CHAPTER 16 – GEOGRAPHER
The sixth planet is bigger than the last planet. The little prince sees an old gentleman. The man writes big books.
“Oh, here comes an explorer,” he says when he sees the little prince.
The little prince sits down on the table. He is tired from travelling so long and so far.
“Where do you come from?” the old gentleman asks him.
“What is this big book?” asks the little prince. “What are you doing here?”
“I am a geographer,” the old gentleman answers.
“What is a geographer?”
“A geographer is somebody who knows where the seas are, and rivers, cities, mountains and deserts.”
“It is very interesting,” says the little prince. “Finally here is a man who has a real job,” he thinks. And he looks around at the geographer’s planet.
“Your planet is very beautiful,” he says. “Does it have any oceans?”
“I can’t say,” says the geographer.
“Ah!” the little prince is sad. “And mountains?”
“I can’t say,” says the geographer.
“And cities and rivers and deserts?”
“I can’t tell you,” says the geographer.
“But you are a geographer!”
“It is true,” says the geographer, “but I am not an explorer. There is no explorer on my planet. The geographer doesn’t discover cities, rivers, mountains, seas, oceans and deserts.
The geographer doesn’t have time for travelling. He doesn’t leave his office. But the explorers visit him in his office. He asks them questions and he writes what they remember.
And if the information is interesting to him, then the geographer has to ask more questions about the explorer. He has to know if the explorer is a good person.”
The little prince wants to know why the explorer has to be a good person.
The geographer says, “An explorer who is a bad person can give information which is not correct. And also an explorer who drinks very much can give bad information.”
“Why?” asks the little prince.
“Because drunk people don’t see correctly. Then the geographer can draw two mountains in a place where there is only one.”
“I know somebody,” says the little prince, “who drinks a lot. He can be a bad explorer.”
“It is possible. So when the explorer is a good person, then I have to check if his information is correct.”
“Do you visit the place?”
“No. It is too complicated. But the explorer has to give me proof. For example, if he knows about a big mountain, the explorer has to bring some stone from the mountain.”
Then the geographer smiles. “But you come from very far! You are an explorer! You must tell me about your planet!”
The geographer opens his big book. He prepares his pen.
“Tell me about your home,” says the geographer.
“Oh, where I live,” says the little prince,” it is not very interesting. It is very small. I have three volcanoes. Two volcanoes are active, and one volcano isn’t active. But you never know.”
“You never know,” says the geographer.
“I also have a flower.”
“We don’t write about flowers,” says the geographer.
“Why not? The flower is the most beautiful thing on my planet!”
“Because flowers don’t live very long. In geography we have very correct books. Our books are almost always true. A mountain usually doesn’t change its position. An ocean usually doesn’t lose its water. We write about things which are here for a long time.”
“But volcanoes which aren’t active can be active again,” says the little prince.
“If volcanoes are active or not, it is the same for us,” says the geographer. “A volcano is a mountain. It is important. A mountain doesn’t change. Your flower is different. Your flower can be gone soon.”
“My flower can be gone soon?”
“My flower can be gone soon,” thinks the little prince, “and she has only four thorns for protection! And she is home alone!”
The little prince is sad. But he wants to continue on his journey. “What is an interesting place to visit?” he asks.
“The planet Earth,” the geographer answers. “It is a nice planet.”
And the little prince continues on his way. He is still thinking about his flower.