The Little Prince: Chapter 8

I soon learned more about the flower. Flowers were simple things on the little prince’s planet and took up very little room. They only had a single ring of petals and were not at all demanding. They would appear in the grass one morning and fade away peacefully by evening. But one day, a seed that had blown in from some other place, gave birth to a new type of shoot and the little prince watched over it very closely. What if it was some new kind of baobab! But the shrub soon stopped growing, and began to produce a flower. At the first appearance of a huge bud, the little prince felt he was in the presence of a miracle. But the flower took her time in its green sacntuary, getting ready to emerge. She chose her colours thoughtfully. She adjusted her petals one by one. After all, she did not wish to appear crumpled like a poppy. She wished to materialize in all her beauty. Oh was she proud! And these secret preparations lasted for many days. Then at sunrise one morning, she showed herself.

She yawned and said: ‘I am barely awake. Forgive me, my petals are such a mess.’

But the little prince was full of admiration: ‘Oh! How beautiful you are!’

‘Am I not?’ the flower responded sweetly. ‘And I was born along with the sun.’

The little prince could tell that she wasn’t exactly humble. But she was just so wonderful!

‘Is it not time for breakfast?’ she asked a moment later. ‘If you would kindly think of my needs …’ Feeling embarrassed, the little prince went to look for a sprinkling can and gave her some fresh, cool water.

Very soon, she began to trouble him with her rather thorny pride. For instance, while speaking of her four thorns, she said to the little prince: ‘Let the tigers show their claws!’

‘We have no tigers on this planet,’ the little prince pointed out. ‘And, anyway, tigers do not eat weeds.’

‘I am not a weed,’ was the flower’s gentle reply.

‘I’m sorry.’

‘I am not at all afraid of tigers,’ she went on, ‘but I am horrified of gales. Would you have a screen for me?’

‘Horrified of gales! That’s not good luck for a plant,’ the little prince thought to himself. ‘This flower is a complicated creature.’

‘You need to place me under a dome at night. This planet is cold. Where I come from …’

She stopped mid-sentence. She had come from a seed and could not have known about any other world. Embarrassed that her little lie had been exposed, she coughed a few times, to make the little prince feel bad for her. ‘What happened to the screen?’

‘I was going to look for it but you were still speaking to me!’

Then she forced another cough, so as to make him feel sorry.

So, even though the little prince loved her and would do anything for her, he was now wary of her. Her harsh words had upset him and he felt miserable.

‘I shouldn’t have paid any heed to her words,’ he confided to me. ‘You mustn’t listen to flowers. You should simply admire them and enjoy their fragrance. My flower sweetened my planet with her scent, but I could find no pleasure in it. Her chatter about the claws, that so irritated me, should have made me feel bad for her instead.’

He continued: ‘I made a mistake! I should have judged her by her deeds and not by her words. She filled my world with light and her perfume. I should not have run away. I should have noticed that she cared underneath all her games. Flowers are incomprehensible! Or maybe I wasn’t old enough to know how to love her.’