There was once a Prince
who wished to marry a Princess
; but then she must be a
real Princess. He travelled all over the world in hopes of finding such a
lady; but there was always something wrong. Princesses he found in plenty; but
whether they were real Princesses it was impossible for him to decide, for now
one thing, now another, seemed to him not quite right about the ladies. At
last he returned to his palace
quite cast down, because he wished so much to
have a real Princess for his wife
One evening a fearful tempest arose, it thundered and lightened, and the rain
poured down from the sky in torrents: besides, it was as dark as pitch. All at
once there was heard a violent knocking at the door, and the old King, the
Prince's father, went out himself to open it.
It was a Princess who was standing outside the door. What with the rain and
the wind, she was in a sad condition; the water trickled down from her hair,
and her clothes clung to her body. She said she was a real Princess.
"Ah! we shall soon see that!" thought the old Queen-mother; however, she said
not a word of what she was going to do; but went quietly into the bedroom,
took all the bed-clothes off the bed, and put three little peas on the
bedstead. She then laid twenty mattresses one upon another over the three
peas, and put twenty feather beds over the mattresses.
Upon this bed the Princess was to pass the night.
The next morning she was asked how she had slept. "Oh, very badly indeed!" she
replied. "I have scarcely closed my eyes the whole night through. I do not
know what was in my bed, but I had something hard under me, and am all over
black and blue. It has hurt me so much!"
Now it was plain that the lady must be a real Princess, since she had been
able to feel the three little peas through the twenty mattresses and twenty
feather beds. None but a real Princess could have had such a delicate sense of
The Prince accordingly made her his wife; being now convinced that he had
found a real Princess. The three peas were however put into the cabinet of
curiosities, where they are still to be seen, provided they are not lost.
Wasn't this a lady of real delicacy?
This is the Hans Christian Anderson version. Another version of this story is also known as The Princess and the Pea. A Project Gutenberg text.