Select the desired text size
Age suitability 8 Plus
Emperors new clothes.
From The Book of Stories for the Storyteller by Fanny E. Coe.
Press F5 to hear again
Start of Story
There once lived an Emperor who was so fond of fine clothes that he
spent great sums of money in order to be beautifully dressed. He cared
little about his army or other affairs of State; he did not care for
amusements; nothing pleased him so much as walking abroad to show off
his new clothes. He had a coat for every hour of the day; and as they
often say of a king, "He is in the council chamber," here it would
usually be, "The Emperor is at his toilet."
The great city in which he lived had always something fresh to show;
every day many strangers came there. One day two men arrived who said
that they were weavers, and knew how to manufacture the most beautiful
cloth imaginable. Not only were the material and texture uncommonly
beautiful, but clothes made of the stuff possessed this wonderful
property that they were invisible to anyone who was not fit for his
office, or who was very stupid.
"Those must indeed be splendid clothes," thought the Emperor.
"Besides, if I had an outfit, I could find out which of my servants
are unfit for the offices they hold; I should know the wise from the
stupid! Yes, this cloth must be woven for me." And he gave the men
much money that they might begin at once to weave their cloth.
Of course they were impostors, but they put together two looms, and
began to move about as if they were working, though they had nothing
whatever on the looms. They were also given quantities of the finest
silk and the best gold, which they hid.
"I wonder how far they have got on with the cloth," thought the
Emperor one day. He remembered that whoever was stupid or not fit for
his office would be unable to see the material. He certainly believed
that he had nothing to fear for himself, but he decided first to send
a high official in order to see how he stood the test. Everybody in
the whole town knew by this time what a wonderful power the cloth had,
and all were curious to see what was to happen.
"I will send my prime minister to the weavers," thought the Emperor.
"He can judge best what the cloth is like, for he is the wisest man in
Accordingly the old minister went to the hall where the impostors sat
working at the empty looms. "Dear me!" thought the old man, opening
his eyes wide, "I cannot see any cloth!" But he did not say so. "Dear,
dear!" thought he, "can I be stupid? Can I be not fit for my office?
No, I must certainly not admit that I cannot see the cloth!"
"Have you nothing to say?" asked one of the men.
"Oh, it is lovely, most lovely!" answered the old minister, looking
through his spectacles. "What smooth texture! What glowing colours!
Yes, I will tell the Emperor that it is certainly very fine."
"We are delighted to hear you say that," said both the weavers, and
they proceeded to name the colours and describe the appearance of the
The old minister listened with great attention, so that he could tell
the Emperor all about it on his return.
The impostors now demanded more money, and more silk and gold to use
in their weaving. They pocketed all, and went on as they had done
before, working at the empty loom. The Emperor soon sent another
official to report as to when the cloth would be finished. The
minister looked and looked, but there was nothing on the empty loom
and of course he could see nothing.
"Is it not a beautiful piece of cloth?" asked the impostors, and they
appeared to display material which was not there.
"Stupid I am not!" thought the minister, "so it must be that I am not
fitted for my office. It is strange certainly, but no one must be
allowed to notice it." And he, too, praised the cloth and pretended
delight at the beautiful colours and the splendid texture. "Yes, it is
indeed beautiful," he reported to the Emperor.
Everybody in the town was talking of the magnificent cloth, and the
Emperor decided to see it himself while it was still on the loom. With
a great crowd of courtiers, among whom were both the ministers who had
been there before, he went to the impostors, who were making believe
to weave with all their might.
"Is it not splendid!" said both the old statesmen. "See, your Majesty,
how fine is the texture! What remarkable colours!" And then they
pointed to the empty loom, believing that all but themselves could see
the cloth quite well.
"What is wrong?" thought the Emperor. "I can certainly see nothing!
This is indeed horrible! I must be stupid, or unfit to be Emperor! It
will never do to let it be known! Yes, it is indeed very beautiful,"
he said. "It has my entire approval."
And then he nodded pleasantly, and examined the empty loom with an
appearance of interest, for he would not admit that he could see
His courtiers, too, looked and looked, and saw no more than the
others; but they said like the Emperor, "Oh! it is beautiful!"
Everyone seemed so delighted that the Emperor gave to the impostors
the title of Weavers to the Emperor.
Now there was to be a State procession the following week and
throughout the night before and the morning of the day on which this
was to take place the impostors were working by the light of many
candles. The people could see that they appeared to be busy putting
the finishing touches to the Emperor's new clothes. They pretended
that they were taking the cloth from the loom; they cut nothing with
huge scissors, sewed with needles without thread, and at last said,
"The clothes are finished!"
The Emperor came himself with his favourites and each impostor held up
his arms as if he were showing something and said, "See! here are the
breeches! Here is the coat! Here the cloak!" and so on.
"Our clothes are so comfortable that one might imagine one had nothing
on; that is the beauty of them!"
"Yes," nodded the courtiers, although they could see nothing, there
being nothing there.
"Will it please your Majesty graciously to disrobe," said the
The Emperor took off all his clothes, and the men busied themselves as
if they were putting on various garments, while meantime the Emperor
surveyed himself in the mirror.
"How beautifully they fit! How well they suit his Majesty!" said
"If it please your Majesty, the procession is ready," announced the
Master of the Ceremonies.
"I am ready," said the Emperor. And he turned again to the mirror as
if to take a last admiring view of his finery.
The courtiers whose duty it was to bear the Emperor's train put their
hands near the floor as if to lift the train; then they acted as if
they were holding it up. They would not have it known that they could
So the Emperor strutted forward in the procession under a splendid
canopy, and the people in the streets and at the windows said, "How
grand are the Emperor's new clothes! What beautiful silk, how it
No one would admit that he could see nothing, for that would have
proved him unfit for his office, or stupid. None of the Emperor's
clothes had ever been so praised.
"But the Emperor has nothing on!" said a child at last.
"Listen to the innocent child!" said the father, and each one
whispered to his neighbour what the child had said.
"The Emperor has nothing on!" the people began to call out at last.
This seemed to the Emperor to be true; but he thought to himself, "I
must not stop now." And the courtiers walked behind him with pompous
air, gravely holding up the train which was not there.