Andersen's Fairy Tales HTML version
The Emperor's New Clothes
Many years ago, there was an Emperor, who was so excessively fond of new clothes, that
he spent all his money in dress. He did not trouble himself in the least about his soldiers;
nor did he care to go either to the theatre or the chase, except for the opportunities then
afforded him for displaying his new clothes. He had a different suit for each hour of the
day; and as of any other king or emperor, one is accustomed to say, "he is sitting in
council," it was always said of him, "The Emperor is sitting in his wardrobe."
Time passed merrily in the large town which was his capital; strangers arrived every day at
the court. One day, two rogues, calling themselves weavers, made their appearance. They
gave out that they knew how to weave stuffs of the most beautiful colors and elaborate
patterns, the clothes manufactured from which should have the wonderful property of
remaining invisible to everyone who was unfit for the office he held, or who was
extraordinarily simple in character.
"These must, indeed, be splendid clothes!" thought the Emperor. "Had I such a suit, I might
at once find out what men in my realms are unfit for their office, and also be able to
distinguish the wise from the foolish! This stuff must be woven for me immediately." And
he caused large sums of money to be given to both the weavers in order that they might
begin their work directly.
So the two pretended weavers set up two looms, and affected to work very busily, though
in reality they did nothing at all. They asked for the most delicate silk and the purest gold
thread; put both into their own knapsacks; and then continued their pretended work at the
empty looms until late at night.
"I should like to know how the weavers are getting on with my cloth," said the Emperor to
himself, after some little time had elapsed; he was, however, rather embarrassed, when he
remembered that a simpleton, or one unfit for his office, would be unable to see the
manufacture. To be sure, he thought he had nothing to risk in his own person; but yet, he
would prefer sending somebody else, to bring him intelligence about the weavers, and their
work, before he troubled himself in the affair. All the people throughout the city had heard
of the wonderful property the cloth was to possess; and all were anxious to learn how wise,
or how ignorant, their neighbors might prove to be.
"I will send my faithful old minister to the weavers," said the Emperor at last, after some
deliberation, "he will be best able to see how the cloth looks; for he is a man of sense, and
no one can be more suitable for his office than be is."
So the faithful old minister went into the hall, where the knaves were working with all their
might, at their empty looms. "What can be the meaning of this?" thought the old man,
opening his eyes very wide. "I cannot discover the least bit of thread on the looms."
However, he did not express his thoughts aloud.