Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The Little Prince
    

CHAPTER XXII

-Good morning, said the little prince.

-Good morning, said the railway switchman.

-What do you do here? the little prince asked.

-I sort out travelers, in bundles of a thousand , said the switchman. -I send off the trains that carry them: now to the right, now to the left.

And a brilliantly lighted express train shook the switchman's cabin as it rushed by with a roar like thunder.

-They are in a great hurry, said the little prince. -What are they looking for?

-Not even the locomotive engineer knows that, said the switchman.

And a second brilliantly lighted express thundered by, in the opposite direction.

-Are they coming back already? demanded the little prince.

-These are not the same ones, said the switchman. -It is an exchange.

-Were they not satisfied where they were? asked the little prince.

-No one is ever satisfied where he is, said the switchman.

And they heard the roaring thunder of a third brilliantly lighted express.

-Are they pursuing the first travelers? demanded the little prince.

-They are pursuing nothing at all, said the switchman. -They are asleep in there, or if they are not asleep they are yawning. Only the children are flattening their noses against the windowpanes.

-Only the children know what they are looking for, said the little prince. -They waste their time over a rag doll and it becomes very important to them; and if anybody takes it away from them, they cry . . .

-They are lucky, the switchman said.