Once upon a time, a prince wanted to marry a real princess. He traveled the world to find one, but he couldn't be sure if any of the princesses he met were genuine. Disappointed, he returned home.
One stormy night, a young woman arrived at the castle, claiming to be a real princess. She was soaked from the rain and looked disheveled.
The queen, wanting to test the young woman's claim, devised a plan.
She removed all the bedding from a bed and placed a single pea at the bottom. Then, she stacked twenty mattresses and twenty quilts on top of the pea.
The princess slept on this bed for the night. In the morning, she complained about her terrible sleep, saying she felt something hard in the bed that left her black and blue.
'Goodness knows what was in my bed. I lay upon something hard, so that I am black and blue all over. It is quite dreadful!'
The queen, prince, and others at the castle realized that only a real princess could be sensitive enough to feel the pea through all those layers.
'No one but a real princess could be so tender-skinned.'
Convinced of her authenticity, the prince married the princess. The pea was later placed in a museum as a testament to the story.