A long, long time ago, in a small town far, far away, there lived a beautiful teapot named Teapot Ella. Teapot Ella didn’t know she was beautiful, however, because she was living with her teapot stepmother and her two teapot stepsisters in a dusty, nearly forgotten antique shop.
The stepmother, Teapot Hildegard, and the stepsisters, Teapot Myrt and Teapot Gert, were very unkind to Teapot Ella and constantly belittled her. In recent weeks, they’d seen her banished to the very back of the antique shop. She lived on the bottom shelf of the clearance rack. Sadly, few customers ever looked there.
Hildegard, Myrt, and Gert excelled at self-promotion and managed to worm their way into the antique shop’s most prized spot, a lighted display case up front, where they preened and primped for passersby. They were quite proud of their steep price tags, even though it never occurred to the teapot ladies that those steep prices were keeping them prisoners in the shop. Their lofty estimations of their own worth, however, were all it took to keep them happy.
Then one day, there appeared two women who had never visited that antique shop before, Grace and Mercy. The two had been out visiting a friend when they decided to take a peek into the dusty little shop.
“Oh, look, girls,” said Hildegard, straightening up. “These two women are new here, and maybe one of them will want to take us all home with them! Myrt, Gert, turn around. Smile. Yes, show them your stuff, girls.”
Myrt elbowed Gert with her handle, and Gert got her back with a swift tap to the spout.
“I saw that,” said Hildegard. “Behave, girls. Do you want to get sent to the clearance shelf with Teapot Ella?”
The girls laughed uproariously. No antique shop owner in her right mind would send teapots as beautiful as they were back with the lowly specimens like Teapot Ella.
As usual, the teapots in the front case got the visitors’ attention almost immediately.
“Grace, look at this amazing red and gold teapot,” said Mercy. “Those stripes are so bold and vivid, and that gold trim is absolutely perfect. And look, these purple and green ones nearby are just as ornate!”
“I see what you mean,” said Grace, “but they’re just a little too perfect.” Then she whispered in a low voice so the shop owner couldn’t hear, “They’re a little on the gaudy side for me. Kind of stuffy.”
Hildegard sniffed in disdain when she heard that comment. Amateurs. Clearly, those women didn’t know a quality teapot when they saw one. Their loss.
Grace and Mercy slowly meandered through the shop, stopping to sort through vintage linens and recipe booklets. Mercy found a pretty blue apron she liked, and Grace found a couple of old cookie recipe booklets to inspire her Christmas baking. They were almost finished browsing when Mercy said, “Oh look, a clearance rack.”
Grace stepped over to see what her friend had found and immediately scanned the shelves. She stooped down and pulled out something she’d spotted on the bottom shelf. “Mercy, check this out!”
Grace held up a beautiful pink teapot that was missing its lid. The softly colored rose design was quite becoming, and Grace blew on the teapot, dislodging a small film of dust.
“No lid?” said Mercy.
Grace shook her head. “I guess that’s why it’s on clearance.” But Grace kept looking and spotted what certainly looked like a lid stuck back in a corner of that same shelf. She gently placed it on the teapot, and it was a perfect match. It was the loveliest teapot Grace had ever seen.
She held it up, and Mercy said, “You found the lid? It’s meant to be, then.”
Soon, the women were standing at the checkout counter in the middle of the store and paying for their purchases. The shop owner was handing over Mercy’s change when all three women heard a squeal and a creak from the front of the store. Three heads turned.
Then, a shattering sound filled the air. All eyes turned to that lighted display case. The glass shelf displaying the three teapots Mercy and Grace had seen earlier had suddenly crashed onto the shelf below. The women rushed up in time to see a sad, broken mixture of red, purple, and green porcelain.
Teapot Ella, already wrapped and inside a plastic bag, couldn’t see what had happened, but she feared the worst. For months now, she’d heard the shop owner telling her husband the hinge on that shelf was about to give way. Teapot Ella had warned her stepmother and stepsisters, but they had laughed off her concerns. Teapot Ella hoped she hadn’t just heard the muffled cries of their demise.
As Grace was saying her goodbyes to Mercy that afternoon, she added, “You know, I’ve always wanted a special vintage teapot that was prettier than any other, and I can’t believe I just found her back there for a song.”
As she was carefully ushered into her new home, Teapot Ella was excited to think of the new life she was about to begin. She wondered if there would be other teawares and whether they would accept her into the family.
With a soft thud, Teapot Ella was placed on the kitchen counter and released from the layers of tissue that had surrounded her. To her delight, she looked up into the face of the most tall, dark, and handsome electric tea kettle she had ever seen.
“Prince Warming!” she cried.
Teapot Ella’s new owner rinsed her out with warm water, added a few teaspoons of loose leaf tea, and pressed a button on Prince Warming. Soon, he and Teapot Ella were making beautiful tea together. All the unhappiness of her past was forgotten in the joy of being paired with the tea kettle she’d waited her whole life to meet.
And they lived happily ever after.