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Chapter 4

- the narrator speculates as to which asteroid from which the little prince came 
I had thus learned a second fact of great importance: this was that the planet the little prince came from was scarcely any larger than a house!
But that did not really surprise me much. I knew very well that in addition to the great planets-- such as the Earth, Jupiter, Mars, Venus-- to which we have given names, there are also hundreds of others, some of which are so small that one has a hard time seeing them through the telescope. When an astronomer discovers one of these he does not give it a name, but only a number. He might call it, for example, "Asteroid 325."
I have serious reason to believe that the planet from which the little prince came is the asteroid known as B-612.
This asteroid has only once been seen through the telescope. That was by a Turkish astronomer, in 1909.
On making his discovery, the astronomer had presented it to the International Astronomical Congress, in a great demonstration. But he was in Turkish costume, and so nobody would believe what he said.
Grown-ups are like that...
Fortunately, however, for the reputation of Asteroid B-612, a Turkish dictator made a law that his subjects, under pain of death, should change to European costume. So in 1920 the astronomer gave his demonstration all over again, dressed with impressive style and elegance. And this time everybody accepted his report.
If I have told you these details about the asteroid, and made a note of its number for you, it is on account of the grown-ups and their ways. When you tell them that you have made a new friend, they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you, "What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies?" Instead, they demand: "How old is he? How many brothers has he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make?" Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him.
If you were to say to the grown-ups: "I saw a beautiful house made of rosy brick, with geraniums in the windows and doves on the roof," they would not be able to get any idea of that house at all. You would have to say to them: "I saw a house that cost $20,000." Then they would exclaim: "Oh, what a pretty house that is!"
Just so, you might say to them: "The proof that the little prince existed is that he was charming, that he laughed, and that he was looking for a sheep. If anybody wants a sheep, that is a proof that he exists." And what good would it do to tell them that? They would shrug their shoulders, and treat you like a child. But if you said to them: "The planet he came from is Asteroid B-612," then they would be convinced, and leave you in peace from their questions. They are like that. One must not hold it against them. Children should always show great forbearance toward grown-up people.
But certainly, for us who understand life, figures are a matter of indifference. I should have liked to begin this story in the fashion of the fairy-tales. I should have like to say: "Once upon a time there was a little prince who lived on a planet that was scarcely any bigger than himself, and who had need of a sheep..."
To those who understand life, that would have given a much greater air of truth to my story.
For I do not want any one to read my book carelessly. I have suffered too much grief in setting down these memories. Six years have already passed since my friend went away from me, with his sheep. If I try to describe him here, it is to make sure that I shall not forget him. To forget a friend is sad. Not every one has had a friend. And if I forget him, I may become like the grown-ups who are no longer interested in anything but figures...
It is for that purpose, again, that I have bought a box of paints and some pencils. It is hard to take up drawing again at my age, when I have never made any pictures except those of the boa constrictor from the outside and the boa constrictor from the inside, since I was six. I shall certainly try to make my portraits as true to life as possible. But I am not at all sure of success. One drawing goes along all right, and another has no resemblance to its subject. I make some errors, too, in the littl e prince's height: in one place he is too tall and in another too short. And I feel some doubts about the color of his costume. So I fumble along as best I can, now good, now bad, and I hope generally fair-to-middling.
In certain more important details I shall make mistakes, also. But that is something that will not be my fault. My friend never explained anything to me. He thought, perhaps, that I was like himself. But I, alas, do not know how to see sheep through t he walls of boxes. Perhaps I am a little like the grown-ups. I have had to grow old.

    我还了解到另一件重要的事,就是他老家所在的那个星球比一座房子大不了多少。
    这倒并没有使我感到太奇怪。我知道除地球、木星、火星、金星这几个有名称的大行星以外,还有成百个别的星球,它们有的小得很,就是用望远镜也很难看见。当一个天文学者发现了其中一个星星,他就给它编上一个号码,例如把它称作“325小行星”。
    我有重要的根据认为小王子所来自的那个星球是小行星B612。这颗小行星仅仅在1909年被一个土耳其天文学家用望远镜看见过一次。
    当时他曾经在一次国际天文学家代表大会上对他的发现作了重要的论证。但由于他所穿衣服的缘故,那时没有人相信他。那些大人们就是这样。
    幸好,土耳其的一个独裁者,为了小行星B612的声誉,迫使他的人民都要穿欧式服装,否则就处以死刑。1920年,这位天文学家穿了一身非常漂亮的服装,重新作了一次论证。这一次所有的人都同意他的看法。
    我给你们讲关于小行星B612的这些细节,并且告诉你们它的编号,这是由于这些大人的缘故。这些大人们就爱数目字。当你对大人们讲起你的一个新朋友时,他们从来不向你提出实质性的问题。他们从来不讲:“他说话声音如何啊?他喜爱什么样的游戏啊?他是否收集蝴蝶标本呀?”他们却问你:“他多大年纪呀?弟兄几个呀?体重多少呀?他父亲挣多少钱呀?”他们以为这样才算了解朋友。如果你对大人们说:“我看到一幢用玫瑰色的砖盖成的漂亮的房子,它的窗户上有天竺葵,屋顶上还有鸽子…”他们怎么也想象不出这种房子有多么好。必须对他们说:“我看见了一幢价值十万法郎的房子。”那么他们就惊叫道:“多么漂亮的房子啊!”
    要是你对他们说:“小王子存在的证据就是他非常漂亮,他笑着,想要一只羊。他想要一只小羊,这就证明他的存在。”他们一定会耸耸肩膀,把你当作孩子看待!但是,如果你对他们说:“小王子来自的星球就是小行星B612”,那么他们就十分信服,他们就不会提出一大堆问题来和你纠缠。他们就是这样的。小孩子们对大人们应该宽厚些,不要埋怨他们。
    当然,对我们懂得生活的人来说,我们才不在乎那些编号呢!我真愿意象讲神话那样来开始这个故事,我真想这样说:
    “从前呀,有一个小王子,他住在一个和他身体差不多大的星球上,他希望有一个朋友…”对懂得生活的人来说,这样说就显得真实。
    我可不喜欢人们轻率地读我的书。我在讲述这些往事时心情是很难过的。我的朋友带着他的小羊已经离去六年了。我之所以在这里尽力把他描写出来,就是为了不要忘记他。忘记一个朋友,这太叫人悲伤了。并不是所有的人都有过一个朋友。再说,我也可能变成那些大人那样,只对数字感兴趣。也正是为了这个缘故,我买了一盒颜料和一些铅笔。象我这样年纪的人,而且除了六岁时画过闭着肚皮的和开着肚皮的巨蟒外,别的什么也没有尝试过,现在,重新再来画画,真费劲啊!当然,我一定要把这些画尽量地画得逼真,但我自己也没有把握。一张画得还可以,另一张就不象了。还有身材大小,我画得有点不准确。在这个地方小王子画得太大了些,另一个地方又画得太小了些。对他衣服的颜色我也拿不准。于是我就摸索着这么试试那么改改,画个大概齐。我很可能在某些重要的细节上画错了。这就得请大家原谅我了。因为我的这个朋友,从来也不加说明解释。他认为我同他一样。可是,很遗憾,我却不能透过盒子看见小羊。我大概有点和大人们差不多。我一定是变老了。



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