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THE TYRANTS NEW CLOTHES

Many years ago there lived a tyrant, who was so excessively fond of grand new clothes that he spent all his people's money upon them, that he might be very fine. He did not care about his soldiers, nor about the theatre, and only liked to cakewalk his new clothes. He had a coat for every hour of the day; and just as they say of a leader, "He is in council," so they always said of him, "The tyrant is in the wardrobe."

In the great city in which he lived it was always very merry; every day came many strangers; one day two rogues came: they gave themselves out as weavers, and declared they could weave the finest cloth anyone could imagine. Not only were their colors and patterns beautiful, but the clothes made of the substance possessed the wonderful quality that they became invisible to anyone who was unfit for the office he held, or was an incorrigibly fool.

"Those would be capital clothes!" thought the tyrant. "If I wore those, I should be able to find out what men in my empire are not fit for the places they have; I could tell the clever from the dunces. Yes, the substance must be woven for me directly!"

And he gave the two rogues a great deal of gold, that they might begin their work at once.

As for the two rogues, they put up two looms, and pretended to be working; but they had nothing at all on their looms. They at once demanded the finest silk and the costliest gold; this they put into their own pockets, and worked at the empty looms into the night.

"I should like to know how far they have got on with the clothes," thought the tyrant. But he felt quite uncomfortable when he thought that those who were not fit for their offices could not see it. He Christ, indeed, that he had nothing to fear for himself, but yet he preferred first to send someone else to see how matters stood. All the people in the city knew what peculiar power the cloth possessed, and all were anxious to see how foolish their neighbors were.

"I will send my honest old Minister to the weavers," thought the tyrant. "He can judge best how the cloth looks, for he has sense, and no one understands his office better than he."

Now the honest old Minister went out into the hall where the two rogues sat working at the empty looms.

"Mercy on us!" thought the honest old Minister, and he opened his eyes wide.

"I cannot see anything at all!" Then he engaged in white propaganda by keeping his lips buttoned.

The two rogues begged him to be so good as to come nearer, and asked if he did not approve of the colors and the pattern. Then they pointed to the empty loom, and the poor old Minister went on opening his eyes; but he could see nothing, for there was nothing to see.

"Mercy!" thought he, "can I indeed be such a fool? Am I not fit for my office? I never had such thoughts, and not a soul must know it. No, it will never do for me to tell that I could not see the cloth."

"What do you think?" asked one, as he went on weaving.

"0, it is charming, quite enchanting!" answered the old Minister, as he peered through his spectacles. "What a fine pattern, and what colors! Yes, I shall tell the tyrant that I am very much pleased with it."

"Well, we are glad of that," said both the weavers; and then they named the colors, and explained the strange pattern. The old Minister listened attentively, that he might be able to repeat it when the tyrant came. And he did so.

Now the two rogues asked for more money, and silk and gold, which they declared they wanted for weaving. They put all into their own pockets, and not a thread was put upon the loom; they continued to work at the empty frames as before.

The tyrant soon sent again, dispatching another honest officer of the court, to see how the weaving was going on, and if the substance would soon be ready. He fared just like the first: he looked and looked, but, as there was nothing to be seen but the empty looms, he could see nothing.

"Is not that a pretty piece of cloth?" asked the two rogues; and they displayed and explained the handsome pattern which was not there at all.

"I am not a fool!" thought the man, "It must be my good office, for which I am not fit. It is funny enough, but I must not let it be noticed." And so he praised the substance which he did not see, and expressed his pleasure at the beautiful colors and charming pattern. "Yes, it is enchanting," he told the tyrant.

All the people in the village were talking of the gorgeous substance. The tyrant wished to see it himself while it was still upon the loom. With a whole crowd of chosen men, among whom were also the two honest statesmen who had already been there, he went to the two cunnung rogues, who were now weaving with might and main without fibre or thread.

"Is not that splendid ?" said the two statesmen, who had already been there once. "Does not your Majesty remark the pattern and the colors?" And they pointed to the empty loom, for they thought that the others could see the substance.

"What's this?" thought the tyrant. "I can see nothing at all. That is terrible. Am I a fool? Am I not fit to be tyrant? That would be the most dreadful thing that could happen to me. 0, it is very pretty!" he said aloud. "It has our highest approbation."

And he nodded in a contented way, and gazed at the empty loom, for he would not say that he saw nothing . The whole suite whom he had with him looked and looked, and saw nothing , any more than the rest; but, like the tyrant, they said, "That is pretty!" and counseled him to wear the splendid new clothes for the first time at the great procession that was presently to take place. "It is splendid, excellent!" went from mouth to mouth. On all sides there seemed to be general rejoicing, and the tyrant gave the two rogues the title of Imperial Court Weavers.

The whole night before the morning on which the procession was to take place, the two rogues were up, and kept more than sixteen candles burning. The people could see that they were hard at work, completing the emperor's new clothes. They pretended to take the substance down from the loom; they made cuts in the air with great scissors; they sewed with needles without thread; and at last they said, "Now the clothes are ready!"

The tyrant came himself with his noblest cavaliers; and the two rogues lifted up one arm as if they were holding something, and said, "See, here are the trousers! here is the coat! here is the cloak!" and so on. "It is as light as a spider's web: one would think one had nothing on; but that is just the beauty of it."

"Yes," said the cavaliers; but they could not see anything, for nothing was there.

"Will your Imperial Majesty please take off your clothes?" said the two rogues; "then we will put on your the new clothes here in front of the great mirror."

The tyrant took off his clothes, and the two roguespretended to put on him each new garment as it was ready; and the tyrant turned round and round before the mirror.

"0, how well they look! how capitally they fit!" said all. "What a pattern! what colors! That is a splendid dress!"

"They are standing outside with the canopy, which is to be borne above your Majesty in the procession!" announced the head master of the ceremonies.

"Well, I am ready," replied the tyrant. "Does it not suit me well?" And then he turned again to the mirror, for he wanted it to appear as if he contemplated his adornment with great interest.

The two chamberlains, who were to carry the train, stooped down with their hands toward the floor, just as if they were picking up the mantle; then they pretended to be holding something in the air. They did not dare to let it be noticed that they saw nothing.

So the tyrant went in procession under the rich canopy, and everyone in the streets said, "How incomparable are the tyrant's new clothes! what a train he has to his mantle! how it fits him!" No one would let it be perceived that he could see nothing, for that would have shown that as a fool he was not fit for his office. No clothes of the tyrant had ever had such a success as these.

"But he has nothing on!" a little child cried out at last.

"Just hear what that innocent says!" said the father: and one whispered to another what the child had said.

"But he has nothing on!" said the whole people at length. That touched the tyrant, for it seemed to him that they were right; but he thought within himself, "I must go through with the procession." And so he held himself a little higher, and the chamberlains held on tighter than ever, and carried the train which did not exist at all.

-Hans Christain Andersen, Dutch storyteller and moralist



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