. This sheep is already very sickly. Make me another.”
So I made another drawing.
My friend smiled gently and indulgenty.
“You see yourself,” he said, “that this is not a sheep. This is a ram. It has
So then I did my drawing over once more.
But it was rejected too, just like the others.
the narrator learns more about from where the little
It took me a long time to learn where he came from. The little prince, who
asked me so many questions, never seemed to hear the ones I asked him. It
was from words dropped by chance that, little by little, everything was
revealed to me.
The first time he saw my airplane, for instance (I shall not draw my airplane;
that would be much too complicated for me), he asked me:
“What is that object?”
“That is not an object. It flies. It is an airplane. It is my airplane.”
And I was proud to have him learn that I could fly.
He cried out, then:
“What! You dropped down from the sky?”
“Yes,” I answered, modestly.
“Oh! That is funny!”
And the little prince broke into a lovely peal of laughter, which irritated me
very much. I like my misfortunes to be taken seriously.
Then he added:
“So you, too, come from the sky! Which is your planet?”
At that moment I caught a gleam of light in the impenetrable mystery of his
presence; and I demanded, abruptly:
“Do you come from another planet?”
But he did not reply. He tossed his head gently, without taking his eyes from
“It is true that on that you can’t have come from very far away…”
And he sank into a reverie, which lasted a long time. Then, taking my sheep
out of his pocket, he buried himself in the contemplation of his treasure.
You can imagine how my curiosity was aroused by this half-confidence about
the “other planets.” I made a great effort, therefore, to find out more on this
“My little man, where do you come from? What is this ‘where I live,’ of which
you speak? Where do you want to take your sheep?”
After a reflective silence he answered:
“The thing that is so good about the box you have given me is that at night he
can use it as his house.”
“That is so. And if you are good I will give you a string, too, so that you can tie
him during the day, and a post to tie him to.”
But the little prince seemed shocked by this offer:
“Tie him! What a queer idea!”
“But if you don’t tie him,” I said, “he will wander off somewhere, and get lost.”
My friend broke into another peal of laughter:
“But where do you think he would go?”
“Anywhere. Straight ahead of him.”
Then the little prince said, earnestly:
“That doesn’t matter. Where I live, everything is so small!”
And, with perhaps a hint of sadness, he added:
“Straight ahead of him, nobody can go very far…”
astronomer discovers one of these he does not give it a name, but only a
number. He might call it, for example, “Asteroid 325.”
I have serious reason to believe that the planet from which the little prince
came is the asteroid known as B-612.
This asteroid has only once been seen through the telescope. That was by a
Turkish astronomer, in 1909.
On making his discovery, the astronomer had presented it to the International
Astronomical Congress, in a great demonstration. But he was in Turkish
costume, and so nobody would believe what he said.
Grown-ups are like that…
have like to say: “Once upon a time there was a little prince who lived on a
planet that was scarcely any bigger than himself, and who had need of a
To those who understand life, that would have given a much greater air of
truth to my story.
For I do not want any one to read my book carelessly. I have suffered too
much grief in setting down these memories. Six years have already passed
since my friend went away from me, with his sheep. If I try to describe him
here, it is to make sure that I shall not forget him. To forget a friend is sad. Not
every one has had a friend. And if I forget him, I may become like the
grown-ups who are no longer interested in anything but figures…
It is for that purpose, again, that I have bought a box of paints and some
pencils. It is hard to take up drawing again at my age, when I have never
made any pictures except those of the boa constrictor from the outside and
the boa constrictor from the inside, since I was six. I shall certainly try to make
my portraits as true to life as possible. But I am not at all sure of success. One
drawing goes along all right, and another has no resemblance to its subject. I
make some errors, too, in the little prince’s height: in one place he is too tall
and in another too short. And I feel some doubts about the color of his
costume. So I fumble along as best I can, now good, now bad, and I hope
In certain more important details I shall make mistakes, also. But that is
something that will not be my fault. My friend never explained anything to me.
He thought, perhaps, that I was like himself. But I, alas, do not know how to
see sheep through t he walls of boxes. Perhaps I am a little like the
grown-ups. I have had to grow old.
we are warned as to the dangers of the baobabs
As each day passed I would learn, in our talk, something about the little
prince’s planet, his departure from it, his journey. The information would come
very slowly, as it might chance to fall from his thoughts. It was in this way that
I heard, on the third day, about the catastrophe of the baobabs.
This time, once more, I had the sheep to thank for it. For the little prince asked
me abruptly– as if seized by a grave doubt– “It is true, isn’t it, that sheep eat
“Yes, that is true.”
“Ah! I am glad!”
I did not understand why it was so important that sheep should eat little
bushes. But the little prince added:
“Then it follows that they also eat baobabs?”
I pointed out to the little prince that baobabs were not little bushes, but, on the
contrary, trees as big as castles; and that even if he took a whole herd of
elephants away with him, the herd would not eat up one single baobab.
The idea of the herd of elephants made the little prince laugh.
“We would have to put them one on top of the other,” he said.
But he made a wise comment:
“Before they grow so big, the baobabs start out by being little.”
“That is strictly correct,” I said. “But why do you want the sheep to eat the little
He answered me at once, “Oh, come, come!”, as if he were speaking of
something that was self-evident. And I was obliged to make a great mental
effort to solve this problem, without any assistance.
Indeed, as I learned, there were on the planet where the little prince lived– as
on all planets– good plants and bad plants. In consequence, there were good
seeds from good plants, and bad seeds from bad plants. But seeds are
invisible. They sleep deep in the heart of the earth’s darkness, until some one
among them is seized with the desire to awaken. Then this little seed will
stretch itself and begin– timidly at first– to push a charming little sprig
inoffensively upward toward the sun. If it is only a sprout of radish or the sprig
of a rose-bush, one would let it grow wherever it might wish. But when it is a
bad plant, one must destroy it as soon as possible, the very first instant that
one recognizes it.
Now there were some terrible seeds on the planet that was the home of the
little prince; and these were the seeds of the baobab. The soil of that planet
was infested with them. A baobab is something you will never, never be able
to get rid of if you attend to it too late. It spreads over the entire planet. It
bores clear through it with its roots. And if the planet is too small, and the
baobabs are too many, they split it in pieces…
“It is a question of discipline,” the little prince said to me later on. “When
you’ve finished your own toilet in the morning, then it is time to attend to the
toilet of your planet, just so, with the greatest care. You must see to it that you
pull up regularly all the baobabs, at the very first moment when they can be
distinguished from the rosebushes which they resemble so closely in their
earliest youth. It is very tedious work,” the little prince added, “but very easy.”
And one day he said to me: “You ought to make a beautiful drawing, so that
the children where you live can see exactly how all this is. That would be very
useful to them if they were to travel some day. Sometimes,” he added, “there
is no harm in putting off a piece of work until another day. But when it is a
matter of baobabs, that always means a catastrophe. I knew a planet that
was inhabited by a lazy man. He neglected three little bushes…”
So, as the little prince described it to me, I have made a drawing of that planet.
I do not much like to take the tone of a moralist. But the danger of the
baobabs is so little understood, and such considerable risks would be run by
anyone who might get lost on an asteroid, that for once I am breaking through
my reserve. “Children,” I say plainly, “watch out for the baobabs!”
My friends, like myself, have been skirting this danger for a long time, without
ever knowing it; and so it is for them that I have worked so hard over this
drawing. The lesson which I pass on by this means is worth all the trouble it
has cost me.
Perhaps you will ask me, “Why are there no other drawing in this book as
magnificent and impressive as this drawing of the baobabs?”
The reply is simple. I have tried. But with the others I have not been
successful. When I made the drawing of the baobabs I was carried beyond
myself by the inspiring force of urgent necessity.
the little prince and the narrator talk about sunsets
Oh, little prince! Bit by bit I came to understand the secrets of your sad little
life… For a long time you had found your only entertainment in the quiet
pleasure of looking at the sunset. I learned that new detail on the morning of
the fourth day, w hen you said to me:
“I am very fond of sunsets. Come, let us go look at a sunset now.”
“But we must wait,” I said.
“Wait? For what?”
“For the sunset. We must wait until it is time.”
At first you seemed to be very much surprised. And then you laughed to
yourself. You said to me:
“I am always thinking that I am at home!”
Just so. Everybody knows that when it is noon in the United States the sun is
setting over France.
If you could fly to France in one minute, you could go straight into the sunset,
right from noon. Unfortunately, France is too far away for that. But on your tiny
planet, my little prince, all you need do is move your chair a few steps. You
can see the day end and the twilight falling whenever you like…
“One day,” you said to me, “I saw the sunset forty-four times!”
And a little later you added:
“You know– one loves the sunset, when one is so sad…”
“Were you so sad, then?” I asked, “on the day of the forty-four sunsets?”
But the little prince made no reply.
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
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
“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.
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
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.”
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…”
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.
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
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
“Ah! Here is a subject,” exclaimed the king, when he saw the little prince
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
“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
“Hum! Hum!” replied the king. “Then I– I order you sometimes to yawn and
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.
The king made a gesture, which took in his planet, the other planets, and all
“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
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, with out 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
“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
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
“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
“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
As the 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.
“Clap your hands, one against the other,” the conceited man now directed
The little prince clapped his hands. The conceited man raised his hat in a
“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
“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.
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.
“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 over 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
“Oh, no. Little glittering objects.”
“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
“And what do you do with these stars?”
“What do I do with them?”
“Nothing. I own them.”
“You own the stars?”
“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
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
“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
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
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.
“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.
And he put out his lamp.
Then he mopped his forehead with a handkerchief decorated with red
“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 have 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.”
“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
“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!
“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
“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
“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.
“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 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
“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
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.
“Who are you?” said the little prince.
“Who are you–Who are you–Who are you?” answered the echo.
“Be my friends. I am all alone,” he said.
“I am all alone–all alone–all alone,” answered the echo.
“What a queer planet!” he thought. “It is altogether dry, and altogether pointed,
and altogether harsh and forbidding. And the people have no imagination.
They repeat whatever one says to them… On my planet I had a flower; she
always was the first to speak…”
nursing her back to life– for if I did not do that, to humble myself also, she
would really allow herself to die…”
Then he went on with his reflections: “I thought that I was rich, with a flower
that was unique in all the world; and all I had was a common rose. A common
rose, and three volcanoes that come up to my knees– and one of them
perhaps extinct forever… that doesn’t make me a very great prince…”
And he lay down in the grass and cried.
“Just that,” said the fox. “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy
who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of
you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more
than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we
shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I
shall be unique in all the world…”
“I am beginning to understand,” said the little prince. “There is a flower… I
think that she has tamed me…”
“It is possible,” said the fox. “On the Earth one sees all sorts of things.”
“Oh, but this is not on the Earth!” said the little prince.
The fox seemed perplexed, and very curious.
“On another planet?”
“Are there hunters on this planet?”
“Ah, that is interesting! Are there chickens?”
“Nothing is perfect,” sighed the fox.
But he came back to his idea.
“My life is very monotonous,” the fox said. “I hunt chickens; men hunt me. All
the chickens are just alike, and all the men are just alike. And, in
consequence, I am a little bored. But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun
came to shine on my life . I shall know the sound of a step that will be different
from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the
ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow. And then look: you
see the grain-fields down yonder? I do not ea t bread. Wheat is of no use to
me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have
hair that is the colour of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have
tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me bac k the thought of
you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat…”
The fox gazed at the little prince, for a long time.
“Please– tame me!” he said.
“I want to, very much,” the little prince replied. “But I have not much time. I
have friends to discover, and a great many things to understand.”
“One only understands the things that one tames,” said the fox. “Men have no
more time to understand anything. They buy things all ready made at the
shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so
men have no friends any more. If you want a friend, tame me…”
“What must I do, to tame you?” asked the little prince.
“You must be very patient,” replied the fox. “First you will sit down at a little
distance from me– like that– in the grass. I shall look at you out of the corner
of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of
misunderstandings. But you will sit a little closer to me, every day…”
The next day the little prince came back.
“It would have been better to come back at the same hour,” said the fox. “If,
for example, you come at four o’clock in the afternoon, then at three o’clock I
shall begin to be happy. I shall feel happier and happier as the hour advances.
At four o’clock, I shall already be worrying and jumping about. I shall show
you how happy I am! But if you come at just any time, I shall never know at
what hour my heart is to be ready to greet you… One must observe the proper
“What is a rite?” asked the little prince.
“Those also are actions too often neglected,” said the fox. “They are what
make one day different from other days, one hour from other hours. There is a
rite, for example, among my hunters. Every Thursday they dance with the
village girls. So Thursday is a wonderful day for me! I can take a walk as far
as the vineyards. But if the hunters danced at just any time, every day would
be like every other day, and I should never have any vacation at all.”
So the little prince tamed the fox. And when the hour of his departure drew
“Ah,” said the fox, “I shall cry.”
“It is your own fault,” said the little prince. “I never wished you any sort of
harm; but you wanted me to tame you…”
“Yes, that is so,” said the fox.
“But now you are going to cry!” said the little prince.
“Yes, that is so,” said the fox.
“Then it has done you no good at all!”
“It has done me good,” said the fox, “because of the color of the wheat fields.”
And then he added:
“Go and look again at the roses. You will understand now that yours is unique
in all the world. Then come back to say goodbye to me, and I will make you a
present of a secret.”
The little prince went away, to look again at the roses.
“You are not at all like my rose,” he said. “As yet you are nothing. No one has
tamed you, and you have tamed no one. You are like my fox when I first knew
him. He was only a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But I have made
him my friend, and now he is unique in all the world.”
And the roses were very much embarrassed.
“You are beautiful, but you are empty,” he went on. “One could not die for you.
To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that my rose looked just like
you– the rose that belongs to me. But in herself alone she is more important
than all the hundreds of you other roses: because it is she that I have watered;
because it is she that I have put under the glass globe; because it is she that I
have sheltered behind the screen; because it is for her that I have killed the
caterpillars (except the two or three that we saved to become butterflies);
because it is she that I have listened to, when she grumbled, or boasted, or
even sometimes when she said nothing. Because she is my rose.
And he went back to meet the fox.
“Goodbye,” he said.
“Goodbye,” said the fox. “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It
is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to
“What is essential is invisible to the eye,” the little prince repeated, so that he
would be sure to remember.
“It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so
“It is the time I have wasted for my rose–” said the little prince, so that he
would be sure to remember.
“Men have forgotten this truth,” said the fox. “But you must not forget it. You
become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible
for your rose…”
“I am responsible for my rose,” the little prince repeated, so that he would be
sure to remember.
“They are lucky,” the switchman said.
“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
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.
“Do you hear?” said the little prince. “We have wakened the well, and it is
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
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
“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
“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
“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…
I dropped my eyes, then, to the foot of the wall– and I leaped into the air.
There before me, facing the little prince, was one of those yellow snakes that
take just thirty seconds to bring your life to an end. Even as I was digging into
my pocked to get out my revolver I made a running step back. But, at the
noise I made, the snake let himself flow easily across the sand like the dying
spray of a fountain, and, in no apparent hurry, disappeared, with a light
metallic sound, among the stones.
I reached the wall just in time to catch my little man in my arms; his face was
white as snow.
“What does this mean?” I demanded. “Why are you talking with snakes?”
I had loosened the golden muffler that he always wore. I had moistened his
temples, and had given him some water to drink. And now I did not dare ask
him any more questions. He looked at me very gravely, and put his arms
around my neck. I felt his heart beating like the heart of a dying bird, shot with
“I am glad that you have found what was the matter with your engine,” he said.
“Now you can go back home–”
“How do you know about that?”
I was just coming to tell him that my work had been successful, beyond
anything that I had dared to hope.
He made no answer to my question, but he added:
“I, too, am going back home today…”
“It is much farther… it is much more difficult…”
I realized clearly that something extraordinary was happening. I was holding
him close in my arms as if he were a little child; and yet it seemed to me that
he was rushing headlong toward an abyss from which I could do nothing to
His look was very serious, like some one lost far away.
“I have your sheep. And I have the sheep’s box. And I have the muzzle…”
And he gave me a sad smile.
I waited a long time. I could see that he was reviving little by little.
“Dear little man,” I said to him, “you are afraid…”
He was afraid, there was no doubt about that. But he laughed lightly.
“I shall be much more afraid this evening…”
Once again I felt myself frozen by the sense of something irreparable. And I
knew that I could not bear the thought of never hearing that laughter any
more. For me, it was like a spring of fresh water in the desert.
“Little man,” I said, “I want to hear you laugh again.”
But he said to me:
“Tonight, it will be a year… my star, then, can be found right above the place
where I came to the Earth, a year ago…”
“Little man,” I said, “tell me that it is only a bad dream– this affair of the snake,
and the meeting-place, and the star…”
But he did not answer my plea. He said to me, instead: “The thing that is
important is the thing that is not seen…”
“Yes, I know…”
“It is just as it is with the flower. If you love a flower that lives on a star, it is
sweet to look at the sky at night. All the stars are a-bloom with flowers…”
“Yes, I know…”
“It is just as it is with the water. Because of the pulley, and the rope, what you
gave me to drink was like music. You remember– how good it was.”
“Yes, I know…”
“And at night you will look up at the stars. Where I live everything is so small
that I cannot show you where my star is to be found. It is better, like that. My
star will just be one of the stars, for you. And so you will love to watch all the
stars in the heavens… they will all be your friends. And, besides, I am going to
make you a present…”
He laughed again.
“Ah, little prince, dear little prince! I love to hear that laughter!”
“That is my present. Just that. It will be as it was when we drank the water…”
“What are you trying to say?”
“All men have the stars,” he answered, “but they are not the same things for
different people. For some, who are travelers, the stars are guides. For others
they are no more than little lights in the sky. For others, who are scholars,
they are problems . For my businessman they were wealth. But all these stars
are silent. You– you alone– will have the stars as no one else has them–”
“What are you trying to say?”
“In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so
it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night…
you– only you– will have stars that can laugh!”
And he laughed again.
“And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be
content that you have known me. You will always be my friend. You will want
to laugh with me. And you will sometimes open your window, so, for that
pleasure… and your friends w ill be properly astonished to see you laughing
as you look up at the sky! Then you will say to them, ‘Yes, the stars always
make me laugh!’ And they will think you are crazy. It will be a very shabby
trick that I shall have played on you…”
And he laughed again.
“It will be as if, in place of the stars, I had given you a great number of little
bells that knew how to laugh…”
And he laughed again. Then he quickly became serious:
“Tonight– you know… do not come,” said the little prince.
“I shall not leave you,” I said.
“I shall look as if I were suffering. I shall look a little as if I were dying. It is like
that. Do not come to see that. It is not worth the trouble…”
“I shall not leave you.”
But he was worried.
“I tell you– it is also because of the snake. He must not bite you. Snakes–
they are malicious creatures. This one might bite you just for fun…”
“I shall not leave you.”
But a thought came to reassure him:
“It is true that they have no more poison for a second bite.”
That night I did not see him set out on his way. He got away from me without
making a sound. When I succeeded in catching up with him he was walking
along with a quick and resolute step. He said to me merely:
“Ah! You are there…”
And he took me by the hand. But he was still worrying.
“It was wrong of you to come. You will suffer. I shall look as if I were dead;
and that will not be true…”
I said nothing.
“You understand… it is too far. I cannot carry this body with me. It is too
I said nothing.
“But it will be like an old abandoned shell. There is nothing sad about old
I said nothing.
He was a little discouraged. But he made one more effort:
“You know, it will be very nice. I, too, shall look at the stars. All the stars will
be wells with a rusty pulley. All the stars will pour out fresh water for me to
I said nothing.
“That will be so amusing! You will have five hundred million little bells, and I
shall have five hundred million springs of fresh water…”
And he too said nothing more, because he was crying…
“Here it is. Let me go on by myself.”
And he sat down, because he was afraid. Then he said, again:
“You know– my flower… I am responsible for her. And she is so weak! She is
so naive! She has four thorns, of no use at all, to protect herself against all the
I too sat down, because I was not able to stand up any longer.
“There now– that is all…”
He still hesitated a little; then he got up. He took one step. I could not move.
There was nothing but a flash of yellow close to his ankle. He remained
motionless for an instant. He did not cry out. He fell as gently as a tree falls.
There was not even any sound, because of the sand.
This is, to me, the loveliest and saddest landscape in the world. It is the same
as that on the preceding page, but I have drawn it again to impress it on your
memory. It is here that the little prince appeared on Earth, and disappeared.
Look at it carefully so that you will be sure to recognise it in case you travel
some day to the African desert. And, if you should come upon this spot,
please do not hurry on. Wait for a time, exactly under the star. Then, if a little
man appears who laughs, who has golden hair and who refuses to answer
questions, you will know who he is. If this should happen, please comfort me.
Send me word that he has come back.