The Teapot

: Hans Andersens Fairy Tales

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
r /> 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

quite another.

"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."