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The Princess and the Pea

The Princess and the Pea
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The Princess and the Pea

A Danish folk tale retold by Niz Smith and Avril Lethbridge


Once upon a time there was a prince who was very very very very fussy.  He decided that the time had come for him to get married, but his future wife would have to be a real princess who was just as fussy as him.  He thought fussiness was a sign of royalty.

But where could he find one?  He began to search the length and breadth of the land.  But no luck.  He was so fussy that every princess he saw he’d say:

“That one’s too fat” or “that one’s too thin” or “that one’s too tall” or “that one’s too short” or “that one’s too smelly” or “that one’s hair’s green” or “that one’s hair’s blue”

And so on and on it went.  He was never satisfied but he did still want a wife who was a real princess.  Where was he to find one?  In the zoo?  In the pig sty? In the stable? His mother and father, the king and queen, were at their wit’s end.  They didn’t know where else to look.

They were still worrying about it when, one night, there was a terrible storm and through the noise of the howling wind and the rain thy heard a gentle tapping on the door.

Outside, bedraggled, hair dripping wet, was a very sad sight.

“Please let me in out of the cold and wet, I’m a real princess”.

They let her in because real princesses shouldn’t be cold and wet.  But when they looked at her closely, she certainly didn’t look like a real princess, her hair was all straggly, her clothes were torn and dripping, her shoes were muddy and squelchy and she wasn’t wearing a crown (as all princesses should).

The ladies of the palace all whispered behind her back:

“That’s never a real princess, a real princess would never get in such a state, who does she think she is?”

But the queen was a kind queen and decided the girl should be offered a warm bath and a bed for the night, but she secretly thought that, without telling the king or the prince, she’d prove the girl wasn’t a real princess.

After her bath the girl did look more like a real princess but the test was still to come.

The queen ordered her servants to make up a bed with not 1, not 2, not 3 but 20 mattresses all piled on top of one another.  But, most importantly, to put a tiny green pea underneath the bottom mattress.

Why was she ordering this?

The next morning, when the girl joined them at breakfast she looked very very tired.

“How did you sleep last night?” asked the queen.

“Your majesty, I climbed onto the topmost mattress and tried to settle down.  But all night long I tossed and turned because I was so uncomfortable.  It was no good, however hard I tried, I could not sleep. There must have been something hard trapped under the mattresses and it kept me awake all night”.

“Oh my dear” said the queen “you must be a real princess.  Only a real princess would be so delicate that she would feel a tiny green pea underneath all those mattresses”.

The prince was overjoyed. His grooms and his knights and his squires and his cooks and his horses who had had to search all over the land for a real princess with him were overjoyed, at last they could have a rest. The king and queen were overjoyed because, at last, they could see their son, the prince, was happy.

The real prince and the real princess married and lived happily ever after being very very fussy together.

The Princess and the Pea
Find out more
about the contributors

The Princess and the Pea

A Danish folk tale retold by Niz Smith and Avril Lethbridge


Prinsessen på Ærten


Der var engang en prins, der var meget, meget, meget, meget kræsen. Han besluttede sig for, at tiden var kommet til at han skulle giftes, men hans kommende kone skulle være en ægte prinsesse, der var lige så kræsen som ham selv. Han mente, at kræsenhed var et tegn på kongelighed.

Men hvor kunne han finde en? Han begyndte at søge på kryds og tværs af landet. Men uden held. Han var så kræsen, at hver gang han så en prinsesse, ville han sige:

"Hun er for fed" eller "Hun er for tynd" eller "Hun er for høj" eller "Hun er for lille" eller "Hun lugter for meget" eller "Hendes hår er grønt" eller "Hendes hår er blåt".

Og sådan fortsatte det. Han var aldrig tilfreds, men han ville stadig have en kone, som var en ægte prinsesse. Hvor kunne han finde en? I zoologisk have? I grisestalden? I hestestalden? Hans mor og far, kongen og dronningen, vidste slet ikke hvad de skulle gøre. De vidste ikke hvor de ellers skulle lede.

De bekymrede sig stadig om det, da der var en frygtelig storm en nat, og gennem støjen fra ​​den hylende blæst og regn, hørte de en let banken på døren.

Udenfor, sjaskvåd, var et meget trist syn.

"Må jeg ikke nok komme ind ud fra kulden og regnen, jeg er en ægte prinsesse".

De lod hende komme ind, fordi ægte prinsesser bør ikke fryse og være gennemblødte. Men da de kiggede nærmere på hende, lignede hun slet ikke en ægte prinsesse, hendes hår var tjavset, hendes tøj var revet itu og gennemblødt, hendes sko var mudrede og svuppede, og hun var ikke iført en krone (som alle prinsesser bør).

Damerne i paladset hviskede alle sammen bag hendes ryg:

"Det kunne aldrig være en ægte prinsesse, en ægte prinsesse ville aldrig se sådan ud, hvem tror hun, ​​hun er?"

Men dronningen var en venlig dronning og hun besluttede sig for, at pigen skulle tilbydes et varmt bad og en seng for natten, men i skjul tænkte hun, at uden at fortælle kongen eller prinsen det, ville hun bevise, at pigen ikke var en ægte prinsesse.

Efter hendes bad, lignede pigen dog mere en ægte prinsesse, men hendes endelige prøve lå stadig forude.

Dronningen beordrede sine tjenere til at lave en seng med hele 20 madrasser, alle stablet oven på hinanden. Men, vigtigst af alt, skulle de lægge en lille grøn ært under den nederste madras.

Hvorfor gjorde hun dog det?

Den næste morgen, da pigen kom ned til morgenmad, så hun meget, meget træt ud.

"Hvordan har du sovet i nat?" spurgte dronningen.

"Deres majestæt, jeg klatrede op på den øverste madras og forsøgte at falde i søvn. Men hele natten lang lå jeg og vendte og drejede mig, fordi jeg lå så ubehageligt. Der var intet der hjalp, lige meget hvad jeg gjorde, så kunne jeg ikke sove. Der må have været noget hårdt fanget under madrasserne og det holdt mig vågen hele natten".

"Åh, kæreste ven" sagde dronningen, “du må være en ægte prinsesse. Kun en ægte prinsesse kunne være så sart, at hun ville kunne mærke en lille grøn ært under alle de madrasser".

Prinsen var henrykt. Hans tjenere og hans riddere og hans væbnere og hans kokke og hans heste, som havde søgt over hele landet efter en ægte prinsesse, var henrykte, for endelig kunne de hvile sig. Kongen og dronningen var henrykte, fordi de endelig kunne se, at deres søn, prinsen, var glad.

Den rigtige prins og den rigtige prinsesse blev gift og levede lykkeligt til deres dages ende efter at have være meget, meget kræsne sammen.

 

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