The princess and the pea
Once upon a time, there was a prince whose one and only wish was to marry a princess-but only a true princess. In order to find her, he traveled all over the land. He met young princesses and old ones, beautiful princesses and plain ones, rich princesses and poor ones, but there was always something that was not quite right with each of them. The prince began to despair. He called together his courtiers and announced, ''I have failed to find my dream princess. We will go home to our palace without delay.''
One dark night, there was the most tremendous storm. Lightning flashed across the sky and thunder buffeted the thick palace walls. The prince and his parents were talking in the drawing room, when they heard a tiny tap-tapping at the window. The prince opened it, and standing there before him was a very beautiful, but very wet, young lady. her hair was dripping, her dress was soaked through, and she was shivering.
''I am a princess,'' she told the prince, ''and I am lost. May I please come in and shelter from the storm?'' The prince asked the girl into the palace. He turned to the queen and whispered, ''Oh, Mother, she is enchanting! But how can I be sure she really is a princess? ''Leave it to me,'' said his mother, and she hurried off to have a bedroom prepared for the pretty girl.
First, the queen placed a little green pea on the bottom mattress. Then she ordered the servants to bring another twenty mattresses, and twenty feather quilts, which they piled on top of the pea. The princess needed a very tall ladder to climb into bed that night! The next morning, at breakfast, the queen asked the princess if she had slept well. ''I had an awful night!'' said the princess. ''I don't know what it was, but there was a hard I ump under my bed, and it kept me awake all night. I'm covered with bruises!''
''At last!'' the queen exclaimed. ''We have found a true princess for our son. Only a real princess would have skin so tender that she could feel a pea through twenty mattress and twenty feather quilts!'' The prince was overjoyed, and he and the princess were soon married. As for the little green pea, it was put on display in the royal museum-where it can still be seen today.