“I’m not sure if I understand,” I said. “Your laugh is a present?”

“People look at stars, but the stars mean different things to different people. For people who travel, the stars are guides. For other people they are nothing, only small lights in the sky. For scientists, they are problems. For my businessman, the stars are important because they make him rich. But all these stars are silent stars. For you, it will be different.

You will have stars like nobody else. When you look at the sky at night, there will be one star where I live. And because I will laugh on one of these stars, it will be for you as if all the stars are laughing. You will have stars which can laugh.” And he laughed again.

“When I leave, you will be sad. But you will be less and less sad evey day. Believe me, time will help you be less sad. Then you will be glad that you met me. You will always be my friend. You will want to laugh with me.

And sometimes you will open your window only for fun. And your friends will be surprised when they see you laugh when you look at the sky. Then you will say to them, ‘Yes, the stars always make me laugh!’ And they will think that you’re crazy. It’s a little trick that I will play with you.”

And he laughed again.

“It will be as if I gave you, instead of stars, a lot of little bells which can laugh.” And he laughed again.

Then he became serious again, “Tonight, don’t stay with me.”

“I won’t leave you,” I said.

“Tonight, I will look as if I’m in pain. I will look as if I’m dying. It will look like that. Don’t come to see that. It’s not necessary.”

“I won’t leave you.”

But he was worried. He said, “I’m also asking you not to come because of the snake. He mustn’t bite you. Snakes are bad sometimes. They can bite you only for fun.”

“I won’t leave you.”

Then he said, “It’s also true that snakes have no poison for the second bite.”

That night I didn’t see the little prince leave. He went away from me without making a sound. When I was able to catch him, he was walking fast with determination.

He only said to me, “Ah! You are here.” And he took me by the hand. But he was still worrying.

“It’s wrong that you came. You will feel bad. I will look as if I’m dead, and it won’t be true.”

I was silent.

“You understand. It’s too far. I can’t take this body with me. It’s too heavy.”

I was silent.

“But it’ll be like an old empty shell. There is nothing sad about old shells.”

I was silent.

He tried to explain it one more time. He said, “It will be very nice, you know, I will look at the stars too. All the stars will be wells with a rope and a bucket. All the stars will pour fresh water for me to drink.”

I was silent.

“It will be so much fun! You will have five hundred million little bells, and I will have five hundred million fountains.”

And he was silent too because he was crying.


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