CHAPTER 17 – EARTH
The seventh planet was the Earth. The Earth is not just another planet. There are a hundred and eleven kings, seven thousand geographers, nine hundred thousand businessmen, seven and a half million drunk men, three hundred and eleven million men who need to be admired, all together about two billion adults.
I want to give you an idea of the size of the Earth. Before the invention of electricity, it was necessary to keep an army of four hundred and sixty-two thousand, five hundred and eleven lamplighters. These lamplighters had to look after all the street lamps on six continents.
When you looked at the Earth from some distance, you could see a wonderful effect. This army moved like the dancers in the opera who come on stage and then leave one by one in perfect order.
The lamplighters of New Zealand and Australia came first. They turned on their lamps. Then the lamplighters of China and Siberia came, then the lamplighters of Russia and India, then those of Africa and Europe, then those of South America and of North America. And they never made a mistake. They always came in the right order. It was wonderful.
Only the lamplighter of the single lamp at the North Pole, and his colleague of the single lamp at the South Pole, had easy lives. They worked twice a year.
When I speak about the lamplighters, you can think that there are many people on the planet Earth. Now I want to tell you more about people on Earth. They occupy very little space.
If the two billion people on Earth stood close together, they could be easily put in one square. The square would be twenty miles long and twenty miles wide. You could put all people on a small Pacific island.
Of course, adults will not believe you. They think that they occupy a lot of space. They think that they are as important as the baobabs. You can tell them to make their own calculation. They love numbers and they will enjoy it.
But don’t waste your time on this extra work. It’s not necessary. Trust me.
When the little prince arrived on Earth, he was quite surprised when he didn’t see any people.
He started to fear that he came to the wrong planet, but then he saw something move in the sand.
“Good evening,” said the little prince.
“Good evening,” said the snake.
“What planet am I on?” asked the little prince.
“On the planet Earth, in Africa,” the snake said.
“Ah, are there no people on Earth?”
“This is the desert. There are no people in the desert. The Earth is very big,” said the snake.
The little prince sat down on a rock, and he looked at the stars.
“I want to know,” he said, “if each person can find his own star one day. Look at my planet. It’s just above us. But how far it is.”
“It’s beautiful,” the snake said. “Why did you come here?”
“I had some problems with a flower,” said the little prince.
“Ah!” said the snake. And they were both silent.