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THE PRINCESS AND THE PEA
Once upon a time . . . there was a prince who, after wandering the land
searching for a wife, returned to his castle and told his unhappy parents that
he had been unable to find a bride.
Now, this young man was difficult to please, and he had not been greatly
taken with any of the noble young ladies he had met on his travels. He was
looking for a bride who was not only beautiful, but also well-born, with the
elegance and manners found only in those of noble birth and background.
One evening, during a fierce hurricane that had suddenly blown up, a
persistent knocking was heard at the castle door. The prince's father sent a
servant to find out who was there. Standing on the steps, lit by flashes of
lightning, in the driving rain, was a young lady. "I'm a princess," she said,"
seeking shelter for myself and my page. My carriage has broken down and the
coachman can't repair it till tomorrow."
In the meantime, the prince's mother had appeared to welcome the guest. She
stared disapprovingly at the girl's muddy wet garments, and decided to find
out if she really was of gentle birth.
"Prepare a soft soft bed in the Blue Room," she said, "I'll come myself and
make sure everything is in order." She told the servants to lay a pile of soft
quilts on top of the mattress, and under the mattress she hid a pea. Then she
showed the girl to her room. The rain beat down all night and lightning
streaked the sky. In the morning, the prince's mother asked her guest: "Did
you sleep well? Was the bed comfortable?" The girl politely replied:
"lt was a lovely soft bed, so soft that I could feel something hard under
the mattress. This morning, I discovered it was a pea. It kept me awake all
night!" The prince's mother offered her apologies, before rushlng of to her
"A real princess at last! Just think! She could feel the pea I hid under
the mattress! Now, only a well-born lady could do that!
The prince had finally found the bride of his dreams. After the wedding,
the pea was placed inside a gold and crystal box and exhibite i_n the castle