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ONCE upon a time there was a prince who wanted to marry a princess, but she would have to be a real princess. He traveled all over the world to find one, but nowhere could he get what he wanted.

There were princesses enough, but it was difficult to find out whether they were real ones. There was always something about them that was not as it should be. So he came home again and was sad, for he would have liked very much to have a real princess.

One evening a terrible storm came on; there was thunder and lightning, and the rain poured down in torrents. Suddenly a knocking was heard at the city gate, and the old king went to open it.

It was a princess standing out there in front of the gate. But, good gracious! what a sight the rain and the wind had made her look. The water ran down from her hair and clothes; it ran down into the toes of her shoes and out again at the heels. And yet she said that she was a real princess.

"Well, we'll soon find that out," thought the old queen. But she said nothing, went into the bed-room, took all the bedding off the bedstead, and laid a pea on the bottom; then she took twenty mattresses and laid them on the pea, and then twenty eider-down beds on top of the mattresses.

On this the princess had to lie all night. In the morning she was asked how she had slept.

"Oh, very badly!" said she. "I have scarcely closed my eyes all night. Heaven only knows what was in the bed, but I was lying on something hard, so that I am black and blue all over my body. It's horrible!"

Now they knew that she was a real princess because she had felt the pea right through the twenty mattresses and the twenty eider-down beds.

Nobody but a real princess could be as sensitive as that.

So the prince took her for his wife, for now he knew that he had a real princess; and the pea was put in the museum, where it may still be seen, if no one has stolen it.

 

从前有一位王子,他想找一位公主结婚;但是她必须是一位真正的公主。所以他就走遍了全世界,要想寻到这样的一位公主。可是无论他到什么地方,他总是碰到一些障碍。公主倒有的是,不过他没有办法断定她们究竟是不是真正的公主。她们总是有些地方不大对头。结果,他只好回家来,心中很不快活,因为他是那么渴望着得到一位真正的公主。

有一天晚上,忽然起了一阵可怕的暴风雨。天空在掣电,在打雷,在下着大雨。这真有点使人害怕!这时,有人在敲门,老国王就走过去开门。

站在城门外的是一位美丽的公主。可是,天哪!经过了风吹雨打之后,她的样子是多么难看啊!水沿着她的头发和衣服向下面流,流进鞋尖,又从脚跟流出来。她说她是一个真正的公主。

“是的,这点我们马上就可以考查出来。”老皇后心里想,可是她什么也没说。她走进卧房,把所有的被褥都搬开,在床榻上放了一粒豌豆。于是她取出二十床垫子,把它们压在豌豆上。随后,她又在这些垫子上放了二十床鸭绒被。

这位公主夜里就睡在这些东西上面。

早晨大家问她昨晚睡得怎样。

“啊,不舒服极了!”公主说,“我差不多整夜没有合上眼!天晓得我床上有件什么东西?有一粒很硬的东西硌着我,弄得我全身发青发紫,这真怕人!”

现在大家就看出来了,她是一位真正的公主,因为压在这二十床垫子和二十床鸭绒被下面的一粒豌豆,她居然还能感觉得出来。除了真正的公主以外,任何人都不会有这么嫩的皮肤的。

因此那位王子就选她为妻子了,因为现在他知道他得到了一位真正的公主。这粒豌豆因此也就送进了博物馆。如果没有人把它拿走的话,人们现在还可以在那儿看到它呢。

请注意,这是一个真的故事。