THE PRINCESS ON THE PEA
THERE was once a prince who wanted to marry a princess; but she was to be a
real princess. So
he traveled about, all through the world, to find a real one, but everywhere
there was something in the way. There were princesses enough, but whether they
were real princesses he could not quite make out: there was always something
that did not seem quite right. So he came home again, and was quite sad: for he
wished so ninch to have a real princess.
One evening a terrible storm came on. It lightened and thundered, the rain
streamed down; it was quite fearful! Then there was a knocking at the town
gate, and the old king went out to open it.
It was a princess who stood outside the gate. But, mercy! how she looked, from
the rain and the rough weather! The water ran down from her hair and her
clothes; it ran in at the points of her shoes, and out at the heels; and yet
she declared that she was a real princess.
"Yes, we will soon find that out," thought the old queen. But she said
nothing, only went into
the bedchamber, took all the bedding off, and put
a pea on the flooring of the bedstead; then she
took twenty mattresses and laid them upon the pea, and then twenty eider-down beds
upon the mattresses. On this the princess had to lie all night. In the morning
she was asked how she had slept.
"Oh, miserably!" said the princess. "I scarcely closed my eyes all night
long. Goodness knows what was in my bed. I lay upon something hard, so that I am
black and blue all over. It is quite dreadful!"
Now they saw that she was a real princess, for through the twenty mattresses and
the twenty eider-down beds she had felt the pea. No one but a real princess
could be so delicate.
So the prince took her for his wife, for now he knew that he
had a true princess; and the pea was put in the museum, and it is there now, unless somebody has
carried it off.
Look you, this is a true story.
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics