At that moment the fox appeared.
‘Hello,’ said the fox.
‘Hello,’ said the little prince gently, although when he turned around he saw nothing.
‘I am here,’ the voice said, ‘under the apple tree.’
‘Who are you?’ asked the little prince. ‘You are very pretty,’ he added.
‘I am a fox,’ said the fox.
‘Come and play with me,’ offered the little prince. ‘I am so unhappy.’
‘I cannot play with you,’ the fox said. ‘I am not tame.’
‘Oh! I’m sorry,’ said the little prince. But, after some thought, he added: ‘What does “tame” mean?’
‘You don’t live here,’ said the fox. ‘What are you searching for?’
‘I am searching for people,’ said the little prince. ‘What does “tame” mean?’
‘People!’ said the fox. ‘They have guns, and they hunt. It is quite a problem. They also breed chickens. That’s what they are interested in. Are you looking for chickens?’
‘No,’ said the little prince. ‘I am looking for friends. What does “tame” mean?’
‘It is something no one really thinks about,’ said the fox. ‘It means “to make a connection”.’
‘Make a connection?’
‘Correct,’ said the fox. ‘For me you are a little boy just like a hundred thousand other little boys. To you I am a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. We have no need of each other. But, if you were to tame me, then we would need each other. You would be unique to me, and I to you.’
‘I am beginning to understand,’ said the little prince. ‘There’s this flower … I think she has tamed me.’
‘It is possible,’ said the fox. ‘Here on Earth one sees all kinds of things.’
‘Oh, but it’s not on Earth!’ said the little prince.
The fox was very curious.
‘On another planet?’
‘Are there hunters on this planet?’
‘How intriguing! Are there any chickens?’
‘No place is perfect,’ sighed the fox.
‘My life is so dull,’ the fox continued. ‘I hunt chickens; men hunt me. All the chickens are identical. All the men are identical. As a result I’m thoroughly bored. But if you tame me, my life will light up. I’ll recognize your footsteps from all the others. While other’s footfalls drive me underground, yours will draw me out like music. Look there! Do you see the wheat fields? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. They remind me of nothing. And that is sad. But your hair is the colour of gold. Imagine how it will be when you have tamed me! I will see the golden wheat and think of you. And the wind whispering through the wheat stalks will make me happy.’
The fox paused and looked longingly at the little prince.
‘Please … tame me!’ he said.
‘I would really like to,’ the little prince replied. ‘But I have very little time. I have to look for friends and there is still so much to understand.’
‘You will understand what you tame,’ said the fox. ‘People have no time to understand anything anymore. They buy things readymade at the shops. But there is no store where you can buy friendship, and so, people have no friends anymore. If you are looking for a friend, you could tame me.’
‘What would I need to do?’ asked the little prince.
‘You have to be very patient,’ replied the fox. ‘First, sit some distance away from me on the grass. I will look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will be quiet. Words can cause misunderstandings. But each day you should come a little closer.’
The next day when the little prince returned, ‘You must come back at the same hour every day,’ said the fox. ‘If, for example, you decide to come at four o’clock in the afternoon, from three o’clock I will begin to feel happy. I will feel happier and happier as the hour advances. At four o’clock, I will start getting agitated. This way I will learn the price of happiness! But if you come at any odd time, I will never know when to be glad … We must have rituals.’
‘What is a ritual?’ asked the little prince.
‘It is also something no one really thinks about,’ said the fox. ‘Rituals make one day different from the other days, or one hour from the other. My hunters have a ritual. Every Thursday they dance with the village girls. So Thursday is the perfect day for me! I can take a walk right up to the vineyards. But if the hunters danced at any odd time, every day would be the same, and I would never get a day off.’
So the little prince tamed the fox. And when it was time for him to depart, ‘I am going to cry,’ said the fox.
‘The fault is your own,’ said the little prince. ‘I wished you no unhappiness, but you insisted that I tame you.’
‘Yes,’ said the fox.
‘But now you are going to cry!’ said the little prince.
‘Yes,’ said the fox.
‘So, it has done you no good!’
‘It has done me good — I can now appreciate the colour of the wheat fields.’
Then he added, ‘Go and look at the roses again. And it will be clear to you that yours is unique. Then come back to say goodbye to me, and I will give you for a gift a secret.’
The little prince left to look at the roses again.
‘You are not like my rose at all,’ he said to them. ‘You are not special yet. No one has tamed you, and you have tamed no one. My fox was like you. He was like a hundred thousand other foxes. But I have made him my friend, and now he is unique.’
And the roses felt quite uneasy.
‘You are beautiful, but you are hollow,’ he went on. ‘No one would give up their life for you. Of course an ordinary passerby would think that my rose looks just like you. But she’s more important than all of you – because I watered her, I sheltered her under a glass dome, and I protected her with a mesh. It was for her that I killed the caterpillars (except the two or three so she could see the butterflies). I have listened to her complaining, grumbling, boasting and even to her silence. Because she is my rose.’
And he went back to see the fox. ‘Goodbye,’ he said.
‘Goodbye,’ said the fox. ‘Here is my secret, it’s a simple secret: it is only through your heart that you can see clearly. The eyes do not see that which is most important.’
‘The eyes do not see that which is most important,’ the little prince repeated, so that he would remember.
‘It is the time you have spent with your rose that makes your rose so important.’
‘It is the time I have spent with my rose …’ repeated the little prince, so that he wouldn’t forget.
‘People ignore this simple truth,’ said the fox. ‘But you must not. You are forever responsible for those you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose.’
‘I am responsible for my rose …’ the little prince repeated, so that he would remember.