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 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 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 a little pea on the bedstead. She then laid twenty mattresses one upon another over the pea, and put twenty feather beds over the mattresses.
Upon this bed the Princess passed 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 little pea through the twenty mattresses and twenty feather beds. None but a real Princess could have had such a delicate sense of feeling.
The Prince implored her to be his wife; being now convinced that he had finally found a real Princess, and was delighted when she accepted. The pea was preserved for history in the kingdom’s museum, where it still can be seen.
The wedding of the Prince and Princess was celebrated throughout the kingdom, and they lived happily ever after.