The Real Princess
by Hans Christian Andersen
There was once a prince, and he wanted a princess, but then she must be
a real Princess. He travelled right round the world to find one, but
there was always something wrong. There were plenty of princesses, but
whether they were real princesses he had great difficulty in
discovering; there was always something which was not quite right about
them. So at last he had to come home again, and he was very sad because
he wanted a real princess so badly.
One evening there was a terrible storm; it thundered and lightened and
the rain poured down in torrents; indeed it was a fearful night.
In the middle of the storm somebody knocked at the town gate, and the
old King himself went to open it.
It was a princess who stood outside, but she was in a terrible state
from the rain and the storm. The water streamed out of her
hair and her
clothes; it ran in at the top of her shoes and out at the heel, but she
said that she was a real princess.
'Well we shall soon see if that is true,' thought the old Queen, but she
said nothing. She went into the bedroom, took all the bedclothes off and
laid a pea on the bedstead: then she took twenty mattresses and piled
them on the top of the pea, and then twenty feather beds on the top of
the mattresses. This was where the princess was to sleep that night. In
the morning they asked her how she had slept.
'Oh terribly badly!' said the princess. 'I have hardly closed my eyes
the whole night! Heaven knows what was in the bed. I seemed to be lying
upon some hard thing, and my whole body is black and blue this morning.
It is terrible!'
They saw at once that she must be a real princess when she had felt the
pea through twenty mattresses and twenty feather beds. Nobody but a real
princess could have such a delicate skin.
So the prince took her to be his wife, for now he was sure that he had
found a real princess, and the pea was put into the Museum, where it may
still be seen if no one has stolen it.
Now this is a true story.