soon learned to know this flower better. On the
little prince's planet the flowers had always
been very simple. They had only one ring of petals;
they took up no room at all; they were a trouble
to nobody. One morning they would appear in the
grass, and by night they would have faded peacefully
away. But one day, from a seed blown from no one
knew where, a new flower had come up; and the
little prince had watched very closely over this
small sprout which was not like any other small
sprouts on his planet. It might, you see, have
been a new kind of baobab.
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 colors with the greatest care. She
dressed herself slowly. 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
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
"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
"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,
"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
"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 . . ."