Many years ago there was an Emperor, who was so excessively fond
of new clothes that he spent all his money on them. He cared nothing about his soldiers, nor for the theater
, nor for driving in the woods except for the sake of showing off his new clothes. He had a costume
for every hour in the day, and instead of saying, as one does about any other king or emperor
, 'He is in his council chamber
,' here one always said, 'The Emperor is in his dressing-room.'
Life was very gay in the great town where he lived; hosts of strangers came to visit it every day and among them one day two swindlers. They gave themselves out as weavers and said that they knew how to weave
the most beautiful stuff imaginable
. Not only were the colours and patterns unusually fine, but the clothes that were made of the stuff had the peculiar quality
of becoming invisible
to every person who was not fit
for the office
he held, or if he was impossibly dull
He paid the two swindlers a lot of money in advance
so that they might
begin their work at once.
They did put up two looms and pretended to weave
, but they had nothing whatever upon their shuttles. At the outset, they asked for a quantity
of the finest silk
, and the purest gold thread
, all of which they put into their own bags, while they worked away at the empty
looms far into the night.
I should like to know how those weavers are getting on with the stuff,' thought
the Emperor; but he felt a little queer when he reflected that anyone who was stupid or unfit
for his post would not be able
to see it. He certainly thought
that he need
have no fears for himself, but still, he thought
he would send somebody else first to see how it was getting on. Everybody in the town knew what wonderful power
the stuff possessed, and everyone was anxious
to see how stupid his neighbour was.
I will send my faithful
to the weavers,' thought
the Emperor. 'He will be best able
to see how the stuff looks, for he is a clever
man, and no one fulfills his duties better than he does!'
So the good old minister
went into the room where the two swindlers sat working at the empty loom
the old minister
, opening his eyes very wide. 'Why, I can't see a thing!' But he took care not to say so.
Both the swindlers begged him to be good enough to step a little nearer and asked if he did not think it a good pattern
and beautiful colouring. They pointed to the empty loom
, and the poor old minister
stared as hard as he could, but he could not see anything, for of course there was nothing to see.
Good heavens!' thought
he, 'is it possible
that I am a fool. I have never thought
so, and nobody must know it. Am I not fit
for my post? It will never do to say that I cannot see the stuff.
Well, sir, you don't say anything about the stuff,' said the one who was pretending to weave
Then the swindlers went on to demand
more money, more silk
, and more gold, to be able
with the weaving; but they put it all into their own pockets—not a single strand
was ever put into the loom
, but they went on as before weaving at the empty loom
The Emperor soon sent another faithful official
to see how the stuff was getting on, and if it would soon be ready. The same thing happened to him as to the minister
; he looked and looked, but as there was only the empty loom
, he could see nothing at all.
Is not this a beautiful piece of stuff?' said both the swindlers, showing and explaining the beautiful pattern
and colours which were not there to be seen.
I know I am not a fool!' thought
the man, 'so it must be that I am unfit
for my good post! It is very strange
, though! However, one must not let it appear!' So he praised the stuff he did not see and assured them of his delight
in the beautiful colours and the originality
of the design
. 'It is absolutely charming
!' he said to the Emperor. Everybody in the town was talking about this splendid
Now the Emperor thought
he would like to see it while it was still on the loom
. So, accompanied by a number of selected courtiers, among whom were the two faithful
officials who had already seen the imaginary
stuff, he went to visit the crafty
impostors, who were working away as hard as ever they could at the empty loom
the Emperor; 'I see nothing at all! This is terrible! Am I a fool? Am I not fit
to be Emperor? Why nothing worse could happen to me!
Oh, it is beautiful!' said the Emperor. 'It has my highest approval
!' and he nodded his satisfaction
as he gazed at the empty loom
. Nothing would induce
him to say that he could not see anything.
The whole suite
gazed and gazed, but saw nothing more than all the others. However, they all exclaimed with his Majesty, 'It is very beautiful!' and they advised him to wear a suit
made of this wonderful
cloth on the occasion
of a great procession
which was just about to take place. 'It is magnificent
! Gorgeous! Excellent!' went from mouth to mouth; they were all equally delighted
with it. The Emperor gave each of the rogues an order of knighthood to be worn in their buttonholes and the title
of 'Gentlemen Weavers.'
The swindlers sat up the whole night, before the day on which the procession
was to take place, burning sixteen candles; so that people might
see how anxious
they were to get the Emperor's new clothes ready. They pretended to take the stuff off the loom
. They cut it out in the air with a huge pair
of scissors, and they stitched away with needles without any thread
in them. At last, they said: 'Now the Emperor's new clothes are ready!
The Emperor, with his grandest courtiers, went to them himself, and both the swindlers raised one arm in the air, as if they were holding something, and said: 'See, these are the trousers, this is the coat, here is the mantle
!' and so on. 'It is as light as a spider's web. One might
think one had nothing on, but that is the very beauty of it!'
Yes!' said all the courtiers, but they could not see anything, for there was nothing to see.
Will your imperial
Majesty be graciously pleased to take off your clothes,' said, the impostors, 'so that we may put on the new ones, along here before the great mirror?'
The Emperor took off all his clothes, and the impostors pretended to give him one article
of the dress after the other of the new ones which they had pretended to make. They pretended to fasten
something round his waist and to tie
on something; this was the train
, and the Emperor turned round and round in front of the mirror.
How well his Majesty looks in the new clothes! How becoming
they are!' cried all the people round. 'What a design
, and what colours! They are most gorgeous
is waiting outside which is to be carried over your Majesty in the procession
,' said the master
of the ceremonies.
Well, I am quite ready,' said the Emperor. 'Don't the clothes fit
well?' and then he turned round again in front of the mirror so that he should seem to be looking at his grand things.
The chamberlains who were to carry
stooped and pretended to lift it from the ground with both hands, and they walked along with their hands in the air. They dared not let it appear that they could not see anything.
Then the Emperor walked along in the procession
under the gorgeous canopy
, and everybody in the streets and at the windows exclaimed, 'How beautiful the Emperor's new clothes are! What a splendid train
! And they fit
!' Nobody would let it appear that he could see nothing, for then he would not be fit
for his post, or else he was a fool.
None of the Emperor's clothes had been so successful
But he has got nothing on,' said a little child.
Oh, listen to the innocent
,' said its father; and one person whispered to the other what the child had said. 'He has nothing on; a child says he has nothing on!
But he has nothing on!' at last cried all the people.
The Emperor writhed, for he knew it was true, but he thought
must go on now,' so held himself stiffer than ever, and the chamberlains held up the invisible train