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How To Tell A True Princess

from The Yellow Fairy Book





There was once upon a time a Prince who wanted to marry a
Princess, but she must be a true Princess. So he travelled
through the whole world to find one, but there was always
something against each. There were plenty of Princesses, but he
could not find out if they were true Princesses. In every case
there was some little defect, which showed the genuine article
was not yet found. So he came home again in very low spirits,
for he had wanted very much to have a true Princess. One night
there was a dreadful storm; it thundered and lightened and the
rain streamed down in torrents. It was fearful! There was a
knocking heard at the Palace gate, and the old King went to open
it.

There stood a Princess outside the gate; but oh, in what a sad
plight she was from the rain and the storm! The water was
running down from her hair and her dress into the points of her
shoes and out at the heels again. And yet she said she was a
true Princess!

'Well, we shall soon find that!' thought the old Queen. But she
said nothing, and went into the sleeping-room, took off all the
bed-clothes, and laid a pea on the bottom of the bed. Then she
put twenty mattresses on top of the pea, and twenty eider-down
quilts on the top of the mattresses. And this was the bed in
which the Princess was to sleep.

The next morning she was asked how she had slept.

'Oh, very badly!' said the Princess. 'I scarcely closed my eyes
all night! I am sure I don't know what was in the bed. I laid
on something so hard that my whole body is black and blue. It is
dreadful!'

Now they perceived that she was a true Princess, because she had
felt the pea through the twenty mattresses and the twenty
eider-down quilts.

No one but a true Princess could be so sensitive.

So the Prince married her, for now he knew that at last he had
got hold of a true Princess. And the pea was put into the Royal
Museum, where it is still to be seen if no one has stolen it.
Now this is a true story.





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