Getting To Know The Flowers Better...
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 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
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
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
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
Then she forced her cough a little more so that he shoud
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...”
Chapter 8 of
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s
The Little Prince