The Complete Fairy Tales & Other Stories
By Hans Christian Andersen - online book

Oxford Complete Illustrated Edition all his stories written between 1835 and 1872.

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22                THE PRINCESS ON THE PEA
It was a Princess who stood outside the gate. But, mercy! how she looked, from the rain and the rough weather ! The water ran down her hair and her clothes ; it ran in at the points of her shoes, and out at the heels ; and yet she declared that she was a real princess.
' Yes, we will soon find that out,' thought the old Queen. But she said nothing, only went into the bed-chamber, took all the bedding off, and put a pea on the bottom of the bedstead ; then she took twenty mattresses and laid them upon the pea, and then twenty eider-down quilts upon the mattresses. On this the Princess had to lie all night. In the morning she was asked how she had slept.
' Oh, miserably ! ' said the Princess. ' I scarcely closed my eyes all night long. Goodness knows what was in my bed. I lay upon something hard, so that I am black and blue all over. It is quite dreadful! '
Now they saw that she was a real princess, for through the twenty mattresses and the twenty eider-down quilts she had felt the pea. No one but a real princess could be so tender-skinned.
So the Prince took her for his wife, for now he knew that he had a true princess ; and the pea was put in the museum, and it is still to be seen there, unless somebody has carried it off.
Look you, this is a true story.
' My poor flowers are quite dead ! ' said little Ida. ' They were so pretty yesterday evening, and now all the leaves hang withered. Why do they do that ? ' she asked the student, who sat on the sofa; for she liked him very much. He knew the prettiest stories, and could cut out the most amusing pictures—hearts, with little ladies in them who danced, flowers, and great castles in which one could open the doors : he was a merry student. ' Why do the flowers look so faded to-day ?' she asked again, and showed him a whole bouquet, which was quite withered.
1 Do you know what's the matter with them ?' said the