Friday, 30 June 2006
CONWAY, Ark. -- The worms in Phyllis Smith's garden are trying to tell her something.
They're saying "hi."
Phyllis Smith has found herself losing the battle against the worms. She recently found a fruit with a message on it, clearly written by one of the unwanted guests.
"We got down and was pruning and got down there and just pulled open those tomato vines," Smith said. "There was a message that that bold bug had left on that tomato, and it said, 'hi.' And it just blew our minds. I laughed so hard."
Three men have staged a naked protest in Brazil - against football.
They walked round the city naked while locals watched Brazil's match against Ghana.
The men staged their protest as they disagree with how "the whole country stops to watch the football matches at the World Cup but meanwhile the enourmous problems Brazil has in lack of education and health keep getting stronger."
I love this bit ....
A local police spokesperson said: "Someone called us to check this out but it was not a violent crime and we were watching the match so we decided not to do anything about it.
"They only wanted to get attention, but they couldn't even get this as everyone was watching the match."
Thursday, 29 June 2006
They have now posted a follow up story (Here:) and have offered 'ahem … sincerest apologies to the 174,304 visitors who have read the story in the last week and thought it was a new design.' I for one think it is very commendable of them to admit to their mistake.
They have even posted a link to Eric's blog and recommended, as I have, that you should at least check out the daily piccie. So check out their site also Here: it has loads of interesting and informative stories about 'Emerging Technology'.
Count Antoine Marie Roger de Saint-Exupéry was born in Lyon into an old family of provincial nobility, the third of five children of Count Jean de Saint-Exupéry, an insurance broker who died when his famous son was three, and his wife, Marie de Foscolombe.
After failing his final exams at a preparatory school, he entered the École des Beaux-Arts to study architecture. In 1921, he began his military service in the 2nd Regiment of Chasseurs, and was sent to Strasbourg for training as a pilot. The next year, he obtained his license and was offered a transfer to the air force. But his fiancée's family objected, so he settled in Paris and took an office job. His engagement was ultimately broken off, however, and he worked at several jobs over the next few years without success. He later became engaged to the future novelist Louise Leveque de Vilmorin.
By 1926, he was flying again. He became one of the pioneers of international postal flight in the days when aircraft had few instruments and pilots flew by instinct. Later he complained that those who flew the more advanced aircraft were more like accountants than pilots. He worked on the Aéropostale between Toulouse and Dakar. His first tale L'Aviateur (The Aviator) was published in the magazine Le Navire d'argent. In 1928, he published his first book, Courrier-Sud (Southern Mail), and flew the Casablanca/Dakar route. He became the director of Cape Juby airfield in Río de Oro, Western Sahara. In 1929, Saint-Exupéry moved to South America, where he was appointed director of the Aeroposta Argentina Company.First flight cover: carried and signed by Saint-Exupéry on first official Comodoro Rivadavia - Trelew airmail flight. Addressed to P(aul) Vachet, operations manager of the Argentine company before Saint-Exupéry. October 31, 1929.
In 1931, at Grasse, Saint-Exupéry married Consuelo Suncin Sandoval Zeceña of Gómez, a twice-widowed writer and Salvadorian artist. Theirs was a stormy union as Saint-Exupéry travelled frequently and indulged in numerous affairs.
Saint-Exupéry kept writing and flying until the beginning of World War II. During the war, he initially flew in the French GC II/33 reconnaissance squadron. He then escaped to New York City, and lived in Quebec City for a time in 1942. After his time in North America, Saint-Exupéry returned to Europe to fly with the Free French and fight with the Allies in a squadron based in the Mediterranean. Then aged 44, he flew his last mission to collect data on German troop movements in the Rhone River Valley. He took off the night of July 31, 1944, and was never seen again. A lady reported having seen a plane crash around noon of August 1 near the Bay of Carqueiranne. A body wearing a French uniform was found several days later and was buried in Carqueiranne that September.
In 1998, a fisherman found what was reported to be Saint-Exupéry's silver chain bracelet in the ocean to the east of the island of Riou, south of Marseille. At first it was thought a hoax, but it was later positively identified. It was engraved with the names of his wife and his publishers, Reynal & Hitchcock, and was hooked to a piece of fabric from his pilot's suit.
On April 7, 2004, investigators from the French Underwater Archaeological Department confirmed that the twisted wreckage of a Lockheed F-5 photo-reconnaissance aircraft (a version of the P-38 Lightning fighter aircraft), found on the seabed off the coast of Marseille in 2000 and extracted in October 2003, was Saint-Exupéry's. The discovery is akin to solving the mystery of where Amelia Earhart's plane went down in the Pacific Ocean in 1937. However, the cause of the crash remains a mystery. Today it is regarded as very improbable that Saint-Exupéry was shot down by a German pilot (in spite of the bragging of a German airman who later claimed so). The German aerial combat records of July 31, 1944 do not list any shooting down in the Mediterranean that day. Besides, the wreckage of Saint-Exupéry's F-5 did not show any traces of shooting or aerial combat, therefore it is regarded as most probable that the crash was caused by a technical failure.
A fuller account of his life can be read here:
Outside Magazine, August 2004
To go down in the ocean is certain, if not entirely disagreeable, death. (Drowning, Saint-Exupéry will later tell a reporter, would be his choice of endings: "You don't feel yourself dying. You simply feel as if you're falling asleep and beginning to dream.") But at this point in his career, ardently in love with the adventure of flying the mail back and forth over the blazing Sahara, Saint-Exupéry is not ready for death. Better to ditch in the desert, as he has been forced to do many times before. Shipwrecked in a sea of sand, you have some chance of rescue before you either die of thirst or are captured or killed by Saharan tribesmen.
Soon they are sailing through a miasma of clouds and fog. Néri is passing notes to Saint-Exupéry. "No bearings. No bearings." The pilot is left to navigate on passion and instinct—traits fortuitously acute in this airman. (One colleague will later say, "When the flight is normal, Saint-Exupéry is dangerous; given complications, he's brilliant.") These are the daring early years of aviation; one mail pilot has died almost every month. Humans have been crossing deserts by camel for millennia, sailing seas for a thousand years, climbing mountains for a hundred—the sky is the last great terra incognita for adventurers.
The wood-and-metal airplane, a French-made Latécoère 26, is plummeting through a void. Up could be halfway down or three-quarters sideways. The compass needle jerks erratically, the fuselage shudders, the wings creak. Néri has begun to pray. Saint-Exupéry steers the aircraft and dreams of the calming familiarities of earth. Laughter. A bowl of hot milk and coffee in a Moroccan café.
He has had multiple near misses, most of them in his primitive Breguet 14, a slow, ungainly biplane he flew for about a decade. It had no real nose but rather a flat forehead plugged with a giant wooden propeller. The Breguet 14's singular redeeming attribute was a noble resoluteness founded upon mechanical simplicity. With a control panel hardly more sophisticated than that of a Ford Model T, it would still fly with a broken tail, flopping wing, or coughing engine. Saint-Exupéry, an intuitive mechanic, crash-landed the Breguet many times, repairing its Renault 300-horsepower engine with a hammer and screwdriver, and then lifting right back into the sky. (Years afterward he would elegize the obsolescence of the Breguet 14. For him, there was no charm in modern airplanes. They were soulless rockets, and flying one was a "bureaucratic affair . . . a life without surprises.")
There was an uncanny resemblance between the pilot and his favorite airship. On the ground, in old black-and-white photos, both the Breguet 14 and Saint-Exupéry appear bulky and awkward. Saint-Exupéry was a head taller than most men, clumsy and uncomfortable in his bearlike form. (In his 1942 book Flight to Arras, a nonfiction account of the fall of France in WWII, Saint-Exupéry described his body as a "flunky" that he was required to dress, bathe, and feed. "It is in your act that you exist, not in your body.") Unkempt, two thick fingers pinching a hand-rolled cigarette, a quizzical expression on his face, Saint-Exupéry, despite the regal name, was patently unheroic in appearance, an outsized man who might have been mistaken for a provincial baker.
But put the hulking Frenchman into the cockpit of a plane and send them into the sky together, and a transformation occurred. The wings became extensions of Saint-Exupéry's arms, the cables became his tendons, the enormous, fallible engine his own thundering heart. Man and machine became one—a graceful, athletic, airborne organism. "The machine does not isolate man from the great problems of nature," Saint-Exupéry wrote, "but plunges him more deeply into them." Suddenly, in the black night sky, a pinprick of light is spotted off the nose of the plane. It must be the beacon of an airport! Néri bursts into song from sheer relief. Saint-Exupéry swings the craft toward the tiny light.
Then it vanishes.
Another diamond of light springs from the murk. Néri believes it can only be the Cisneros airport, in Spanish Sahara. He radios a request that the airport flash the light three times. The incandescent speck they are pursuing doesn't so much as blink. Saint-Exupéry has been chasing stars. "And with that we knew ourselves to be lost in interplanetary space among a thousand inaccessible planets," he writes in his 1939 memoir Wind, Sand and Stars, "we who sought only one veritable planet, our own, that planet on which alone we should find our familiar countryside, the houses of our friends, our treasures."
Believing their fuel now depleted, they prepare to drop to earth, to crash into the savage Sahara. But then a radio call from their base in Toulouse, France, reaches them, providing bearings and a reprieve: "Your reserve tank bigger than standard. You have two hours' fuel left. Proceed to Cisneros."
Once again Saint-Exupéry escapes disaster through some ineffable alliance of luck and faith, ability and hubris. It's the story of his life, and the reason why his death, a decade later, would haunt his readers and admirers for years.
EN ROUTE FROM LYON, in southern France, flying across the Ligurian Sea to Corsica, the plane was lost. It was a beautiful day in late July 1944, and the world was at war for the second time in as many generations. The pilot, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, now the famous author of seven books, was returning from an unarmed, solo reconnaissance mission to the Rhône Valley.
Patriotic to the marrow, Saint-Exupéry had, through utter force of personality, managed to inveigle himself a dangerous flying assignment for the Allies, despite the fact that he was 44 years old and showing the strains of a tumultuous life. Over the past 15 years he had survived innumerable airplane crashes, but two in particular had left lasting scars: a smashup en route to Egypt in 1935, followed by a five-day, 125-mile trek across the Libyan desert, in which he nearly died of thirst; and an accident in Guatemala that caused serious head wounds and a half-dozen broken bones. Add to these wrecks the tender disaster of a difficult marriage. Worse, the boundless wild world he had known as a mail pilot in West Africa—where survival was dependent on ingenuity, improvisation, and pluck—was gone.
Now, bent on helping liberate France at all costs, Saint-Exupéry was flying a highly sophisticated aircraft he detested and only marginally understood. The American-made Lockheed Lightning P-38's control panel had 148 knobs and dials and was one of the fastest planes of its time. On almost every previous sortie in the P-38, he had experienced potentially fatal problems—engine failure or malfunction, a wing fire, near asphyxiation from a faulty oxygen mask. He had flown low over enemy territory and inexplicably survived. He had been pursued by enemy fighters and barely escaped. Like fuel leaking from a bullet hole in a wing tank, the good luck Saint-Exupéry had once had as a young mail pilot was dribbling away.
He took off at 8:30 a.m. from Bastia, on the northeastern coast of Corsica, due back in four hours. He didn't return. By 2:30 he would have been out of fuel. At 3:30 he was reported missing and presumed dead.
For more than half a century, friends, family, reporters, and writers opined on how Saint-Exupéry might have died. Perhaps he experienced engine trouble and crashed in the Alps. Perhaps he was shot down over the Mediterranean. Perhaps he failed to properly use the oxygen equipment and blacked out. Even suicide was suggested, an act inconsistent with the pattern and pride of his life: Saint-Exupéry was willing to die for his country, but only at the hands of the enemy or the elements.
It is hard to imagine a more poignant and fitting way for Saint-Exupéry to have left this planet than by vanishing into oblivion. This is precisely what happens to the boy in his best-known work, The Little Prince, a slim autobiographical parable published in 1943 and since translated into 80 languages. "You understand . . . it is too far. I cannot carry this body with me," the title character, a phantasmal spirit of adventure, says. "It is too heavy. But it will be like an old abandoned shell. There is nothing sad about old shells." And with that, there is a "flash of yellow close to his ankle," and the Little Prince evaporates.
Last fall, 59 years after Saint-Exupéry's enigmatic disappearance, the wreckage of a P-38 was discovered a mile and a half off the southern coast of France near Marseille. Winched up from the mud of the Mediterranean, it was positively identified in April as Saint-Exupéry's aircraft. The discovery placed boundaries on the mystery but did not solve it: No trace of his remains was found.
Still, the precise circumstances of Saint-Exupéry's death are insignificant. Stacy Schiff, author of the 1994 Saint-Exupéry: A Biography, believes it could have been pilot error. "But does it really matter?" asked Schiff when I spoke to her recently, and then she answered herself: "No. All reconnaissance pilots ran huge risks. His death was a matter of probability. What is so thrilling was Saint-Exupéry's life, a ragged, glorious series of close calls."
The Little Prince
TO LEON WERTH
I ask the indulgence of the children who may read this book for dedicating it to a grown-up. I have a serious reason: he is the best friend I have in the world. I have another reason: this grown-up understands everything, even books about children. I have a third reason: he lives in France where he is hungry and cold. He needs cheering up. If all these reasons are not enough, I will dedicate the book to the child from whom this grown-up grew. All grown-ups were once children--although few of them remember it. And so I correct my dedication:
TO LEON WERTH
WHEN HE WAS A LITTLE BOY
In the book it said: "Boa constrictors swallow their prey whole, without chewing it. After that they are not able to move, and they sleep through the six months that they need for digestion." I pondered deeply, then, over the adventures of the jungle. And after some work with a colored pencil I succeeded in making my first drawing. My Drawing Number One. It looked like this:
I showed my masterpiece to the grown-ups, and asked them whether the drawing frightened them. But they answered: "Frighten? Why should any one be frightened by a hat?" My drawing was not a picture of a hat. It was a picture of a boa constrictor digesting an elephant. But since the grown-ups were not able to understand it, I made another drawing: I drew the inside of the boa constrictor, so that the grown-ups could see it clearly. They always need to have things explained. My Drawing Number Two looked like this:
The grown-ups' response, this time, was to advise me to lay aside my drawings of boa constrictors, whether from the inside or the outside, and devote myself instead to geography, history, arithmetic and grammar. That is why, at the age of six, I gave up what might have been a magnificent career as a painter. I had been disheartened by the failure of my Drawing Number One and my Drawing Number Two. Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.
So then I chose another profession, and learned to pilot airplanes. I have flown a little over all parts of the world; and it is true that geography has been very useful to me. At a glance I can distinguish China from Arizona. If one gets lost in the night, such knowledge is valuable. In the course of this life I have had a great many encounters with a great many people who have been concerned with matters of consequence. I have lived a great deal among grown-ups. I have seen them intimately, close at hand. And that hasn't much improved my opinion of them.
Whenever I met one of them who seemed to me at all clear-sighted, I tried the experiment of showing him my Drawing Number One, which I have always kept. I would try to find out, so, if this was a person of true understanding. But, whoever it was, he, or she, would always say: "That is a hat." Then I would never talk to that person about boa constrictors, or primeval forests, or stars. I would bring myself down to his level. I would talk to him about bridge, and golf, and politics, and neckties. And the grown-up would be greatly pleased to have met such a sensible man.
So I lived my life alone, without anyone that I could really talk to, until I had an accident with my plane in the Desert of Sahara, six years ago. Something was broken in my engine. And as I had with me neither a mechanic nor any passengers, I set myself to attempt the difficult repairs all alone. It was a question of life or death for me: I had scarcely enough drinking water to last a week.
The first night, then, I went to sleep on the sand, a thousand miles from any human habitation. I was more isolated than a shipwrecked sailor on a raft in the middle of the ocean. Thus you can imagine my amazement, at sunrise, when I was awakened by an odd little voice.
It said: "If you please, draw me a sheep!"
"Draw me a sheep!"
I jumped to my feet, completely thunderstruck. I blinked my eyes hard. I looked carefully all around me. And I saw a most extraordinary small person, who stood there examining me with great seriousness. Here you may see the best potrait that, later, I was able to make of him. But my drawing is certainly very much less charming than its model.
That, however, is not my fault. The grown-ups discouraged me in my painter's career when I was six years old, and I never learned to draw anything, except boas from the outside and boas from the inside.
Now I stared at this sudden apparition with my eyes fairly starting out of my head in astonishment. Remember, I had crashed in the desert a thousand miles from any inhabited region. And yet my little man seemed neither to be straying uncertainly among the sands, nor to be fainting from fatigue or hunger or thirst or fear. Nothing about him gave any suggestion of a child lost in the middle of the desert, a thousand miles from any human habitation.
When at last I was able to speak, I said to him: "But, what are you doing here?" And in answer he repeated, very slowly, as if he were speaking of a matter of great consequence:
"If you please, draw me a sheep..."
When a mystery is too overpowering, one dare not disobey. Absurd as it might seem to me, a thousand miles from any human habitation and in danger of death, I took out of my pocket a sheet of paper and my fountain-pen. But then I remembered how my studies had been concentrated on geography, history, arithmetic, and grammar, and I told the little chap (a little crossly, too) that I did not know how to draw. He answered me: "That doesn't matter. Draw me a sheep..." But I had never drawn a sheep. So I drew for him one of the two pictures I had drawn so often. It was that of the boa constrictor from the outside. And I was astounded to hear the little fellow greet it with, "No, no, no! I do not want an elephant inside a boa constrictor. A boa constrictor is a very dangerous creature, and an elephant is very cumbersome. Where I live, everything is very small. What I need is a sheep. Draw me a sheep.
So then I made a drawing. He looked at it carefully, then he said: "No. This sheep is already very sickly. Make me another." So I made another drawing. My friend smiled gently and indulgenty. "You see yourself," he said, "that this is not a sheep. This is a ram. It has horns.
So then I did my drawing over once more. But it was rejected too, just like the others. "This one is too old. I want a sheep that will live a long time.
By this time my patience was exhausted, because I was in a hurry to start taking my engine apart. So I tossed off this drawing. And I threw out an explanation with it.
I was very surprised to see a light break over the face of my young judge:
"That is exactly the way I wanted it! Do you think that this sheep will have to have a great deal of grass?"
"Because where I live everything is very small..."
"There will surely be enough grass for him," I said.
"It is a very small sheep that I have given you."
He bent his head over the drawing: "Not so small that, Look! He has gone to sleep..."
And that is how I made the acquaintance of the little prince.
It took me a long time to learn where he came from. The little prince, who asked me so many questions, never seemed to hear the ones I asked him. It was from words dropped by chance that, little by little, everything was revealed to me.
The first time he saw my airplane, for instance (I shall not draw my airplane; that would be much too complicated for me), he asked me: "What is that object?"
"That is not an object. It flies. It is an airplane. It is my airplane." And I was proud to have him learn that I could fly. He cried out, then: "What! You dropped down from the sky?"
"Yes," I answered, modestly.
"Oh! That is funny!" And the little prince broke into a lovely peal of laughter, which irritated me very much. I like my misfortunes to be taken seriously.
Then he added: "So you, too, come from the sky! Which is your planet?" At that moment I caught a gleam of light in the impenetrable mystery of his presence; and I demanded, abruptly: "Do you come from another planet?" But he did not reply. He tossed his head gently, without taking his eyes from my plane: "It is true that on that you can't have come from very far away..." And he sank into a reverie, which lasted a long time. Then, taking my sheep out of his pocket, he buried himself in the contemplation of his treasure.
You can imagine how my curiosity was aroused by this half-confidence about the "other planets." I made a great effort, therefore, to find out more on this subject.
"My little man, where do you come from? What is this 'where I live,' of which you speak? Where do you want to take your sheep?"
After a reflective silence he answered: "The thing that is so good about the box you have given me is that at night he can use it as his house."
"That is so. And if you are good I will give you a string, too, so that you can tie him during the day, and a post to tie him to."
But the little prince seemed shocked by this offer: "Tie him! What a queer idea!"
"But if you don't tie him," I said, "he will wander off somewhere, and get lost."
My friend broke into another peal of laughter: "But where do you think he would go?" "Anywhere. Straight ahead of him."
Then the little prince said, earnestly: "That doesn't matter. Where I live, everything is so small!" And, with perhaps a hint of sadness, he added: "Straight ahead of him, nobody can go very far..."
I had thus learned a second fact of great importance: this was that the planet the little prince came from was scarcely any larger than a house! But that did not really surprise me much. I knew very well that in addition to the great planets, such as the Earth, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, to which we have given names, there are also hundreds of others, some of which are so small that one has a hard time seeing them through the telescope.
When an astronomer discovers one of these he does not give it a name, but only a number. He might call it, for example, "Asteroid 325."
I have serious reason to believe that the planet from which the little prince came is the asteroid known as B-612. This asteroid has only once been seen through the telescope. That was by a Turkish astronomer, in 1909.
On making his discovery, the astronomer had presented it to the International Astronomical Congress, in a great demonstration. But he was in Turkish costume, and so nobody would believe what he said.
Grown-ups are like that...
Fortunately, however, for the reputation of Asteroid B-612, a Turkish dictator made a law that his subjects, under pain of death, should change to European costume. So in 1920 the astronomer gave his demonstration all over again, dressed with impressive style and elegance. And this time everybody accepted his report.
If I have told you these details about the asteroid, and made a note of its number for you, it is on account of the grown-ups and their ways. When you tell them that you have made a new friend, they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you, "What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies?" Instead, they demand: "How old is he? How many brothers has he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make?"
Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him.
If you were to say to the grown-ups: "I saw a beautiful house made of rosy brick, with geraniums in the windows and doves on the roof," they would not be able to get any idea of that house at all.
You would have to say to them: "I saw a house that cost $ 20,000." Then they would exclaim: "Oh, what a pretty house that is!" Just so, you might say to them: "The proof that the little prince existed is that he was charming, that he laughed, and that he was looking for a sheep. If anybody wants a sheep, that is a proof that he exists." And what good would it do to tell them that? They would shrug their shoulders, and treat you like a child. But if you said to them: "The planet he came from is Asteroid B-612," then they would be convinced, and leave you in peace from their questions. They are like that. One must not hold it against them. Children should always show great forbearance toward grown-up people. But certainly, for us who understand life, figures are a matter of indifference.
I should have liked to begin this story in the fashion of the fairy-tales. I should have like to say: "Once upon a time there was a little prince who lived on a planet that was scarcely any bigger than himself, and who had need of a sheep..."
To those who understand life, that would have given a much greater air of truth to my story. For I do not want any one to read my book carelessly. I have suffered too much grief in setting down these memories. Six years have already passed since my friend went away from me, with his sheep. If I try to describe him here, it is to make sure that I shall not forget him. To forget a friend is sad. Not every one has had a friend. And if I forget him, I may become like the grown-ups who are no longer interested in anything but figures... It is for that purpose, again, that I have bought a box of paints and some pencils.
It is hard to take up drawing again at my age, when I have never made any pictures except those of the boa constrictor from the outside and the boa constrictor from the inside, since I was six. I shall certainly try to make my portraits as true to life as possible. But I am not at all sure of success. One drawing goes along all right, and another has no resemblance to its subject. I make some errors, too, in the little prince's height: in one place he is too tall and in another too short. And I feel some doubts about the color of his costume. So I fumble along as best I can, now good, now bad, and I hope generally fair-to-middling. In certain more important details I shall make mistakes, also. But that is something that will not be my fault. My friend never explained anything to me. He thought, perhaps, that I was like himself. But I, alas, do not know how to see sheep through the walls of boxes. Perhaps I am a little like the grown-ups. I have had to grow old.
As each day passed I would learn, in our talk, something about the little prince's planet, his departure from it, his journey. The information would come very slowly, as it might chance to fall from his thoughts. It was in this way that I heard, on the third day, about the catastrophe of the baobabs.
This time, once more, I had the sheep to thank for it. For the little prince asked me abruptly, as if seized by a grave doubt,
"It is true, isn't it, that sheep eat little bushes?"
"Yes, that is true."
"Ah! I am glad!"
I did not understand why it was so important that sheep should eat little bushes. But the little prince added:
"Then it follows that they also eat baobabs?"
I pointed out to the little prince that baobabs were not little bushes, but, on the contrary, trees as big as castles; and that even if he took a whole herd of elephants away with him, the herd would not eat up one single baobab.
The idea of the herd of elephants made the little prince laugh. "We would have to put them one on top of the other," he said. But he made a wise comment:
"Before they grow so big, the baobabs start out by being little."
"That is strictly correct," I said. "But why do you want the sheep to eat the little baobabs?"
He answered me at once, "Oh, come, come!", as if he were speaking of something that was self-evident. And I was obliged to make a great mental effort to solve this problem, without any assistance.
Indeed, as I learned, there were on the planet where the little prince lived, as on all planets, good plants and bad plants. In consequence, there were good seeds from good plants, and bad seeds from bad plants. But seeds are invisible. They sleep deep in the heart of the earth's darkness, until some one among them is seized with the desire to awaken. Then this little seed will stretch itself and begin, timidly at first, to push a charming little sprig inoffensively upward toward the sun. If it is only a sprout of radish or the sprig of a rose-bush, one would let it grow wherever it might wish. But when it is a bad plant, one must destroy it as soon as possible, the very first instant that one recognizes it.
Now there were some terrible seeds on the planet that was the home of the little prince; and these were the seeds of the baobab. The soil of that planet was infested with them. A baobab is something you will never, never be able to get rid of if you attend to it too late. It spreads over the entire planet. It bores clear through it with its roots. And if the planet is too small, and the baobabs are too many, they split it in pieces...
"It is a question of discipline," the little prince said to me later on.
"When you've finished your own toilet in the morning, then it is time to attend to the toilet of your planet, just so, with the greatest care. You must see to it that you pull up regularly all the baobabs, at the very first moment when they can be distinguished from the rosebushes which they resemble so closely in their earliest youth. It is very tedious work," the little prince added, "but very easy." And one day he said to me: "You ought to make a beautiful drawing, so that the children where you live can see exactly how all this is. That would be very useful to them if they were to travel some day.
Sometimes," he added, "there is no harm in putting off a piece of work until another day. But when it is a matter of baobabs, that always means a catastrophe.
I knew a planet that was inhabited by a lazy man. He neglected three little bushes...
So, as the little prince described it to me, I have made a drawing of that planet. I do not much like to take the tone of a moralist. But the danger of the baobabs is so little understood, and such considerable risks would be run by anyone who might get lost on an asteroid, that for once I am breaking through my reserve. "Children," I say plainly, "watch out for the baobabs!" My friends, like myself, have been skirting this danger for a long time, without ever knowing it; and so it is for them that I have worked so hard over this drawing.
The lesson which I pass on by this means is worth all the trouble it has cost me. Perhaps you will ask me, "Why are there no other drawing in this book as magnificent and impressive as this drawing of the baobabs?" The reply is simple. I have tried. But with the others I have not been successful. When I made the drawing of the baobabs I was carried beyond myself by the inspiring force of urgent necessity.
"I am very fond of sunsets. Come, let us go look at a sunset now."
"But we must wait," I said.
"Wait? For what?"
"For the sunset. We must wait until it is time."
At first you seemed to be very much surprised. And then you laughed to yourself. You said to me:
"I am always thinking that I am at home!"
Just so. Everybody knows that when it is noon in the United States the sun is setting over France.
If you could fly to France in one minute, you could go straight into the sunset, right from noon. Unfortunately, France is too far away for that. But on your tiny planet, my little prince, all you need do is move your chair a few steps. You can see the day end and the twilight falling whenever you like...
"One day," you said to me, "I saw the sunset forty-four times!"
And a little later you added:
"You know-- one loves the sunset, when one is so sad..."
"Were you so sad, then?" I asked, "on the day of the forty-four sunsets?"
But the little prince made no reply.
"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 naïve. 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!"
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 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 colours with the greatest care. 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.
And, 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--"
And 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..."
"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 naïve untruth, she coughed two or three times, in order to put the little prince in the wrong.
"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."
And 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..."
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 realised 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."
"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, naïvely, 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...
The first of them was inhabited by a king. Clad in royal purple and ermine, he was seated upon a throne which was at the same time both simple and majestic.
"Ah! Here is a subject," exclaimed the king, when he saw the little prince coming.
And the little prince asked himself:
"How could he recognize me when he had never seen me before?"
He did not know how the world is simplified for kings. To them, all men are subjects.
"Approach, so that I may see you better," said the king, who felt consumingly proud of being at last a king over somebody.
The little prince looked everywhere to find a place to sit down; but the entire planet was crammed and obstructed by the king's magnificent ermine robe. So he remained standing upright, and, since he was tired, he yawned.
"It is contrary to etiquette to yawn in the presence of a king," the monarch said to him. "I forbid you to do so."
"I can't help it. I can't stop myself," replied the little prince, thoroughly embarrassed. "I have come on a long journey, and I have had no sleep..."
"Ah, then," the king said. "I order you to yawn. It is years since I have seen anyone yawning. Yawns, to me, are objects of curiosity. Come, now! Yawn again! It is an order."
"That frightens me... I cannot, any more..." murmured the little prince, now completely abashed.
"Hum! Hum!" replied the king. "Then I-- I order you sometimes to yawn and sometimes to--"
He sputtered a little, and seemed vexed.
For what the king fundamentally insisted upon was that his authority should be respected. He tolerated no disobedience. He was an absolute monarch. But, because he was a very good man, he made his orders reasonable.
"If I ordered a general," he would say, by way of example, "if I ordered a general to change himself into a sea bird, and if the general did not obey me, that would not be the fault of the general. It would be my fault."
"May I sit down?" came now a timid inquiry from the little prince.
"I order you to do so," the king answered him, and majestically gathered in a fold of his ermine mantle.
But the little prince was wondering... The planet was tiny. Over what could this king really rule?
"Sire," he said to him, "I beg that you will excuse my asking you a question--"
"I order you to ask me a question," the king hastened to assure him.
"Sire-- over what do you rule?"
"Over everything," said the king, with magnificent simplicity.
The king made a gesture, which took in his planet, the other planets, and all the stars.
"Over all that?" asked the little prince.
"Over all that," the king answered.
For his rule was not only absolute: it was also universal.
"And the stars obey you?"
"Certainly they do," the king said. "They obey instantly. I do not permit insubordination."
Such power was a thing for the little prince to marvel at. If he had been master of such complete authority, he would have been able to watch the sunset, not forty-four times in one day, but seventy-two, or even a hundred, or even two hundred times, with out ever having to move his chair. And because he felt a bit sad as he remembered his little planet which he had forsaken, he plucked up his courage to ask the king a favor:
"I should like to see a sunset... do me that kindness... Order the sun to set..."
"If I ordered a general to fly from one flower to another like a butterfly, or to write a tragic drama, or to change himself into a sea bird, and if the general did not carry out the order that he had received, which one of us would be in the wrong?" the king demanded. "The general, or myself?"
"You," said the little prince firmly.
"Exactly. One much require from each one the duty which each one can perform," the king went on. "Accepted authority rests first of all on reason. If you ordered your people to go and throw themselves into the sea, they would rise up in revolution. I have the right to require obedience because my orders are reasonable."
"Then my sunset?" the little prince reminded him: for he never forgot a question once he had asked it.
"You shall have your sunset. I shall command it. But, according to my science of government, I shall wait until conditions are favorable."
"When will that be?" inquired the little prince.
"Hum! Hum!" replied the king; and before saying anything else he consulted a bulky almanac. "Hum! Hum! That will be about-- about-- that will be this evening about twenty minutes to eight. And you will see how well I am obeyed."
The little prince yawned. He was regretting his lost sunset. And then, too, he was already beginning to be a little bored.
"I have nothing more to do here," he said to the king. "So I shall set out on my way again."
"Do not go," said the king, who was very proud of having a subject. "Do not go. I will make you a Minister!"
"Minister of what?"
"Minster of-- of Justice!"
"But there is nobody here to judge!"
"We do not know that," the king said to him. "I have not yet made a complete tour of my kingdom. I am very old. There is no room here for a carriage. And it tires me to walk."
"Oh, but I have looked already!" said the little prince, turning around to give one more glance to the other side of the planet. On that side, as on this, there was nobody at all...
"Then you shall judge yourself," the king answered. "that is the most difficult thing of all. It is much more difficult to judge oneself than to judge others. If you succeed in judging yourself rightly, then you are indeed a man of true wisdom."
"Yes," said the little prince, "but I can judge myself anywhere. I do not need to live on this planet.
"Hum! Hum!" said the king. "I have good reason to believe that somewhere on my planet there is an old rat. I hear him at night. You can judge this old rat. From time to time you will condemn him to death. Thus his life will depend on your justice. But you will pardon him on each occasion; for he must be treated thriftily. He is the only one we have."
"I," replied the little prince, "do not like to condemn anyone to death. And now I think I will go on my way."
"No," said the king.
But the little prince, having now completed his preparations for departure, had no wish to grieve the old monarch.
"If Your Majesty wishes to be promptly obeyed," he said, "he should be able to give me a reasonable order. He should be able, for example, to order me to be gone by the end of one minute. It seems to me that conditions are favorable..."
As the king made no answer, the little prince hesitated a moment. Then, with a sigh, he took his leave.
"I made you my Ambassador," the king called out, hastily.
He had a magnificent air of authority.
"The grown-ups are very strange," the little prince said to himself, as he continued on his journey.