The Princess And The Pea
Based on the original by Hans Christian Anderson
Once upon a time, there was a prince. He lived with his mother the queen, in a beautiful city at the top of a hill.
But the prince was lonely. He wanted to marry. Now in those days there were lots of beautiful women, but there were not many princesses. The prince needed to marry a princess. Not just a woman who called herself a princess, but a REAL princess.
So, one day, he mounted his horse and set off in the great wide world to find himself a real princess. And he travelled far and long.
He did indeed meet many women who called themselves princesses. One was very beautiful. One was very rich. Another was quiet and strong. While another was loud and meek! They all seemed like real princesses, but there really was no way to tell!
So, after a long search, the sad prince returned home without a bride. His poor mother was disappointed as she longed for a grandchild. So, the two of them sat in front of the fire and wept. It seemed as if the night were just as sombre as it started raining like arrows from the heavens. The stars went out and the clouds roared and sent lightening splintering across the night sky.
It was past midnight when the queen and the prince started heading off to their chambers… when suddenly they heard a knock at the castle gates.
There stood a woman, shivering from the cold. Her clothes were drenched and discoloured, and her hair was wet and straggly. Her shoes were soaking wet. She looked a sight!
“Who goes there?” called the prince.
“I am princess,” she replied. “May I stay here tonight?”
“A princess?” Thought the prince “This can’t be a real Princess, look at the state of her!”
But he let her in the gates and took her inside.
While she warmed herself by the fire, the queen decided to test whether this woman was indeed a real princess.
She snuck into the room where the woman was to sleep and she took the bedding off the bed and put a little green pea in the middle. On top of the pea, she placed… not one… not two… but twenty mattresses. And on top of the mattresses she laid twenty quilts.
Pleased with her work, she returned to the drawing room in time to wish the woman ‘goodnight’, before she too retired to her chamber.
In the morning, the queen and prince were having breakfast when the woman entered the room and sat down.
“Good morrow,” called the queen. “I trust you slept well?” she asked.
“I’m afraid to say; I slept very badly indeed. For there seemed to be something hard in the bed which has left my whole body black and blue!”
The prince was affronted by her rudeness. But a gasp from his mother made him turn to see her stand and smile.
“My son, last night I placed a pea under twenty mattresses and twenty quilts. Our guest slept on these and yet she still could feel the pea. My son, we have found a real princess. For only a real princess is so sensitive.
The prince was delighted! And what is more, when her hair and clothes were dry, the princess was really quite beautiful.
So they got married and were both very happy. The prince had finally found his real princess.
And the pea? Well that was placed on a royal cushion and displayed in the Royal Museum. It is there to this day… Unless someone has stolen it, but I can’t think why.
This was a true story… and now you know the way to tell a real princess!