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 recognise 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
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.
“Over everything?” 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 favour:
“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
“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
“You shall have your sunset. I shall command it. But, according to my science of government, I
shall wait until conditions are favourable.”
“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
“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
favourable...” 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.
The second planet was inhabited by a conceited man.
“Ah! Ah! I am about to receive a visit from an admirer!” he exclaimed from afar, when he first
saw the little prince coming. For, to conceited men, all other men are admirers.
“Good morning,” said the little prince. “That is a queer hat you are wearing.”
“It is a hat for salutes,” the conceited man replied. “It is to raise in salute when people acclaim
me. Unfortunately, nobody at all ever passes this way.”
“Yes?” said the little prince, who did not understand what the conceited man was talking about.
“Clap your hands, one against the other,” the conceited man now directed him. The little prince
clapped his hands. The conceited man raised his hat in a modest salute. “This is more entertaining
than the visit to the king,” the little prince said to himself. And he began again to clap his hands,
one against the other. The conceited man against raised his hat in salute. After five minutes of
this exercise the little prince grew tired of the game’s monotony. “And what should one do to
make the hat come down?” he asked. But the conceited man did not hear him. Conceited people
never hear anything but praise.
“Do you really admire me very much?” he demanded of the little prince. “What does that mean,
“To admire means that you regard me as the handsomest, the best-dressed, the richest, and the
most intelligent man on this planet.” “But you are the only man on your planet!” “Do me this
kindness. Admire me just the same.”
“I admire you,” said the little prince, shrugging his shoulders slightly, “but what is there in that to
interest you so much?”
And the little prince went away. “The grown-ups are certainly very odd,” he said to himself, as he
continued on his journey.
The next planet was inhabited by a tippler.
This was a very short visit, but it plunged the little prince into deep dejection. “What are you
doing there?” he said to the tippler, whom he found settled down in silence before a collection of
empty bottles and also a collection of full bottles.
“I am drinking,” replied the tippler, with a lugubrious air.
“Why are you drinking?” demanded the little prince.
“So that I may forget,” replied the tippler. “Forget what?” inquired the little prince, who already
was sorry for him.
“Forget that I am ashamed,” the tippler confessed, hanging his head.
“Ashamed of what?” insisted the little prince, who wanted to help him.
“Ashamed of drinking!” The tippler brought his speech to an end, and shut himself up in an
And the little prince went away, puzzled. “The grown-ups are certainly very, very odd,” he said to
himself, as he continued on his journey.
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 realised 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.” “Flies?” “Oh,
no. Little glittering objects.” “Bees?” “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
“And what do you do with these stars?” “What do I do with them?” “Yes.” “Nothing. I own them.”
“You own the stars?” “Yes.” “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
“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.
The fifth planet was very strange. It was the smallest of all. There was just enough room on it for
a street lamp and a lamplighter.
The little prince was not able to reach any explanation of the use of a street lamp and a
lamplighter, somewhere in the heavens, on a planet, which had no people, and not one house.
But he said to himself, nevertheless: “It may well be that this man is absurd. But he is not so
absurd as the king, the conceited man, the businessman, and the tippler. For at least his work has
some meaning. When he lights his street lamp, it is as if he brought one more star to life, or one
flower. When he puts out his lamp, he sends the flower, or the star, to sleep. That is a beautiful
occupation. And since it is beautiful, it is truly useful.”
When he arrived on the planet he respectfully saluted the lamplighter.
“Good morning. Why have you just put out your lamp?”
“Those are the orders,” replied the lamplighter. “Good morning.”
“What are the orders?”
“The orders are that I put out my lamp. Good evening.” And he lighted his lamp again. “But why
have you just lighted it again?”
“Those are the orders,” replied the lamplighter.
“I do not understand,” said the little prince.
“There is nothing to understand,” said the lamplighter. “Orders are orders. Good morning.” And
he put out his lamp.
Then he mopped his forehead with a handkerchief decorated with red squares.
“I follow a terrible profession. In the old days it was reasonable. I put the lamp out in the morning,
and in the evening I lighted it again. I had the rest of the day for relaxation and the rest of the
night for sleep.”
“And the orders have been changed since that time?”
“The orders have not been changed,” said the lamplighter. “That is the tragedy! From year to
year the planet has turned more rapidly and the orders have not been changed!”
“Then what?” asked the little prince.
“Then the planet now makes a complete turn every minute, and I no longer have a single second
for repose. Once every minute I have to light my lamp and put it out!”
“That is very funny! A day lasts only one minute, here where you live!”
“It is not funny at all!” said the lamplighter. “While we have been talking together a month has
“Yes, a month. Thirty minutes. Thirty days. Good evening.” And he lighted his lamp again. As the
little prince watched him, he felt that he loved this lamplighter who was so faithful to his orders.
He remembered the sunsets, which he himself had gone to seek, in other days, merely by pulling
up his chair; and he wanted to help his friend.
“You know,” he said, “I can tell you a way you can rest whenever you want to...”
“I always want to rest,” said the lamplighter. For it is possible for a man to be faithful and lazy at
the same time.
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