There once was a prince who wanted to marry a princess, but it had to be a real princess. So he went all over the world looking for a real princess. Everywhere he met young ladies who told him they were real princesses, but he could never be completely sure that this was true. There was always something about them that did not seem quite right. And so, after along time, the prince went back home to his parents and was very sad.
One evening there was a terrible storm. It rained heavily and there was thunder and lightning in the sky above the royal castle. Then there was a knock at the castle gate. The old king went out to see who it could be.
A princess was standing outside the gate. The rain ran down over her hair and clothes and into her shoes. She told the king that she was a real princess, and he asked her to come inside.
“Well, said the old queen. We’ll soon find out if that is true. She went into the guest bedroom and took the mattress and blanket off the bed. Then she put a little green pea on the bed. She put twenty mattress on top of the pea, and then twenty blankets on top of the mattress. This was where the princess was going to spend the night.
The next morning the queen asked the princess how she had slept.
“Oh, it was terrible!” answered the princess. “I didn’t close my eyes all night. I don’t know what was in my bed, but I lay on something hard, and now I am black and blue all over. It was quite a terrible night”
Now, the king, the queen and the prince could be sure that this was a real princess! She had felt the little pea through twenty mattresses and twenty blankets. Only a real princess will be able to do that!
So the prince married the princess, and the pea was put in a museum for everyone to see. And, unless someone has taken it, it is still there today.