CHAPTER 14 – BUSINESSMAN
The little prince visits the fourth planet. There is a businessman on this planet. He is very busy. He is so busy that he doesn’t look at the little prince when the little prince comes.
“Good morning,” says the little prince. “Your cigarette is finished.”
“Three and two make five. Five and seven make twelve. Twelve and three make fifteen. Hello. Fifteen and seven make twenty-two. Twenty-two and six make twenty-eight. I have no time to light the cigarette again.
Twenty-six and five make thirty-one. It is five hundred and one million, six hundred and twenty-two thousand, seven hundred and thirty-one.”
“Five hundred million what?” asks the little prince.
“Are you still here? Five hundred and one million… I don’t remember. I have so much work to do! I am a serious man. I don’t want to lose my time with things which are not important. Two and five make seven…”
“Five hundred million what?” repeats the little prince. He wants the answer to his question.
The businessman looks at the little prince, “I am fifty-four years old. I don’t like when somebody stops my work. It doesn’t happen often. I remember only three times.
The first time, twenty-two years ago. A bird falls on my table. The bird makes a horrible sound. And I make four mistakes in my calculation.
The second time, eleven years ago, I have rheumatism. I don’t have enough exercise. I don’t have time for such activity. I am a serious man.
The third time is now! Where am I? Five hundred and one million…”
The businessman understands that if he wants to have peace, he has to answer this question.
“Millions of those little things which you sometimes see in the sky.”
“No, not flies.”
“No. The little golden things. Lazy people like them because they can dream when they look at them. But I am a serious man! I have no time to dream.”
“Yes, the stars.”
“And what do you do with five hundred million stars?”
“Five hundred and one million, six hundred and twenty-two thousand, seven hundred and thirty-one. I am a serious person. I need numbers which are correct.”
“And what do you do with those stars?”
“Nothing. I own them.”
“You own the stars?”
“But I know a king who…”
“Kings don’t own. They control. It is very different.”
“And why is it good to own stars?”
“When I own stars, I am rich.”
“And why is it good to be rich?”
“When I am rich, then I can buy more stars if somebody discovers them.”
“But how can you own the stars?”
“It is simple. Who owns them?” asks the businessman.
“I don’t know. Nobody.”
“Then I own them because I am the first person who has this idea.”
“Is it enough?”
“Of course. When you find a diamond, it is your diamond. When you discover an island, it is your island. When you have a new idea, you patent it and it is your idea. Now I own the stars because I am the first person who has this idea.”
“It is true,” says the little prince. “And what do you do with them?”
“I look at them. I count them and I count them again,” says the businessman. “It is difficult. But I am a serious man!
The little prince wants to know more.
“If I own a jacket, I can put the jacket on me and I can take it with me. If I own a flower, I can pick the flower and take the flower with me. But you can’t pick the stars!”
“No, but I can keep them in the bank.”
“How can you do it?”
“It is easy. I write the number of my stars on a little paper. And then I put the paper in the bank.”
“And it is enough?”
“It is enough,” says the businessman.
“It is funny,” thinks the little prince. “But it is not very serious.”
The little prince says to the businessman, “I own a flower. I give her water every day. I own three volcanoes. I clean the volcanoes every week. I also clean the volcano which isn’t active. You never know. It is good for my volcanoes. It is good for my flower that I own her. I help my flower and I help my volcanoes. But you don’t help the stars.
The businessman opens his mouth but he can’t find words.
And the little prince leaves.
“The adults are very interesting,” he thinks when he continues on his journey.