The Little Prince & the Fox
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
From the book
“The Little Prince” – “Le Petit Prince”
It was then that the fox appeared.
“Good day,' said the fox.
“Good day,' replied the little prince politely, looking up but unable to see anything.
“Over here,' said the voice, 'under the apple tree.”
“Who are you?' said the little prince. 'You're very pretty.”
“I'm a fox,' said the fox.
“Come and play with me,' suggested the little prince.'I'm terribly sad.”
“I can't play with you,' said the fox. 'I am not tame.”
“Oh! I beg your pardon,' said the little prince.
Then, after a moment's thought, he added:
“What does "tame" mean ?”
“You are not from these parts,' said the fox.'What are you looking for?”
“I'm looking for people. What does "tame" mean ?”
“People,' said the fox, 'they have guns, and they hunt.
It's a great nuisance! They also raise chickens. That is the only interesting thing about them. Are you looking chickens?”
“No,' said the little prince. 'I am looking for friends. What does "tame" mean?”
“Something that is frequently neglected,' said the fox. 'It meam "to create ties".”
“To create ties?”
“Precisely,' said the fox. 'To me, you are still only a small boy, just like a hundred thousand other small boys. And I have no need of you. And you in turn have no need of me.
To you, I'm just a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes.
But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you shall be unique in the world. To you, I shall be unique in the world.”
“I'm beginning to understand,' said the little prince. 'I know a flower... I think she must have tamed me...”
“Quite possible,' said the fox. 'On this Earth one sees all manner of things.”
“Oh! But that was not on Earth,' said the little prince.
The fox looked rather intrigued.
“On another planet, then?”
“I see. Are there huntsmen, on this other planet?”
“How interesting. And chickens?”
“Nothing is perfect,' sighed the fox.
But he resumed his train of thought:
“My life is very monotonous. I run after the chickens; the men run after me. All the chickens are the same, and all the men are the same. Consequently, I get a little bored. but if you tame me, my days will be as if filled with sunlight. I shall know a sound of footstep different from all the rest. Other steps make me run to earth. Yours will call me out of my foxhole like music. And besides, look over there! You see the fields of corn ? Well, I don't eat bread. Corn is of no use for me. Corn fields remind me of nothing. Which is sad! On the other hand, your hair is the colour of gold. So think how wonderful it will be when you have tamed me. The corn, which is golden, will remind me you. And I shall come to love the sound of the wind in the field of corn...."
The fox fell silent and looked steadily at the little prince for a long time.
“Please,' he said, 'tame me!”
“I should like to,' replied the little prince, 'but I don't have much time. I have friends to discover and many things to understand.”
“One only ever understands what one tames. People no longer have the time to understand anything. They buy everything ready-made from the shops. but there is no shop where friends can be bought, so people no longer have friends. If you want a friend, tame me!”
“What do I have to do?' said the little prince.
“You have to be very patient,' replied the fox. 'First, you will sit down a short distance away from me, like that, in the grass. I shall watch you out of the corner of my eye and you will say nothing; words are the source of misunderstandings. But each day you may sit a little closer to me.”
The next day the little prince came back.
“It would have been better to come back at the same time of the day,'said the fox. 'For instance, if you come at four in the afternoon, when three o'clock strikes I shall begin to feel happy. The closer our time approaches, the happier I shall feel. By four o'clock I shall already be getting agitated and worried; I shall be discovering that happiness has its price! But if you show up at any old time, I'll never know when to start dressing my hearth for you... We all need rituals.”
“What is a ritual?' said the little prince.
“Something else that is frequently neglected,' said the fox.
It's what makes one day different from the other days, one hour different from the other hours. There is a ritual, for example, among my huntsmen. On Thursdays they dance with the village girls. So Thursday is a wonderful day for me! I can take a stroll as far as the vineyard. If the huntsmen went dancing at any old time, the days would all be the same, and I should never have a holiday.”
So the little prince tamed the fox. And when the time for him to leave was approaching:
“Oh!' said the fox. 'I am going to cry,”
“It's your own fault,' said the little prince. 'I never wished you any harm; but you wanted me to tame you...”
“I know,' said the fox.
“And now you are going to cry!' said the little prince.
“I know,' said the fox.
“So you have gained nothing from it at all!”
“Yes, I have gained something,' said the fox, 'because of the colour of the corn.”
Then he added:
“Go and look at the roses again. You will understand that yours is, after all, unique in the world. Then come back and say goodbye to me; as a present I will tell you a secret.”
The little prince went off to look at the roses again.
“You are nothing like my rose,' he told them. 'As yet you are nothing at all. Nobody has tamed you, and you have tamed nobody. You are as my fox used to be. he was just a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But I made him my friend and now he is unique in the world.”
And the roses felt very unconfortable.
“You are beautiful, but you are empty,' he went on.
“One could not die for you. Of course, an ordinary passer-by would think my rose looked just like you. But in herself she matters more than all of you together, since it is she that I watered; since it is she that I placed under the glass dome; since it is she that I sheltered with the screen; since it is she whose caterpillars I killed (except the two or three we saved up to become butterflies). Since it is she that I linstened to, when she complained, or boasted, or when she was simply being silent. Since it is she who is my rose.”
And he went back to the fox:
“Goodbye,' he said.
“Goodbye,' said the fox. 'Now here is my secret, very simply: you can only see things clearly with your heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
“What is essential is invisible to the eye,' repeated the little prince, so as to remember.
“It is the time you have wasted on your rose that makes your rose so important.”
“It is the time I have wasted on my rose...' repeated the little prince, so as to remember.
“People have forgotten this truth,' said the fox. 'But you must not forget. You become responsible, for ever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose.”
“I am responsible for my rose ...' the little prince repeated, so as to remember.