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 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 sky.”
“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 accurate.”
“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 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.
第四个行星是一个实业家的星球。这个人忙得不可开交，小王子到来的时候，他甚至连头都没有抬一下。 小王子对他说：“您好。您的烟卷灭了。” “三加二等于五。五加七等于十二。十二加三等于十五。你好。十五加七，二十二。二十二加六，二十八。没有时间去再点着它。二十六加五，三十一。哎哟！一共是五亿一百六十二万二千七百三十一。” “五亿什么呀？” “嗯？你还待在这儿那？五亿一百万…我也不知道是什么了。我的工作很多…我是很严肃的，我可是从来也没有功夫去闲聊！二加五得七…” “五亿一百万什么呀？”小王子重复问道。一旦他提出了一个问题，是从来也不会放弃的。 这位实业家抬起头，说： “我住在这个星球上五十四年以来，只被打搅过三次。第一次是二十二年前，不知从哪里跑来了一只金龟子来打搅我。它发出一种可怕的噪音，使我在一笔帐目中出了四个差错。第二次，在十一年前，是风湿病发作，因为我缺乏锻炼所致。我没有功夫闲逛。我可是个严肃的人。现在…这是第三次！我计算的结果是五亿一百万…” “几百万什么？” 这位实业家知道要想安宁是无望的了，就说道： “几百万个小东西，这些小东西有时出现在天空中。” “苍蝇吗？” “不是，是些闪闪发亮的小东西。” “是蜜蜂吗？” “不是，是金黄色的小东西，这些小东西叫那些懒汉们胡思乱想。我是个严肃的人。我没有时间胡思乱想。” “啊，是星星吗？” “对了，就是星星。” “你要拿这五亿星星做什么？” “五亿一百六十二万七百三十一颗星星。我是严肃的人，我是非常精确的。” “你拿这些星星做什么？” “我要它做什么？” “是呀。” “什么也不做。它们都是属于我的。” “星星是属于你的？” “是的。” “可是我已经见到过一个国王，他…” “国王并不占有，他们只是进行‘统治’。这不是一码事。” “你拥有这许多星星有什么用？” “富了就可以去买别的星星，如果有人发现了别的星星的话。” 小王子自言自语地说：“这个人想问题有点象那个酒鬼一样。” 可是他又提了一些问题： “你怎么能占有星星呢？” “那么你说星星是谁的呀？”实业家不高兴地顶了小王子一句。 “我不知道，不属于任何人。” “那么，它们就是我的，因为是我第一个想到了这件事情的。” “这就行了吗？” “那当然。如果你发现了一颗没有主人的钻石，那么这颗钻石就是属于你的。当你发现一个岛是没有主的，那么这个岛就是你的。当你首先想出了一个办法，你就去领一个专利证，这个办法就是属于你的。既然在我之前不曾有任何人想到要占有这些星星，那我就占有这些星星。” “这倒也是。可是你用它们来干什么？”小王子说。 “我经营管理这些星星。我一遍又一遍地计算它们的数目。这是一件困难的事。但我是一个严肃认真的人！” 小王子仍然还不满足，他说： “对我来说，如果我有一条围巾，我可以用它来围着我的脖子，并且能带走它。我有一朵花的话，我就可以摘下我的花，并且把它带走。可你却不能摘下这些星星呀！” “我不能摘，但我可以把它们存在银行里。” “这是什么意思呢？” “这就是说，我把星星的数目写在一片小纸头上，然后把这片纸头锁在一个抽屉里。” “这就算完事了吗？” “这样就行了。” 小王子想道：“真好玩。这倒蛮有诗意，可是，并不算是了不起的正经事。” 关于什么是正经事，小王子的看法与大人们的看法非常不同。他接着又说： “我有一朵花，我每天都给她浇水。我还有三座火山，我每星期把它们全都打扫一遍。连死火山也打扫。谁知道它会不会再复活。我拥有火山和花，这对我的火山有益处，对我的花也有益处。但是你对星星并没有用处…” 实业家张口结舌无言以对。于是小王子就走了。 在旅途中，小王子只是自言自语地说了一句：“这些大人们真是奇怪极了。”