The Emperor's New Clothes

The Emperor's New Clothes

Barbara Hoag Gordon

Once there was an emperor who needed a new set of clothes to wear in the grand parade. He called two of his finest cloth weavers to order one. They looked at each other and decided this would be a chance to make a little extra money from the deal.

“Oh Emperor,” one said, “We have invented the most marvelous cloth. It’ll cost you a little extra, but it is magic. It’s so magic that people can’t see it if they are stupid or if they’re lazy, or not good at their job. So not only will your majesty look your absolute royal best, you will also be able to tell IMMEDIATELY who you should fire from their jobs.”

The Emperor thought, I’ve been wondering who those people are. “I'll take it,” he said.

Off went the weavers to work…. oh, but they were slow. The Emperor sent in one of his wisest advisors to check on their progress. When he got there, he saw the two of them doing nothing at all. It looked like they were waving their hands back and forth in front of the loom, but there was no cloth coming out. Still, he didn’t want the Emperor to think he was dumb, or lazy, so he rushed back and said, “It’s awesome. You’ll love it.”

Finally, the day arrived, and the weavers brought the “suit” in to the Emperor to try on. I have it here in this bag. [Pantomime laying out a suit of clothes.] What do you think? Pretty great, isn’t it?

Well, the Emperor thought the same thing. He felt a wave of panic. Oh no! Am I one of the dumb, lazy people? He couldn’t say that, so he asked them to help him put it on. He felt embarrassed when he looked in the mirror, because it looked like he was wearing nothing! But the weavers pulled here and creased there, and then they oohed and ahhed and admired how wonderful it looked on him. Then it was time for the grand parade and the Emperor's big entrance.

Everyone cheered loudly for the acrobats, dancers and horses. Then out came the Emperor – completely… naked. Everyone got really quiet. Then someone said, “Huzzah for the Emperor!” And another person said, “He, looks like um, a new man!”

But one little boy said, “He’s not wearing any clothes!” And the parade stopped.

I think we should make up an ending to this story. What do you think happened after that?

[After some guesses:] Well, you just don’t know what’s going to happen when you tell the truth. That’s why it’s a brave thing to do. But it’s always important to speak up.