Andersen's Fairy Tales HTML version
The impostors requested him very courteously to be so good as to come nearer their looms;
and then asked him whether the design pleased him, and whether the colors were not very
beautiful; at the same time pointing to the empty frames. The poor old minister looked and
looked, he could not discover anything on the looms, for a very good reason, viz: there was
nothing there. "What!" thought he again. "Is it possible that I am a simpleton? I have never
thought so myself; and no one must know it now if I am so. Can it be, that I am unfit for
my office? No, that must not be said either. I will never confess that I could not see the
"Well, Sir Minister!" said one of the knaves, still pretending to work. "You do not say
whether the stuff pleases you."
"Oh, it is excellent!" replied the old minister, looking at the loom through his spectacles.
"This pattern, and the colors, yes, I will tell the Emperor without delay, how very beautiful
I think them."
"We shall be much obliged to you," said the impostors, and then they named the different
colors and described the pattern of the pretended stuff. The old minister listened attentively
to their words, in order that he might repeat them to the Emperor; and then the knaves
asked for more silk and gold, saying that it was necessary to complete what they had
begun. However, they put all that was given them into their knapsacks; and continued to
work with as much apparent diligence as before at their empty looms.
The Emperor now sent another officer of his court to see how the men were getting on, and
to ascertain whether the cloth would soon be ready. It was just the same with this
gentleman as with the minister; he surveyed the looms on all sides, but could see nothing at
all but the empty frames.
"Does not the stuff appear as beautiful to you, as it did to my lord the minister?" asked the
impostors of the Emperor's second ambassador; at the same time making the same gestures
as before, and talking of the design and colors which were not there.
"I certainly am not stupid!" thought the messenger. "It must be, that I am not fit for my
good, profitable office! That is very odd; however, no one shall know anything about it."
And accordingly he praised the stuff he could not see, and declared that he was delighted
with both colors and patterns. "Indeed, please your Imperial Majesty," said he to his
sovereign when he returned, "the cloth which the weavers are preparing is extraordinarily
The whole city was talking of the splendid cloth which the Emperor had ordered to be
woven at his own expense.
And now the Emperor himself wished to see the costly manufacture, while it was still in the
loom. Accompanied by a select number of officers of the court, among whom were the two
honest men who had already admired the cloth, he went to the crafty impostors, who, as