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 colours and the pattern." And then
they pointed to the empty looms, for they imagined the others could see
"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
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 to finish 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 colours! 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 marvellously?"
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
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
emperor's clothes were 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 people. 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.