Prince

“Thank you for letting me stay,” said the princess, “but I really must be going.”

“You… slept well?” the queen asked.

The princess shrugged, but decided not to elaborate. The queen really needed to know, so pushed the issue.

“Then it was better than the previous night.”

The princess sighed. “It was. Once I got rid of the peas under the bed. I’m not sure how they could have gotten there, they were mush. If they had been on top of the mattress I would have left, but I figured I could handle one night of their mush as long as I wasn’t on top of it.”

“Mother!” the prince said.

“She is a princess, all right,” said the queen.

The prince didn’t agree with how his mother determined that. “Anyone would have noticed that!”

The queen nodded. “But only true royalty would call me out on it.”

“That’s nice and all,” said the princess, “but I really have to go.”

“Have a good time,” said the prince.

The queen put up a hand. “You… you are not interested in marrying my son?”

The princess frowned. “No. Not really.”

“Let me get you a good steed to get you on your way,” said the prince. He quickly moved the princess away from his mother, knowing he would have to deal with this for some time. “I’m so sorry about that.”

“Don’t worry,” said the princess. “I know you’ll find your princess eventually.”

The prince sighed. “I’d much rather a prince, at this rate.”

“I’ll send my brother over. You two might get along.”

The prince and the princess wished each other well and the princess departed.

Princess

The next day, the queen looked forward to finding out if the princess had indeed felt the pea under all of those mattresses. The princess didn’t look like she had slept well and the queen asked her how the night had fared.

“I’m sorry, but poorly. After climbing up on all of those mattresses, I felt terrible. The ceiling was too close and nothing felt smooth. So I took off a mattress and tried again. It was worse. Then I took off a third. The ceiling wasn’t too close, but the discomfort of reaching the floor, where I was starting to want to be in the first place was increasing. I finally gave up and slept on the first mattress I removed. I woke up early enough to put it back into place. I didn’t get much sleep at all. Why do you all sleep up so high?”

That wasn’t really enough for the queen to know if the princess had really felt the pea or if the discomfort from the mattresses had only been compounded by the height. After apologizing, the queen offered another room with a better bed for this night. The princess was hesitant.

“Please accept,” the prince asked her, despite wanting this to be over. “My mother is ashamed and wishes that you have a good night’s sleep before you go.”

The perhaps-princess acquiesced to that. The prince hoped this would be the end of it. Yet later he saw his mother scheming.

“Your last attempt failed,” said the prince. “Perhaps let the girl have a good night’s sleep and let her move on? She hasn’t mentioned anything about wanting to marry me.”

“That’s only because of the mattresses,” the queen replied. “I have a better idea this time.”

The queen prepared a new bed. The prince ran his hands through his hair and hoped it wouldn’t be nearly as embarrassing as the last thing she had tried.

And the Pea

Once upon a time, on a stormy night, a princess arrived in a neighbouring kingdom. The queen wasn’t sure whether to believe this girl was a princess. Many girls had stopped by lately, as her son was looking for a suitable wife, but their manners had all been appalling or they had not had the suitable looks.

“Well, you can’t leave someone out in the rain,” the prince said.

“Of course,” said the queen. “But I’m still going to test her as to if she is a princess.”

The queen set up a fantastic test. She set a pea in the self-proclaimed princess’ bed, covered by many mattresses and feather beds.

The princess looked at her bed for the evening and swallowed. “You are so much richer here than my father and his kingdom,” was all she said.

The queen took the compliment. Behind her, far enough away to be considered polite, the prince facepalmed.