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THERE was once a Prince who wanted to marry a princess; but she was to be a real princess. So he travelled about , all through the world , to find a real one , but everywhere there was something in the way. There were princesses enough, but whether they were real princesses he could not quite make out : there was always something that did not seem quite right. So he came home again, and was quite sad; for he wished so much to have a real princess.

One evening a terrible storm came on. It lightened and thundered, the rain streamed down; it was quite fearful! Then there was a knocking at the town-gate, and the old King went out to open it .

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 bedchamber, 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 .

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