Erinnern Sie sich an das Märchen „Die Prinzessin auf der Erbse“? Hier stellen wir Ihnen eine moderne Version vor – zum Schmunzeln und zum Englischlernen. Von DAGMAR TAYLOR
The prince and the pea — a fairy tale for learners
We all know at least a few fairy tales: Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood or Sleeping Beauty. The structure of these tales is familiar to us. They begin with the phrase: “Once upon a time...” and use repetitive language to create drama: “Grandma, what big teeth you have! Grandma, what big ears you have!”
Spotlight has rewritten 24 famous fairy tales for the 21st century. Each one includes examples of a specific grammatical structure. This structure is explained in the notes at the end, where you will also find a related exercise. This month, we present a new version of The Princess and the Pea, reinvented here as “The prince and the pea”.
The prince and the pea
Once upon a time, there was an unmarried prince called Ferdinand.
Ferdinand looked in the mirror. He straightened his tie and tried to ignore his receding hairline. One more elimination round, and he could go home to the palace — perhaps with a bride. Finding a wife on national television seemed to be very much against the grain, but his advisers had told him it was just what the royal family needed to boost its popularity. Prince Ferdinand’s private secretary, Darren, was quite insistent. “The royal family needs to prove that it’s not just a collection of relics from a bygone era,” he said. “Did you know that, according to recent polls, 74 per cent of the population think you’ll never get married? You can no longer afford to be so fussy.”
Ferdinand winced. The tabloids were full of tales of his dalliances with beautiful women and regularly listed them, together with their “flaws”: too thin, too athletic, too old, too political... The list went on. It was all rubbish. He didn’t think he was fussy. He simply didn’t want to make the same mistake that his uncle, his aunt and his parents had made. He had no desire to go through a right royal divorce.
“The public have simply lost interest, your royal highness,” Darren said. Merchandise sales have slumped dramatically, and the loss in revenue has meant that we’ve had to open up the east wing of the palace for weddings and other events.” Ferdinand sighed.
“A royal wedding is the answer,” Darren went on. “It would give a huge boost to morale. And a royal baby or two would be even better.”
More than 5,000 women had applied to appear on the show, but after a strict vetting procedure, only 12 were considered worthy to take part. These women had been on one-on-one or two-on-one dates with the prince and had taken part in various challenges and competitions. Now only three women were left — Amelia, Brigid and Carmeline. Ferdinand knew which of the three he would like to know better. When he had first seen her, he had known that she had a face he would never tire of looking at. When she smiled, it was as if a light shone from within her, making everything around her warmer and brighter. But did she like him?
The prince had lost count of how many elimination rounds there had been. The rounds that stuck in his memory were the glass-slipper round, the seven-dwarfs round and the kiss-the-frog round. The producers had gone mad with the princess theme. They’d saved the pea round for last. Apparently, there had been a great deal of discussion about the name.
Last night, the contestants had slept in four-poster beds piled high with 20
mattresses, beneath which a dried pea had been secretly placed. Only a real lady would be sensitive enough to feel the pea through so many mattresses.
Ferdinand walked on to the set. The contestants had been styled to within an inch of their lives and smiled at the prince as he entered. Ferdinand glanced at the autocue and asked Amelia, “How did you sleep last night?”
“Very well,” replied Amelia. “It was the best night’s sleep I’ve had in ages.”
“That’s good,” said the prince. He was relieved. He wasn’t keen on Amelia. He’d overheard her joking about the other women, but the producers had insisted on keeping her on the show because she was popular with viewers.
Turning to Carmeline, he asked, “How did you sleep?” “Very peacefully,” she giggled. “With all those mattresses, it was like sleeping on a giant marshmallow.”
“Excellent!” responded Ferdinand. There was no doubt that Carmeline had a sweet nature, but Ferdinand hadn’t been able to have a proper conversation with her at any point during filming. He hadn’t had the heart to eliminate her, though.
He looked at Brigid and smiled. “And Brigid, how did you sleep?”
“I slept fine,” replied Brigid.
“Really?” Ferdinand was disappointed. “Well, actually, no, not really. I hardly slept at all, to be honest. There was something hard in the mattress, and it kept poking me in the ribs.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” beamed the prince.
“You don’t look very sorry,” teased Brigid with a twinkle in her eye.
“I appreciate your honesty,” laughed Ferdinand as he walked towards her.
Brigid held out her hands. Ferdinand took them and asked hopefully, “Do you think you would like to get to know me and my complicated family?”
“Why, yes!” exclaimed Brigid. “But does that mean you’re not going to propose to me on national television?” She asked this, pretending to sulk.
Ferdinand smiled. “We already know you’re a queen. You felt the pea through all the mattresses. You won the round!”
“There was a pea under the mattresses? Who’d have thought it?” laughed Brigid.
After getting to know each other — away from prying eyes and hidden cameras — Ferdinand and Brigid decided they would like to spend the rest of their lives together. The nation rejoiced, Darren heaved a sigh of relief, and the pea was put on display in the television studio, where future generations would be able to look at it and wonder at the role it had played in bringing together the king and queen. And everyone lived happily ever after.