CHAPTER 14 – BUSINESSMAN
The little prince visited the fourth planet. There was a businessman on this planet. He was so busy that he didn’t even look at the little prince when the little prince arrived.
“Good morning,” said 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 it again.
Twenty-six and five make thirty-one. Wow! It’s five hundred and one million, six hundred and twenty-two thousand, seven hundred and thirty-one.”
“Five hundred million what?” asked the little prince.
“Eh? Are you still there? 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 unimportant things. Two and five make seven…”
“Five hundred million what?” repeated the little prince who never in his life let go a question when he asked it.
The businessman looked at him, “For the fifty-four years I was disturbed only three times.
The first time it was twenty-two years ago, by a bird which fell on my desk. The bird made a terrible noise, and I made four mistakes in my calculation.
The second time, eleven years ago, I was disturbed by rheumatism. I don’t have enough exercise. I have no time for such unproductive activity. I’m a serious man.
The third time is now! Where was I? Five hundred and one million…”
The businessman understood that if he wanted to have peace, he had to answer this question.
“Millions of those little things which you sometimes see in the sky.”
“No, not flies.”
“Oh, 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 exact numbers.”
“And what do you do with those stars?”
“What do I do with them?”
“Nothing. I own them.”
“You own the stars?”
“But I already saw a king who…”
“Kings don’t own. They control. It’s 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’m rich, then I can buy more stars, if somebody discovers them.”
“But how can you own the stars?”
“It’s simple. Who owns them?” asked the businessman who was already quite angry.
“I don’t know. Nobody.”
“Then I own them because I was the first person to think of it.”
“Of course. When you find a diamond, it’s yours. When you discover an island, it’s yours. When you have a new idea, you patent it and it’s yours. Now I own the stars because I was the first who thought of it.”
“That’s true,” said the little prince. “And what do you do with them?”
“I look at them. I count them and count them again,” said the businessman. “It’s difficult. But I’m a serious man!
The little prince wanted to know more.
“If I own a scarf, I can put it around my neck and take it with me. If I own a flower, I can pick it and take it with me. But you can’t pick the stars!”
“No, but I can keep them in the bank.”
“How can you do that?”
“It’s easy. I write the number of my stars on a little paper. And then I put the paper to the bank.”
“And that’s all?”
“That’s enough,” said the businessman.
“It’s funny,” thought the little prince. “But it’s not very serious.”
The little prince had very different ideas about serious things.
“I own a flower,” he continued. “I water her every day. I own three volcanoes. I clean them every week. I even clean the volcano which isn’t active. You never know. It’s useful to my volcanoes, and it’s useful to my flower that I own them. But you’re not useful to the stars.
The businessman opened his mouth but couldn’t find anything to say.
And the little prince left.
“The adults are very interesting,” he said to himself when he continued on his journey.