Hans Christian Andersen
Once upon a time there was a prince who wanted to marry a princess, but insisted that the lady must be a real princess. He traveled all over the world looking for one, but nowhere could he get what he wanted. There were so many princesses, but it was difficult to find out whether they were real ones or not. He discovered that there was always something about them that was not what it should be. So, he came home and was sad, for he would have liked very much to have a real princess.
One evening a terrible storm came; there was thunder and lightning, and the rain poured in torrents. Suddenly a knock 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 turned her into. The water ran down from her hair and clothes; it ran down to the toes of her shoes and 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 bedroom, 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 scarcely closed my eyes all night. Heaven only knows what was on 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 can still be seen, if no one steal it.
MORAL: We should test people before we take them by their word, or trust them. Don’t just trust people anyhow.