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Hans Christian Andersen
The Emperor's New Suit
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Many, many years ago lived an emperor, who thought so much
of new clothes that he spent all his money in order to obtain them;
his only ambition was to be always well dressed. He did not care
for his soldiers, and the theatre did not amuse him. In fact, the
only thing that he thought anything of, was to drive out and
show a new suit of clothes. He had a coat for every hour of the
day; and as one would say of a king ?He is in his cabinet,? so one
could say of him, ?The emperor is in his dressing-room.?

The great city where he resided was very gay; every day
many strangers from all parts of the globe arrived. One day, two
swindlers came to this city; they made people believe that they
were weavers, and declared they could manufacture the finest
cloth to be imagined. Their colors and patterns, they said, were
not only exceptionally beautiful, but the clothes made of their
material possessed the wonderful quality of being invisible to
any man who was unfit for his office or unpardonably stupid.

?That must be wonderful cloth,? thought the emperor. ?If I
were to be dressed in a suit made of this cloth, I should be
able to find out which men in my empire were unfit for their
places, and I could distinguish the clever from the stupid. I
must have this cloth woven for me without delay.? And he
gave a large sum of money to the swindlers, in advance, that
they should set to work without any loss of time. They set up
two looms, and pretended to be very hard at work, but they
did nothing whatever on the looms. They asked for the finest
silk and the most precious gold-cloth; all they got they did
away with, and worked at the empty looms till late at night.

?I should very much like to know how they are getting on
with the cloth,? thought the emperor. But he felt rather
uneasy when he remembered that he who was not fit for his
office could not see it. Personally, he was of opinion that he
had nothing to fear, yet he thought it advisable to send
somebody else first to see how matters stood. Everybody
in the town knew what a remarkable quality the stuff
possessed, and all were anxious to see how bad or stupid
their neighbours were.

?I shall send my honest old minister to the weavers,? thought
the emperor. ?He can judge best how the stuff looks, for he is
intelligent, and nobody understands his office better than he.?

The good old minister went into the room where the
swindlers sat before the empty looms. ?Heaven preserve us!?
he thought, and opened his eyes wide, ?I cannot see anything
at all,? but he did not say so. Both swindlers requested him to
come near, and asked him if he did not admire the exquisite
pattern and the beautiful colors, pointing to the empty looms.
The poor old minister tried his very best, but he could see
nothing, for there was nothing to be seen. ?Oh dear,? he
thought, ?can I be so stupid? I should never have thought so,
and nobody must know it! Is it possible that I am not fit for my
office? No, no, I cannot say that I was unable to see the cloth.?

?Now, have you got nothing to say?? said one of the
swindlers, while he pretended to be busily weaving.

?Oh, it is very pretty, exceedingly beautiful,? replied the old
minister looking through his glasses. ?What a beautiful pattern,
what brilliant colors! I shall tell the emperor that I like the cloth
very much.?

?We are pleased to hear that,? said the two weavers. They
described to him the colors and explained the curious pattern.
The old minister listened attentively, that he might relate to the
emperor what they said; and so he did.

Now the swindlers asked for more money, silk and gold-cloth,
which they required for weaving. They kept everything for
themselves, and not a thread came near the loom, but they
continued, as hitherto, to work at the empty looms.

Soon afterwards the emperor sent another honest courtier to
the weavers to see how they were getting on, and if the cloth was
nearly finished. Like the old minister, he looked and looked but
could see nothing, as there was nothing to be seen.

?Is it not a beautiful piece of cloth?? asked the two swindlers,
showing and explaining the magnificent pattern, which, however,
did not exist.

?I am not stupid,? said the man. ?It is therefore my good
appointment for which I am not fit. It is very strange, but I must
not let any one know it;? and he praised the cloth, which he did
not see, and expressed his joy at the beautiful colours and the
fine pattern. ?It is very excellent,? he said to the emperor.

Everybody in the whole town talked about the precious
cloth. At last the emperor wished to see it himself, while it was
still on the loom. With a number of courtiers, including the two
who had already been there, he went to the two clever
swindlers, who now worked as hard as they could, but without
using any thread.

?Is it not magnificent?? said the two old statesmen who had
been there before. ?Your Majesty must admire the colors and
the pattern.? And then they pointed to the empty looms, for they
imagined the others could see the cloth.

?What is this?? thought the emperor, ?I do not see anything
at all. That is terrible! Am I stupid? Am I unfit to be emperor?
That would indeed be the most dreadful thing that could happen
to me.?

?Really,? he said, turning to the weavers, ?your cloth has our
most gracious approval;? and nodding contentedly he looked at
the empty loom, for he did not like to say that he saw nothing.
All his attendants, who were with him, looked and looked, and
although they could not see anything more than the others,
they said, like the emperor, ?It is very beautiful.? And all advised
him to wear the new magnificent clothes at a great procession
which was soon to take place. ?It is magnificent, beautiful,
excellent,? one heard them say; everybody seemed to be
delighted, and the emperor appointed the two swindlers
?Imperial Court weavers.?

The whole night previous to the day on which the procession
was to take place, the swindlers pretended to work, and burned
more than sixteen candles. People should see that they were
busy finishing the emperor?s new suit. They pretended to take
the cloth from the loom, and worked about in the air with big
scissors, and sewed with needles without thread, and said
at last: ?The emperor?s new suit is ready now.?

The emperor and all his barons then came to the hall; the
swindlers held their arms up as if they held something in their
hands and said: ?These are the trousers!? ?This is the coat!?
and ?Here is the cloak!? and so on. ?They are all as light as a
cobweb, and one must feel as if one had nothing at all upon
the body; but that is just the beauty of them.?

?Indeed!? said all the courtiers; but they could not see
anything, for there was nothing to be seen.

?Does it please your Majesty now to graciously undress,?
said the swindlers, ?that we may assist your Majesty in
putting on the new suit before the large looking-glass??

The emperor undressed, and the swindlers pretended to
put the new suit upon him, one piece after another; and the
emperor looked at himself in the glass from every side.

?How well they look! How well they fit!? said all. ?What a
beautiful pattern! What fine colors! That is a magnificent suit
of clothes!?

The master of the ceremonies announced that the
bearers of the canopy, which was to be carried in the
procession, were ready.

?I am ready,? said the emperor. ?Does not my suit fit me
marvelously?? Then he turned once more to the looking-glass,
that people should think he admired his garments.

The chamberlains, who were to carry the train, stretched
their hands to the ground as if they lifted up a train, and
pretended to hold something in their hands; they did not like
people to know that they could not see anything.

The emperor marched in the procession under the
beautiful canopy, and all who saw him in the street and out
of the windows exclaimed: ?Indeed, the emperor?s new suit
is incomparable! What a long train he has! How well it fits him!?
Nobody wished to let others know he saw nothing, for then
he would have been unfit for his office or too stupid. Never
were any emperor?s clothes more admired.

?But he has nothing on at all,? said a little child at last.

?Good heavens! listen to the voice of an innocent child,?
said the father, and one whispered to the other what the
child had said.

?But he has nothing on at all,? cried at last the whole

That made a deep impression upon the emperor, for it
seemed to him that they were right; but he thought to
himself, ?Now I must bear up to the end.? And the
chamberlains walked with still greater dignity, as if they
carried the train which did not exist.

Click above to listen to this quote!
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Read by: Jenny Aaron, Allison Karic (narrator), Ruby McCollister, and Kelsey Weber

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