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by hans christian andersen.
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Age Rating 8 plus.
THERE was once a proud teapot; it was proud of being porcelain, proud of
its long spout, proud of its broad handle. It had something before and
behind,--the spout before and the handle behind,--and that was what it
talked about. But it did not talk of its lid, which was cracked and
riveted; these were defects, and one does not talk of one's defects, for
there are plenty of others to do that. The cups, the cream pot, and the
sugar bowl, the whole tea service, would think much oftener of the lid's
imperfections--and talk about them--than of the sound handle and the
remarkable spout. The teapot knew it.
"I know you," it said within itself. "I know, too, my imperfection, and
I am well aware that in that very thing is seen my humility, my
modesty. Imperfections we all have, but we also have compensations. The
cups have a handle, the sugar bowl a lid; I have both, and one thing
besides, in front, which they can never have. I have a spout, and that
makes me the queen of the tea table. I spread abroad a blessing on
thirsting mankind, for in me the Chinese leaves are brewed in the
boiling, tasteless water."
All this said the teapot in its fresh young life. It stood on the table
that was spread for tea; it was lifted by a very delicate hand, but the
delicate hand was awkward. The teapot fell, the spout snapped off, and
the handle snapped off. The lid was no worse to speak of; the worst had
been spoken of that.
The teapot lay in a swoon on the floor, while the boiling water ran out
of it. It was a horrid shame, but the worst was that everybody jeered at
it; they jeered at the teapot and not at the awkward hand.
"I never shall forget that experience," said the teapot, when it
afterward talked of its life. "I was called an invalid, and placed in a
corner, and the next day was given to a woman who begged for victuals.
I fell into poverty, and stood dumb both outside and in. But then, just
as I was, began my better life. One can be one thing and still become
"Earth was placed in me. For a teapot, this is the same as being buried,
but in the earth was placed a flower bulb. Who placed it there, who gave
it, I know not; but given it was, and it became a compensation for the
Chinese leaves and the boiling water, a compensation for the broken
handle and spout.
"And the bulb lay in the earth, the bulb lay in me; it became my heart,
my living heart, such as I had never before possessed. There was life in
me, power and might. The heart pulsed, and the bulb put forth sprouts;
it was the springing up of thoughts and feelings which burst forth into
"I saw it, I bore it, I forgot myself in its delight. Blessed is it to
forget oneself in another. The flower gave me no thanks; it did not
think of me. It was admired and praised, and I was glad at that. How
happy it must have been! One day I heard some one say that the flower
deserved a better pot. I was thumped hard on my back, which was a great
affliction, and the flower was put into a better pot. I was thrown out
into the yard, where I lie as an old potsherd. But I have the memory,
and that I can never lose."