There was once a time a Prince who wanted to wed a Princess,
but she should be a real Princess.
So he travelled about all over the world to find such a Princess, but everywhere there was something in the way.
Princesses there were in plenty, but whether they were real Princesses, he could not make out, as there was always something that was not quite in order about them. Therefore, he came home again and was quite sad. for he longed so much for a real Princess.
One evening, a heavy storm arose, it thundered and lightened, and the rain poured down; it was quite frightful.
There was then a knocking at the town gate, and the old King
went to open it.
It was a Princess standing outside at the gate.
But alas! what a state she was in because of the rain and the terrible storm. The water ran down from her hair and her clothes, in at the top of her shoes and out at the heels.
But she said that she was a real Princess.
“Well, we shall soon learn it.” thought the old Queen.
but without saying one word.
She went into the bedroom, took all the sheets off the bed and laid a pea on the bottom of the bedstead.
Then she took twenty mattresses, laid them on the pea and finally placed twenty more eider—down quilts on top of the mattresses.
On the top of all these, the Princess was to lie all night.
In the morning she was asked how she had slept.
“Oh, terribly badly,” said the Princess. “Not a wink have I slept the whole night. Heaven knows what there must have been in the bed! I lay on something very hard so that I am black and blue all over my body! It is quite horrible!”
Now, they saw well that she was a real Princess, as she had felt the pea through twenty mattresses and twenty eider-down quilts. Nobody but a real Princess could be so sensitive.
So the Prince took her for his wife, for now he knew that he had a real Princess, and the pea was put into a cabinet of curiosities, where it is still if no one has taken it away.
You see this is a true story!
by Hans Christian Andersen