On the fifth day– again, as always, it was thanks to the sheep– the secret of the little prince’s life was revealed to me. Abruptly, without anything to lead up to it, and as if the question had been born of long and silent meditation on his problem, he demanded:
“A sheep– if it eats little bushes, does it eat flowers, too?”
“A sheep,” I answered, “eats anything it finds in its reach.”
“Even flowers that have thorns?”
“Yes, even flowers that have thorns.”
“Then the thorns– what use are they?”
I did not know. At that moment I was very busy trying to unscrew a bolt that had got stuck in my engine. I was very much worried, for it was becoming clear to me that the breakdown of my plane was extremely serious. And I had so little drinking-water left that I had to fear for the worst.
“The thorns– what use are they?”
The little prince never let go of a question, once he had asked it. As for me, I was upset over that bolt. And I answered with the first thing that came into my head:
“The thorns are of no use at all. Flowers have thorns just for spite!”
There was a moment of complete silence. Then the little prince flashed back at me, with a kind of resentfulness:
“I don’t believe you! Flowers are weak creatures. They are naive. 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 swell6 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.
第五天，还是羊的事，把小王子的生活秘密向我揭开了。好象默默地思索了很长时间以后，得出了什么结果一样，他突然没头没脑地问我： “羊，要是吃小灌木，它也要吃花罗？” “它碰到什么吃什么。” “连有刺的花也吃吗？” “有刺的也吃！” “那么刺有什么用呢？” 我不知道该怎么回答。那会儿我正忙着要从发动机上卸下一颗拧得太紧的螺丝。我发现机器故障似乎很严重，饮水也快完了，担心可能发生最坏的情况，心里很着急。 “那么刺有什么用呢？” 小王子一旦提出了问题，从来不会放过。这个该死的螺丝使我很恼火，我于是就随便回答了他一句： “刺么，什么用都没有，这纯粹是花的恶劣表现。” “噢！” 可是他沉默了一会儿之后，怀着不满的心情冲我说： “我不信！花是弱小的、淳朴的，它们总是设法保护自己，以为有了刺就可以显出自己的厉害…” 我默不作声。我当时想的，如果这个螺丝再和我作对，我就一锤子敲掉它。小王子又来打搅我的思绪了： “你却认为花…” “算了吧，算了吧！我什么也不认为！我是随便回答你的。我可有正经事要做。” 他惊讶地看着我。 “正经事？” 他瞅着我手拿锤子，手指沾满了油污，伏在一个在他看来丑不可言的机件上。 “你说话就和那些大人一样！” 这话使我有点难堪。可是他又尖刻无情地说道： “你什么都分不清…你把什么都混在一起！” 他着实非常恼火。摇动着脑袋，金黄色的头发随风颤动着。 “我到过一个星球，上面住着一个红脸先生。他从来没闻过一朵花。他从来没有看过一颗星星。他什么人也没有喜欢过。除了算帐以外，他什么也没有做过。他整天同你一样老是说：‘我有正经事，我是个严肃的人’。这使他傲气十足。他简直不象是个人，他是个蘑菇。” “是个什么？” “是个蘑菇！” 小王子当时气得脸色发白。 “几百万年以来花儿都在制造着刺，几百万年以来羊仍然在吃花。要搞清楚为什么花儿费那么大劲给自己制造没有什么用的刺，这难道不是正经事？难道羊和花之间的战争不重要？这难道不比那个大胖子红脸先生的帐目更重要？如果我认识一朵人世间唯一的花，只有我的星球上有它，别的地方都不存在，而一只小羊胡里胡涂就这样把它一下子毁掉了，这难道不重要？” 他的脸气得发红，然后又接着说道： “如果有人爱上了在这亿万颗星星中独一无二的一株花，当他看着这些星星的时候，这就足以使他感到幸福。他可以自言自语地说：‘我的那朵花就在其中的一颗星星上…’，但是如果羊吃掉了这朵花，对他来说，好象所有的星星一下子全都熄灭了一样！这难道也不重要吗？！” 他无法再说下去了，突然泣不成声。夜幕已经降临。我放下手中的工具。我把锤子、螺钉、饥渴、死亡，全都抛在脑后。在一颗星球上，在一颗行星上，在我的行星上，在地球上有一个小王子需要安慰！我把他抱在怀里。我摇着他，对他说：“你爱的那朵花没有危险…我给你的小羊画一个罩子…我给你的花画一副盔甲…我…”我也不太知道该说些什么。我觉得自己太笨拙。我不知道怎样才能达到他的境界，怎样才能再进入他的境界…唉，泪水的世界是多么神秘啊！