was drinking the last drop of my water supply.
“Ah,” I said to the little prince, “these memories of yours are very charming; but I have not yet succeeded in repairing my plane; I have nothing more to drink; and I, too, should be very happy if I could walk at my leisure toward a spring of fresh water!”
“My friend the fox-” the little prince said to me.
“My dear little man, this is no longer a matter that has anything to do with the fox!”
“Because I am about to die of thirst…”
He did not follow my reasoning, and he answered me: “It is a good thing to have a friend, even if one is about
to die. I, for instance, am very glad to have a fox as a friend…” “He has no way of guessing the danger,” I said to myself. “He has never been either hungry or thirsty. A little
sunshine is all that he needs…”
But he looked at me steadily, and replied to my thought:
“I am thirsty, too. Let us look for a well…”
I made a gesture of weariness. It is absurd to look for a well, at random, in the immensity of the desert. But nevertheless we started walking.
When we had trudged along for several hours, in silence, the darkness fell, and the stars began to come out. Thirst had made me a little feverish, and I looked at them as if I were in a dream. The little prince’s last words came reeling back into my memory:
“Then you are thirsty, too?” I demanded.
But he did not reply to my question. He merely said to
“Water may also be good for the heart…”
I did not understand this answer, but I said nothing. I
knew very well that is 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 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 the 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 the 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 is invisible…”
As his lips opened slightly with the suspicion 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.
“People,” said the little prince, “set out on their way in express trains, but they do not know what they are looking for. Then they rush about, and get excited, and turn round and round…”
And he added:
“It is not worth the trouble…”
The well that we had come to was not like the wells of the Sahara. The wells of the Sahara are mere holes dug in the sand. This one was like a well in a village. But there was no village here, and I thought I must be dreaming…
“It is strange,” I said to the little prince. “Everything is ready for use: the pulley, the bucket, the rope…”
He laughed, touched the rope, and set the pulley to working. And the pulley moaned, like an old weathervane which the wind has long since forgotten.
“Do you hear?” said the little prince. “We have wakened the well, and it is singing…”
I did not want 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 drink…”