The Real Princess
: Hans Andersens Fairy Tales
THERE was once a prince who wanted to marry a princess. But she must be
a real princess, mind you. So he traveled all round the world, seeking
such a one, but everywhere something was in the way. Not that there was
any lack of princesses, but he could not seem to make out whether they
were real princesses; there was always something not quite satisfactory.
Therefore, home he came again, quite out of spirits, for he wished so
much to marry a real princess.
One evening a terrible storm came on. It thundered and lightened, and
the rain poured down; indeed, it was quite fearful. In the midst of it
there came a knock at the town gate, and the old king went out to open
It was a princess who stood outside. But O dear, what a state she was in
from the rain and bad weather! The water dropped from her hair and
clothes, it ran in at the tips of her shoes and out at the heels; yet
she insisted she was a real princess.
"Very well," thought the old queen; "that we shall presently see." She
said nothing, but went into the bedchamber and took off all the bedding,
then laid a pea on the sacking of the bedstead. Having done this, she
took twenty mattresses and laid them upon the pea and placed twenty
eider-down beds on top of the mattresses.
The princess lay upon this bed all the night. In the morning she was
asked how she had slept.
"Oh, most miserably!" she said. "I scarcely closed my eyes the whole
night through. I cannot think what there could have been in the bed. I
lay upon something so hard that I am quite black and blue all over. It
It was now quite evident that she was a real princess, since through
twenty mattresses and twenty eider-down beds she had felt the pea. None
but a real princess could have such delicate feeling.
So the prince took her for his wife, for he knew that in her he had
found a true princess. And the pea was preserved in the cabinet of
curiosities, where it is still to be seen unless some one has stolen it.
And this, mind you, is a real story.