The Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen/The Real Princess
he Real Princess
THERE was once a prince who wished to marry a princess; but he wanted her to be a real princess. He travelled all round the world to find such one, but there was always something wrong. Not that there was any lack of princesses, but as to whether or no they were real ones, he could not always make out. There was sure to be something in the way that was not quite satisfactory. At length he returned home, quite out of spirits, for he wished so to find a real princess.
One evening there was a dreadful storm. It thundered and lightened, and poured of rain, till it was quite dreadful. There came a knock at the town-gate, and the old king went and opened it. A princess stood outside the gate—but, oh dear I what a state she was in from the rain and the bad weather! The water was dripping down from her hair and her clothes, and running in at the tips of her shoes and coming out at the heels. Yet she said she was a real princess."Well, that we'll presently see," thought the old
THERE CAME A KNOCK AT THE TOWN GATE, AND THE OLD KING WENT AND OPENED IT.
SHE SAID NOTHING, AND WENT INTO A SPARE ROOM AND LAID A PEA ON THE SACKING OF THE BEADSTEAD.
queen. But she said nothing, and went into a spare room, and took off all the bedding, and laid a pea on the sacking of the bedstead. She then took twenty mattresses and laid them upon the pea, and then piled twenty eider-down beds on the top of the mattresses.
The princess lay upon them the whole night. On the following morning she was asked how she had slept.
"Oh, most shockingly!" said the princess. "I scarcely closed my eyes all night! I do not know what was in the bed. I laid upon some hard substance, which has made me black and blue all over. It is quite dreadful!"
It was now evident that she was a real princess, since she perceived the pea through twenty mattresses and twenty eider-down beds. None but a real princess could have such delicate feeling.
So the prince married her, for he knew that he had now found a real princess; and the pea was preserved in the cabinet of curiosities, where it is still to be seen, unless somebody has stolen it.
And this mind you, is a real story.
"I SCARCELY CLOSED MY EYES ALL NIGHT! I DO NOT KNOW WHAT WAS IN THE BED."