CHAPTER 5 – ELEPHANTS
It has been six years since my friend went away with his sheep. If I try to describe him here, it is because I don’t want to forget him. It’s sad to forget a friend. Not everyone has had a friend. And if I forget him, I can become like the adults who are only interested in numbers.
So that’s why I bought a box of paints and some pencils. It’s hard to go back to drawing, at my age, when no other attempt has ever been made except those of the big snake from the outside and the big snake from the inside.
I will try, of course, to make my portraits as true to life as possible. But I’m not quite sure if I’m going to succeed. One drawing is alright, and another doesn’t look like what I was trying to draw. I make some errors on the size too. Here the little prince is too tall. Here he is too short. I also feel some doubts about the colour of his clothes. But I will try to do my best.
In some other details I will make mistakes too. But here you have to forgive me. It’s not my fault. My friend never explained anything to me. Maybe he thought I was like him. But I, unfortunately, don’t know how to see the sheep through the walls of a box. Maybe, I am a little like the adults. I have probably grown old.
Every day I learnt something about the little prince’s planet, about his departure from it, about his journey. The information came very slowly, usually during moments when the little prince was thinking about his past.
On the third day, I learnt about the problem with the baobabs. Baobabs are big trees. I learnt about the problem thanks to a question about the sheep that the little prince suddenly asked me. It looked like the question came from a sad thought.
“Is it true that sheep eat little bushes?”
“Yes. That’s true.”
“Ah! I am glad.”
I didn’t understand why it was so important that the sheep ate little bushes. But the little prince added,
“So they also eat baobabs?”
I told the little prince that baobabs aren’t little bushes, right the opposite, they are trees as large as churches. And that even if he took a whole herd of elephants back to his planet that herd couldn’t eat one single baobab.
The idea of the herd of elephants made the little prince laugh, “We would have to put them one on top of the other.”
But he made a wise comment, “The baobabs, before they grow so big, they begin by being small.”
“That’s right,” I said. “But why do you want your sheep to eat the little baobabs?”
He replied, “Oh, come on! You know,” as if we were talking about something quite obvious. And then it was up to me to use my intelligence and solve the problem, without any assistance.