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THE LITTLE PRINCE 3

2. června 2006 v 22:40 | Gargas |  Angličtina

VII

On the fifth day--again, as always, it was thanks to the sheep--the secret of the little prince's life was revealed to me. Abruptly, without anything to lead up to it, and as if the question had been born of long and silent meditation on his problem, he demanded:"A sheep--if it eats little bushes, does it eat flowers, too?""A sheep," I answered, "eats anything it finds in its reach.""Even flowers that have thorns?""Yes, even flowers that have thorns.""Then the thorns--what use are they?"I did not know. At that moment I was very busy trying to unscrew a bolt that had got stuck in my engine. I was very much worried, for it was becoming clear to me that the breakdown of my plane was extremely serious. And I had so little drinking-water left that I had to fear for the worst."The thorns--what use are they?"The little prince never let go of a question, once he had asked it. As for me, I was upset over that bolt. And I answered with the first thing that came into my head:"The thorns are of no use at all. Flowers have thorns just for spite!""Oh!"There was a moment of complete silence. Then the little prince flashed back at me, with a kind of resentfulness:"I don't believe you! Flowers are weak creatures. They are naďve. They reassure themselves as best they can. They believe that their thorns are terrible weapons . . ."I did not answer. At that instant I was saying to myself: "If this bolt still won't turn, I am going to knock it out with the hammer." Again the little prince disturbed my thoughts:"And you actually believe that the flowers--""Oh, no!" I cried. "No, no, no! I don't believe anything. I answered you with the first thing that came into my head. Don't you see--I am very busy with matters of consequence!"He stared at me, thunderstruck."Matters of consequence!"He looked at me there, with my hammer in my hand, my fingers black with engine-grease, bending down over an object which seemed to him extremely ugly . . ."You talk just like the grown-ups!"That made me a little ashamed. But he went on, relentlessly:"You mix everything up together . . . You confuse everything . . ."He was really very angry. He tossed his golden curls in the breeze."I know a planet where there is a certain red-faced gentleman. He has never smelled a flower. He has never looked at a star. He has never loved any one. He has never done anything in his life but add up figures. And all day he says over and over, just like you: 'I am busy with matters of consequence!' And that makes him swell up with pride. But he is not a man--he is a mushroom!""A what?""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 flower

VIII

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 colors with the greatest care. She dressed herself slowly. 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.The Little prince and the flowerAnd, 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--"The Little princ eis watering the flowerAnd 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 . . ."The Little prince is saving the flower"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 naďve 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 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."Beast of prey and the flowerAnd 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 …"Winter on the planet

IX

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 realized 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."The Little price is cleaning volcano"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, naďvely, 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.
 

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