Princess and the Pea
By Hans Christian Andersen
Once upon a time there was a prince who
wanted to marry a princess; but she would
have to be a real princess. He travelled all
over the world to find one, but nowhere
could he get what he wanted. There were
princesses enough, but it was difficult to
find out whether they were real ones. There
was always something about them that was not
as it should be. So he came home again and
was sad, for he would have liked very much
to have a real princess.
One evening a terrible storm came on; there
was thunder and lightning, and the rain
poured down in torrents. Suddenly a knocking
was heard at the city gate, and the old king
went to open it.
It was a princess standing out there in
front of the gate. But, good gracious! what
a sight the rain and the wind had made her
look. The water ran down from her hair and
clothes; it ran down into the toes of her
shoes and out again at the heels. And yet
she said that she was a real princess.
"Well, we'll soon find that out," thought
the old queen. But she said nothing, went
into the bed-room, took all the bedding off
the bedstead, and laid a pea on the bottom;
then she took twenty mattresses and laid
them on the pea, and then twenty eider-down
beds on top of the mattresses.
On this the princess had to lie all night.
In the morning she was asked how she had
"Oh, very badly!" said she. "I have scarcely
closed my eyes all night. Heaven only knows
what was in the bed, but I was lying on
something hard, so that I am black and blue
all over my body. It's horrible!"
Now they knew that she was a real princess
because she had felt the pea right through
the twenty mattresses and the twenty
Nobody but a real princess could be as
sensitive as that.
So the prince took her for his wife, for now
he knew that he had a real princess; and the
pea was put in the museum, where it may
still be seen, if no one has stolen it.
There, that is a true story.