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Nik Marcel (2Language Books)

Sunday, 12 May 2013

The Little Prince (English)

The Little Prince


Copyright © 2013 Nik Marcel

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be decompiled, reverse engineered, reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) now known or hereinafter invented, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner of this book.

This dual-language (bilingual) edition, including its compartmentalised structure, its formatting, and its translation, is owned by Nik Marcel.

2Language Books

(A Bilingual Dual-Language Project)


To Léon Werth

To all children, please excuse me for having dedicated this book to a grown-up.

I have a serious reason: this grown-up is the best friend that I have in the world. I have another reason: this person can understand anything, even books written for children. I have a third reason: this grown-up lives in France, where he is hungry and cold. He is in need of being comforted.

If all these excuses are not sufficient, then I shall dedicate this book to the child whom this adult once was. All grown-ups have first of all been children. (Although few of them recall this.) Therefore, I correct my dedication:

To Léon Werth, when he was a little boy.

Chapter I

When I was six years old I saw, one time, a magnificent picture in a book about a pristine forest. The book was called Past Recollections. It depicted a boa constrictor swallowing a wild animal. Here is a copy of the drawing.


It said in the book: “Boa constrictors swallow their prey whole, without chewing it. Afterwards they cannot even budge, and they sleep during the six months of digestion.”

I have thus thought a lot about adventures in the jungle, and I in turn have managed, with a coloured crayon, to sketch my first drawing.  My drawing number one, it looked like this:


I have shown my masterpiece to some grown-ups, and asked them if my drawing made them feel scared.

They responded to me thus: “Why would a hat make me scared?”

My drawing did not depict a hat. It showed a boa constrictor having had digested an elephant. I then drew the inside of the boa constrictor, so that the grown-ups could understand. They are always in need of explanations. My drawing number two looked like this:


These grown-ups suggested I put aside the drawings of boa constrictors, including their insides, and to concern myself instead with geography, history, arithmetic, and grammar.

It is thus that I abandoned, at the age of six years, a magnificent career in painting. I was discouraged by the failure of my drawings.

Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiring for children to always give them explanations. Hence I decided to choose another career path. I learnt to fly airplanes.

I have flown a little all over the world; and geography, it is true, has served me well. I can distinguish China from Arizona at a glance. It is useful, if one is lost during the night.

I have thus had, during the course of my life, a lot of contact with many serious people. I have spent a lot of time among grown-ups. I have seen them up close. This has not much improved my opinion of them.

Whenever I met one who seemed a little lucid, I tried the exercise of showing them my drawings, which I have always kept.

I wanted to know if this grown-up was actually intelligent, but they would always reply: “It is a hat.”

Then I would never speak to them of boa constrictors, nor of pristine forests, and nor of stars. I put myself on their level. I talked to them about bridge, and golf, and politics, and ties. And the grown-up would be glad to have met such a sensible man...

Chapter II

I have thus lived all alone, without anyone with which to really speak, until my plane had a breakdown in the Sahara desert, some six years ago.

Something was broken in my engine. And as I had with me neither a mechanic nor any passengers, I prepared myself to make the difficult repair job without any help. It was for me a question of life or death: I had hardly enough drinking water for one week.

The first night, I went to sleep on the sand, a thousand miles from any settlement. I was more isolated than a castaway on a raft in the middle of the ocean.

Thus, you can imagine my surprise when, at sunrise, a funny little voice woke me up. It said: “If you will... draw me a sheep!”


“Draw me a sheep...”

I jumped to my feet, as if I had been struck by lightning. I blinked my eyes rapidly. I had a good look around. And I saw quite an extraordinary little man, studying me gravely. Here is the best portrait that, later on, I was able to make of him.


However, my drawing is certainly very much less ravishing than the model. That is not my fault. At the age of six, I was discouraged in my career as a painter by the grown-ups. So I never learnt to draw anything, except boas from the outside and boas showing their insides.

I therefore stared at this apparition, my eyes wide with astonishment. Do not forget that I found myself a thousand miles from any inhabited region.

Despite this, my little man seemed not to be lost, nor to be dying from fatigue, nor of hunger, nor of thirst, and neither from fear. He showed no indication of being of a child lost in the middle of the desert, a thousand miles from any populated region.

When I finally managed to speak, I said to him: “But what are you doing here?” He then repeated to me, very slowly, as if it was very serious: “If you will... draw me a sheep...”

When a mystery is too overwhelming, one dare not disobey. As absurd as it seemed to me, a thousand miles from anywhere and in danger of dying, I nonetheless took from my pocket a sheet of paper and a pen.

But then I recalled that I had primarily studied geography, history, arithmetic and grammar, and I said to the little fellow (with a subtle hint of sarcasm) that I did not know how to draw.

He answered me: “That does not matter. Draw me a sheep...”

Since I had never drawn a sheep, I redrew one of the only two drawings of which I was capable. It was the outside of a boa constrictor. And I was stupefied to hear the little fellow respond:

“No! No! I do not want an elephant inside a boa constrictor. A boa is very dangerous, and an elephant is very cumbersome. My place is really small. I am in need of a sheep. Draw me a sheep.”

So I made a drawing. 

He looked at it attentively, and then: “No. This one is already very ill looking. Make me another one.”

I made another drawing. My friend smiled gently, with sympathy: “You can easily see... it is not a sheep, it is a ram. It has horns.”

So I redid my drawing yet again, but it was rejected like the previous ones. “This one is too old. I want a sheep that will live long time.”

So, lacking in patience — as I was keen to commence the disassembly of my motor — I scrawled this drawing, and said flippantly: “This here is the box. The sheep that you want is inside.”

However I was much surprised to see the face of my young judge light up: “That is exactly what I wanted. Do you think that this sheep needs of a lot of grass?”


“Because at my place everything is very small...”

“There will surely be sufficient. I have given you a very little sheep.”

He lowered his gaze towards the drawing. “Not so small that...Look! He is asleep...”

And so it was that I made the acquaintance of the little prince.

Chapter III

It took me a long time to find out where he came from. The little prince, who always posed so many questions, never seemed to hear mine. It was from words spoken offhandedly that, little by little, all was revealed to me.

So, when he saw my plane for the first time (I shall not draw my airplane; it is much too complicated a drawing for me), he demanded: “What is that thing there?”

“It is not a ‘thing’. It flies. It is an airplane. It is my airplane.” And I was proud to tell him that I could fly. Then he cried out: “What! You have fallen from the sky!”

“Yes,” said I, modestly.

“Oh! That is funny!” And the little prince had a very nice burst of laughter, which irritated me a lot. I prefer it that one takes my troubles seriously. Then he added:

“So you also come from the sky! From which planet are you?”

I suddenly caught a glint from the mystery of his presence, and demanded abruptly: “So you come from another planet?” But he did not reply.

He rocked his head gently, absorbed in looking at my plane: “It is true that you cannot have come from very far on that...” And he sank into a daydream which lasted a long time. Then, taking my sheep from his pocket, he plunged himself into contemplation of his treasure.

You can imagine how I was intrigued by this seeming confidence about ‘the other planets.’ So I endeavoured to learn some more:

“From where do you come, my little man? What is this ‘my place’? Where do you want to take my sheep?”

He responded after a meditative silence: “What is good, about the box that you have given me, is that at night it can serve as a house.”

“Certainly. And if you are good I will also give you a rope to tie him up during the day. And a picket as well.”

The proposition seemed to shock the little prince:  “Tie him? What a funny idea!”

“But if you do not tie him, he will go who knows where, and he will become lost...”

And my friend had a new round of laughter: “But where do you want him to go?”

“It matters not where; straight ahead of him...”

Then the little prince remarked gravely: “It is of no consequence, for my place is so little.” And, with perhaps a little melancholy: “Straight ahead, one cannot go very far...”

Chapter IV

I had thus learnt a second very importance detail: the planet where he came from was hardly bigger than a house! That would not have surprised me much.

I knew very well that as well as the great planets like Earth, Jupiter, Mars, and Venus — which we have given names — there are some hundreds of others. These are often times so tiny that one can even have a great deal of trouble seeing them through a telescope. When an astronomer discovers one of them, for a name he gives it a number. He calls it, for example, ‘Asteroid 325’.

I have serious reasons for believing that the planet where the little prince came from was asteroid B-612.

This asteroid has been perceived just one time through a telescope: in 1909, by a Turkish astronomer.

Afterwards, he made a grand demonstration of his discovery to an international congress on astronomy. But nobody believed him because of his costume. Grown-ups are like that.

Fortunately for the reputation of Asteroid B-612, a Turkish dictator made his people, under penalty of death, wear European clothes. The astronomer repeated his demonstration in 1920; he was dressed in a very elegant outfit; and this time everyone accepted his review.

If I have recounted these details about the asteroid B612, and if I have told you its number, it is because of grown-ups. Grown-ups love figures.

When you tell them of a new friend, they never question you about what is essential. They never say to you: “What is the sound of his voice like? What are the games that he prefers? Does he collect butterflies?”

They demand of you: “What age is he? How many brothers has he? How much does he weigh? How much does his father earn?” Only then will they think they learnt something about him.

If you say to the grown-ups: “I have seen a beautiful house in reddish brick, with some geraniums in the windows and some doves on the roof...” they could not imagine such a house.

One must say to them: “I have seen a house worth twenty thousand dollars.” Then they would cry out: “Oh how beautiful it is!”

Thus, if you say to them: “The proof that the little prince existed is that he was enchanting, that he laughed, and that he wanted a sheep. When one wants a sheep, that is proof enough that one exists.” They would simply shrug their shoulders and treat you like a child!

But if you say to them: “The planet from where he came from is Asteroid B-612,” then they would be convinced, and they would leave you in peace, without further questions. They are like that. One need not find them wanting. Children must be very patience with grown-ups.

But certainly, for us who understand life, we have little respect for numbers. I would have loved to commence this story in the fashion of a fairy-tale. I would have loved to say: “At one time there was a little prince who lived on a planet that was hardly bigger than himself, and he had need of a friend...”

For those who understand life, that would have would have appeared much more accurate — for I do not want anyone to take my book lightly. I have felt so much sorrow in putting down these memories.

It has already been six years since my friend went away with his sheep. If I try here to describe him, it is so as not to forget him. It is sad to forget a friend. Not everyone has had a friend. And, I may become like the grown-ups who are no longer interested in anything other than figures.

It is for this reason that I began anew: I purchased a box of crayons and some pencils.

It is tough to return to drawing, at my age — when, from the age of six, I have never attempted anything other than those of a boa from the outside and a boa showing its insides.

I will try, for sure, to make some portraits showing the most resemblance possible. But I am not assured of success. One drawing goes okay, and another has no likeness at all.

I am a little wrong also with his size: here the little prince is too big; there he is too small. I am hesitant also with the colour of his costume. So I fumble along — some go like this, and others go like that — for better or worse.

I deceive myself, as well, over some other important details. But for that you must excuse me. My friend never gave explanations. Perhaps he assumed I was like him. But as for me... unfortunately, I cannot see sheep through boxes.

I am perhaps a little like the grown-ups. I have become.

Chapter V

Each day I learnt something about his planet, and about the departure and voyage.

It came very slowly, by chance from his reflections.  It was thus that, on the third day, I learnt of the drama with baobabs. This time, once again, it was from the grace of the sheep. The little prince demanded brusquely, as if taken by a grave doubt: “it is true, is it not, that sheep eat bushes?”

“Yes. It is true.”

“Ah! I am glad!”

I did not understand why it was so important that sheep eat bushes. But the little prince added: “By consequence they also eat baobabs?”

I remarked to the little prince that baobabs are not bushes, but are rather, great trees like churches; and that even if he carried with him a whole herd of elephants, this herd would not defeat even a single baobab.

The idea of a herd of elephants made the little prince laugh: “One must stack them one on top of the other...” But he remarked sagely: “The baobabs... though being huge, they start out by being small.”

“Exactly! But why do you want sheep to munch on the little baobabs?”

He responded to me: “Well, come on!” as if it were obvious, and that I alone was supposed to make a great intellectual effort to understand this problem.

And in truth, on the little prince’s planet there were — as on all planets — some good plants, and some bad plants.

In consequence, there were good seeds from good plants, and bad seeds from bad plants. But seeds are invisible. They lie dormant in the depths of the earth, until it is that one of them takes a fancy to waking up:

it stretches, and then sprouts — first of all timidly — towards the sun, a delightful little harmless shoot.

If it is a shoot of a radish or a flower, one can let it grow as it likes. However if it is a bad plant, it is necessary to pull it out immediately: when one has just recognised it.

Now, there were some terrible seeds on the little prince’s planet... these were the seeds of the baobab. The soil of the planet was infested with them.

So, with a baobab, if one takes too long, one will no longer be able to get rid of it. It swallows up the entire planet. It drills with its roots; if the planet is too small, and if the baobabs are too many, they make it shatter.

“It is a question of discipline,” the little prince said to me a little later. “When you have finished your morning ablutions, you must thoroughly tend to those of the planet. You absolutely have to routinely pull up the baobab seedlings as soon as you can distinguish them from the other bushes — which they look a lot like when they are very young. It is very boring work, but also very easy.”

And, one day he suggested I apply myself to making a beautiful drawing: to put this into the heads of the children where I live. “If they travel one day, he said to me, it could serve them well. Sometimes, there is no problem in postponing your work. But, when it concerns the baobabs, the result is always a catastrophe. I knew of a planet inhabited by a lazy person. He neglected just three bushes...”

And, under the guidance of the little prince, I drew that planet.

I little like to take the tone of a moralist. But the danger from the baobabs is so little known, and the risks run by anyone who might get lost on an asteroid are so great, that, just this once, I will make an exception to my objection.

I say this: “Children! Pay attention to the baobabs!”

It is to warn my friends of the danger — which they, like myself, have unknowingly brushed aside for so long — that I have worked so hard on this drawing. The lesson that I give to them is worth the effort.

You may perhaps inquire: Why are there not, in this book, some other drawings as splendid as the one of the baobabs?

The response is very simple: I have tried, but I could not succeed. When I drew the baobabs I was inspired by a sense of urgency.

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