CHAPTER 15 – LAMP
The fifth planet is very interesting. It is a very small planet. There is only a lamp and a lamplighter on this planet.
The little prince doesn’t understand why there is a lamp and a lamplighter on the planet. There is enough light because the planet is under many stars. There are no other people on the planet who need a lamp.
The little prince thinks, “This man is strange. But he is less strange than the king, the businessman or the drunk man. His work makes the world more beautiful.
When he turns on his lamp, it is like a new star in the sky, or new flower. When he turns off his lamp, he sends the flower, or the star to sleep. It is a beautiful job. And because it is beautiful, it is a good job.”
When the little prince comes on the planet, he says to the lamplighter, “Good morning. Why do you turn on and turn off your lamp?”
“It is an order,” says the lamplighter. And he turns off the lamp.
“What is the order?”
“The order is to turn on and turn off my lamp. Good evening.” And he turns on his lamp again.
“But why do you do it so often?”
“It is the order,” says the lamplighter.
I don’t understand,” says the little prince.
“It is simple,” says the lamplighter. “The order is the order. Good morning.”
And he turns off his lamp. Then he says, “It is a terrible job now. I remember better days in the past. I turn off the lamp in the morning. In the evening I turn on the lamp again. I have all the day for me, and at night I can sleep.”
“And is the order different now?”
“The order is the same,” says the lamplighter. “It is the problem! Year by year the planet is turning faster and faster. And the order is still the same!
Now the planet turns around every minute. And I have no time to sleep. I turn on and I turn off my lamp every minute.”
“It is funny! Your day is only one minute long.”
“It is not funny,” says the lamplighter. “Our conversation is already one month long.”
“Yes. Thirty minutes. Thirty days. Good evening.” And he turns on his lamp again.
The little prince watches the lamplighter. He likes more and more this man who follows the order. He wants to help his new friend.
“I can show you how you can stop your work.”
“I always want to stop my work,” says the lamplighter.
The little prince continues, “Your planet is so small that you can walk around it in three long steps. You only have to walk more slowly. And you can always be in the sun. When you want to stop your work, only walk. And you never have to work again.”
“How can this help me?” says the lamplighter. “The one thing which I love in life is to sleep.”
“Then you are not lucky,” says the little prince.
“I am not lucky,” says the lamplighter. “Good morning.” And he turns off his lamp.
The little prince continues on his journey. He thinks, “The other men, the king, the drunk man, the businessman can laugh at this lamplighter. But he is better than the other men. It is because he cares about something else, not only his things.
This man can be my friend. But his planet is too small. There is no place for two people.”
The little prince doesn’t want to say the real reason why he doesn’t want to leave this planet. He doesn’t want to leave because the planet has one thousand four hundred and forty sunsets every twenty-four hours!