FAIRY TALE FLASH - The Royal Pea by Olivia Arieti
The knocks were too loud, almost insolent. When the young prince opened the door, before him stood a stout girl with disheveled hair and sloppily dressed.
“I’ve lost my way and it’s pouring, so I wondered if you could put me up for the night.”
“With great pleasure,” he replied charmed by her spontaneous vivacity.
Although perplexed by the girl’s aspect, the queen put a pea under the twenty mattresses of her bed; the fear that her son might never marry was too strong.
“I’ve slept terribly,” the maiden complained the following morning, “there must have been stones under those mattresses.”
“It worked, it worked!” cried the queen and told her guest about the pea’s magic power.
No sooner she had finished talking than the prince knelt down and proposed, “I was sure you were a real princess! Will you marry me, my dearest?”
The girl gazed at him stupefied and then burst into laughter, “Me, a princess? I’m no princess, simply a humble shepherdess who lives with her father in a hut beyond the hills.”
“But… you just said that you had a bad night,” he remarked dismayed.
“Certainly due to tiredness or indigestion, I had eaten lots of roasted apples at my grandma’s before getting lost.”
Disappointed, the prince looked at his mother.
“Well, this girl here may be no princess, but her honesty and liveliness are enough to entitle her with such an honor.”
The shepherdess shook her head, “I’m no fool to believe that a stupid pea can determine who I am. Better save your peas for your soup, Milady, and as for me, I’ll leave such silliness to royalty and go back to my sheep that apparently, are much wiser.”
She bid all good-bye and rushed home where a quite worried father was waiting for his daughter.
Olivia Arieti is a published playwright and author whose work has appeared in several anthologies.
Follow her on Twitter @3squirrels