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Chapter 26
- the little prince converses with the snake; the little prince consoles the narrator; the little prince returns to his planet     
Beside the well there was the ruin of an old stone wall. When I came back from my work, the next evening, I saw from some distance away my little price sitting on top of a wall, with his feet dangling. And I heard him say:
"Then you don't remember. This is not the exact spot."
Another voice must have answered him, for he replied to it:
"Yes, yes! It is the right day, but this is not the place."
I continued my walk toward the wall. At no time did I see or hear anyone. The little prince, however, replied once again:
"--Exactly. You will see where my track begins, in the sand. You have nothing to do but wait for me there. I shall be there tonight."
I was only twenty metres from the wall, and I still saw nothing.
After a silence the little prince spoke again:
"You have good poison? You are sure that it will not make me suffer too long?"
I stopped in my tracks, my heart torn asunder; but still I did not understand.
"Now go away," said the little prince. "I want to get down from the wall."
I dropped my eyes, then, to the foot of the wall-- and I leaped into the air. There before me, facing the little prince, was one of those yellow snakes that take just thirty seconds to bring your life to an end. Even as I was digging into my pocked to get out my revolver I made a running step back. But, at the noise I made, the snake let himself flow easily across the sand like the dying spray of a fountain, and, in no apparent hurry, disappeared, with a light metallic sound, among the stones.
I reached the wall just in time to catch my little man in my arms; his face was white as snow.
"What does this mean?" I demanded. "Why are you talking with snakes?"
I had loosened the golden muffler that he always wore. I had moistened his temples, and had given him some water to drink. And now I did not dare ask him any more questions. He looked at me very gravely, and put his arms around my neck. I felt his heart beating like the heart of a dying bird, shot with someone's rifle...
"I am glad that you have found what was the matter with your engine," he said. "Now you can go back home--"
"How do you know about that?"
I was just coming to tell him that my work had been successful, beyond anything that I had dared to hope.
He made no answer to my question, but he added:
"I, too, am going back home today..."
Then, sadly--
"It is much farther... it is much more difficult..."
I realised clearly that something extraordinary was happening. I was holding him close in my arms as if he were a little child; and yet it seemed to me that he was rushing headlong toward an abyss from which I could do nothing to restrain him...
His look was very serious, like some one lost far away.
"I have your sheep. And I have the sheep's box. And I have the muzzle..."
And he gave me a sad smile.
I waited a long time. I could see that he was reviving little by little.
"Dear little man," I said to him, "you are afraid..."
He was afraid, there was no doubt about that. But he laughed lightly.
"I shall be much more afraid this evening..."
Once again I felt myself frozen by the sense of something irreparable. And I knew that I could not bear the thought of never hearing that laughter any more. For me, it was like a spring of fresh water in the desert.
"Little man," I said, "I want to hear you laugh again."
But he said to me:
"Tonight, it will be a year... my star, then, can be found right above the place where I came to the Earth, a year ago..."
"Little man," I said, "tell me that it is only a bad dream-- this affair of the snake, and the meeting-place, and the star..."
But he did not answer my plea. He said to me, instead: "The thing that is important is the thing that is not seen..."
"Yes, I know..."
"It is just as it is with the flower. If you love a flower that lives on a star, it is sweet to look at the sky at night. All the stars are a-bloom with flowers..."
"Yes, I know..."
"It is just as it is with the water. Because of the pulley, and the rope, what you gave me to drink was like music. You remember-- how good it was."
"Yes, I know..."
"And at night you will look up at the stars. Where I live everything is so small that I cannot show you where my star is to be found. It is better, like that. My star will just be one of the stars, for you. And so you will love to watch all the stars in the heavens... they will all be your friends. And, besides, I am going to make you a present..."
He laughed again.
"Ah, little prince, dear little prince! I love to hear that laughter!"
"That is my present. Just that. It will be as it was when we drank the water..."
"What are you trying to say?"
"All men have the stars," he answered, "but they are not the same things for different people. For some, who are travelers, the stars are guides. For others they are no more than little lights in the sky. For others, who are scholars, they are problems . For my businessman they were wealth. But all these stars are silent. You-- you alone-- will have the stars as no one else has them--"
"What are you trying to say?"
"In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night... you-- only you-- will have stars that can laugh!"
And he laughed again.
"And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me. You will always be my friend. You will want to laugh with me. And you will sometimes open your window, so, for that pleasure... and your friends w ill be properly astonished to see you laughing as you look up at the sky! Then you will say to them, 'Yes, the stars always make me laugh!' And they will think you are crazy. It will be a very shabby trick that I shall have played on you..."
And he laughed again.
"It will be as if, in place of the stars, I had given you a great number of little bells that knew how to laugh..."
And he laughed again. Then he quickly became serious:
"Tonight-- you know... do not come," said the little prince.
"I shall not leave you," I said.
"I shall look as if I were suffering. I shall look a little as if I were dying. It is like that. Do not come to see that. It is not worth the trouble..."
"I shall not leave you."
But he was worried.
"I tell you-- it is also because of the snake. He must not bite you. Snakes-- they are malicious creatures. This one might bite you just for fun..."
"I shall not leave you."
But a thought came to reassure him:
"It is true that they have no more poison for a second bite."
That night I did not see him set out on his way. He got away from me without making a sound. When I succeeded in catching up with him he was walking along with a quick and resolute step. He said to me merely:
"Ah! You are there..."
And he took me by the hand. But he was still worrying.
"It was wrong of you to come. You will suffer. I shall look as if I were dead; and that will not be true..."
I said nothing.
"You understand... it is too far. I cannot carry this body with me. It is too heavy."
I said nothing.
"But it will be like an old abandoned shell. There is nothing sad about old shells..."
I said nothing.
He was a little discouraged. But he made one more effort:
"You know, it will be very nice. I, too, shall look at the stars. All the stars will be wells with a rusty pulley. All the stars will pour out fresh water for me to drink..."
I said nothing.
"That will be so amusing! You will have five hundred million little bells, and I shall have five hundred million springs of fresh water..."
And he too said nothing more, becuase he was crying...
"Here it is. Let me go on by myself."
And he sat down, because he was afraid. Then he said, again:
"You know-- my flower... I am responsible for her. And she is so weak! She is so na飗e! She has four thorns, of no use at all, to protect herself against all the world..."
I too sat down, because I was not able to stand up any longer.
"There now-- that is all..."
He still hesitated a little; then he got up. He took one step. I could not move.
There was nothing but a flash of yellow close to his ankle. He remained motionless for an instant. He did not cry out. He fell as gently as a tree falls. There was not even any sound, because of the sand.

    在井旁边有一堵残缺的石墙。第二天晚上我工作回来的时候,我远远地看见了小王子耷拉着双腿坐在墙上。我听见他在说话:   
    “你怎么不记得了呢?”他说,“绝不是在这儿。”   
    大概还有另一个声音在回答他,因为他答着腔说道:   
    “没错,没错,日子是对的;但地点不是这里…”   
    我继续朝墙走去。我还是看不到,也听不见任何别人。可是小王子又回答道:   
    “…那当然。你会在沙上看到我的脚印是从什么地方开始的。你在那里等着我就行了。今天夜里我去那里。”   
    我离墙约有二十米远,可我依然什么也没有看见。   
    小王子沉默了一会又说:   
    “你的毒液管用吗?你保证不会使我长时间地痛苦吗?”   
    我焦虑地赶上前去,但我仍然不明白是怎么回事。   
    “现在你去吧,我要下来了!…”小王子说。   
    于是,我也朝墙脚下看去,我吓了一跳。就在那里,一条黄蛇直起身子冲着小王子。这种黄蛇半分钟就能结果你的性命。我一面赶紧掏口袋,拔出手枪,一面跑过去。可是一听到我的脚步声,蛇却象一股干涸了的水柱一样,慢慢钻进沙里去。它不慌不忙地在石头的缝隙中钻动着,发出轻轻的金属般的响声。   
    我到达墙边的时候,正好把我的这位小王子接在我的怀抱中。他的脸色雪一样惨白。   
    “这是搞的什么名堂!你怎么竟然和蛇也谈起心来了!”我解开了他一直带着的金黄色的围脖。我用水渍湿了他的太阳穴,让他喝了点水。这时,我什么也不敢再问他。他严肃地看着我,用双臂搂着我的脖子。我感到他的心就象一只被枪弹击中而濒于死亡的鸟的心脏一样在跳动着。他对我说:   
    “我很高兴,你找到了你的机器所缺少的东西。你不久就可以回家去了…”   
    “你怎么知道的?”   
    我正是来告诉他,在没有任何希望的情况下,我成功地完成了修理工作。   
    他不回答我的问题,却接着说道:   
    “我也一样,今天,要回家去了…”   
    然后,他忧伤地说:   
    “我回家要远得多…要难得多…”   
    我清楚地感到发生了某种不寻常的事。我把他当作小孩一样紧紧抱在怀里,可是我感觉到他径直地向着一个无底深渊沉陷下去,我想法拉住他,却怎么也办不到…   
    他的眼神很严肃,望着遥远的地方。   
    “我有你画的羊,羊的箱子和羊的嘴套子…”   
    他带着忧伤的神情微笑了。   
    我等了很长时间,才觉得他身子渐渐暖和起来。   
    “小家伙,你受惊了…”   
    他害怕了,这是无疑的!他却温柔地笑着说:   
    “今天晚上,我会怕得更厉害…”   
    我再度意识到要发生一件不可弥补的事。我觉得我的心一下子就凉了。这时我才明白:一想到再也不能听到这笑声,我就不能忍受。这笑声对我来说,就好象是沙漠中的甘泉一样。   
    “小家伙,我还想听你笑…”   
    但他对我说:   
    “到今天夜里,正好是一年了。我的星球将正好处于我去年降落的那个地方的上空…”   
    “小家伙,这蛇的事,约会的事,还有星星,这全是一场噩梦吧?”   
    但他并不回答我的问题。他对我说:   
    “重要的事,是看不见的…”   
    “当然…”   
    “这就象花一样。如果你爱上了一朵生长在一颗星星上的花,那么夜间,你看着天空就感到甜蜜愉快。所有的星星上都好象开着花。”   
    “当然…”   
    “这也就象水一样,由于那辘轳和绳子的缘故,你给我喝的井水好象音乐一样…你记得吗?…这水非常好喝…”   
    “当然…”   
    “夜晚,你抬头望着星星,我的那颗太小了,我无法给你指出我的那颗星星是在哪里。这样倒更好。你可以认为我的那颗星星就在这些星星之中。那么,所有的星星,你都会喜欢看的…这些星星都将成为你的朋友。而且,我还要给你一件礼物…”   
    他又笑了。   
    “啊!小家伙,小家伙,我喜欢听你这笑声!”   
    “这正好是我给你的礼物,…这就好象水那样。”   
    “你说的是什么?”   
    “人们眼里的星星并不都一样。对旅行的人来说,星星是向导。对别的人来说,星星只是些小亮光。对另外一些学者来说,星星就是他们探讨的学问。对我所遇见的那个实业家来说,星星是金钱。但是,所有这些星星都不会说话。你呢,你的那些星星将是任何人都不曾有过的…”   
    “你说的是什么?”   
    “夜晚,当你望着天空的时候,既然我就住在其中一颗星星上,既然我在其中一颗星星上笑着,那么对你来说,就好象所有的星星都在笑,那么你将看到的星星就是会笑的星星!”   
    这时,他又笑了。   
    “那么,在你得到了安慰之后(人们总是会自我安慰的)你就会因为认识了我而感到高兴。你将永远是我的朋友。你就会想要同我一起笑。有时,你会为了快乐而不知不觉地打开窗户。你的朋友们会奇怪地看着你笑着仰望天空。那时,你就可以对他们说:‘是的,星星总是引我欢笑!’他们会以为你发疯了。我的恶作剧将使你难堪…”   
    这时,他又笑了。   
    “这就好象我并没有给你星星,而是给你一大堆会笑出声来的小铃铛…”   
    他仍然笑着。随后他变得严肃起来:   
    “今天夜里…你知道…不要来了。”   
    “我不离开你。”   
    “我将会象是很痛苦的样子…我有点象要死去似的。就是这么回事,你就别来看这些了,没有必要。”   
    “我不离开你。”   
    可是他担心起来。   
    “我对你说这些…这也是因为蛇的缘故。别让它咬了你…蛇是很坏的,它随意咬人…”   
    “我不离开你。”   
    这时,他似乎有点放心了:   
    “对了,它咬第二口的时候就没有毒液了…”   
    这天夜里,我没有看到他起程。他不声不响地跑了。当我终于赶上他的时候,他坚定地快步走着。他只是对我说道:   
    “啊,你在这儿…”   
    于是他拉着我的手。但是他仍然很担心:   
    “你不该这样。你会难受的。我会象是死去的样子,但这不会是真的…”   
    我默默无言。   
    “你明白,路很远。我不能带着这付身躯走。它太重了。”   
    我依然沉默不语。   
    “但是,这就好象剥落的旧树皮一样。旧树皮,并没有什么可悲的。”   
    我还是沉默不语。   
    他有些泄气了。但是他又振作起来:   
    “这将是蛮好的,你知道。我也一定会看星星的。所有的星星都将是带有生了锈的辘轳的井。所有的星星都会倒水给我喝…”   
    我还是沉默不语。   
    “这将是多么好玩啊!你将有五亿个铃铛,我将有五亿口水井…”   
    这时,他也沉默了,因为他在哭。   
    “就是这儿。让我自个儿走一步吧。”   
    他这时坐下来,因为他害怕了。他却仍然说道:   
    “你知道…我的花…我是要对她负责的!而她又是那么弱小!她又是那么天真。她只有四根微不足道的刺,保护自己,抵抗外敌…”   
    我也坐了下来,因为我再也站立不住了。他说道:   
    “就是这些…全都说啦…”   
    他犹豫了一下,然后站起来。他迈出了一步。而我却动弹不得。   
    在他的脚踝子骨附近,一道黄光闪了一下。刹那间他一动也不动了。他没有叫喊。他轻轻地象一棵树一样倒在地上,大概由于沙地的缘故,连一点响声都没有。


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