Once a powerful Emperor summoned the best tailor in the province to his presence. The Emperor was to make a public appearance on the morrow; those were few and far between, as the Emperor found common people dull and boring. The tailor would come back in the evening with an original costume fit for the occasion, or he would be disemboweled in public as part of the celebrations.
The tailor was of course terrified; not even he could work that fast, and any costume he managed to stitch together by the next day would not be of satisfactory quality. But he was a clever man, and thus the following day, he appeared before the Emperor with arms held out in front of him as if holding some bulky object, and said : "Sire, behold your costume - a truly unique creation, made as it is from the silks of a far away land; so soft to wear that you will hardly feel their touch on your skin, yet so mesmerizing in the play of light and color that all but the most afflicted morons will be unable to take their eyes off your admirable person.
The Emperor had been about to protest that he saw no costume here, and that the tailor had better explain fast if he valued his innards, but a word caught his attention. "Morons?
" Indeed, Sire. You will hardly credit this, I am sure, as I have seen how the fabric has caressed your august eye with its unique qualities, but it is told by the foreign weavers who buy it for me from its distant land of origin that the fabric is invisible to stupid persons. Oh, they have to be very, very stupid, of course.
" the Emperor replied archly. He had all of his courtiers come and admire his new costume. By then, of course, the story had been around the court; nobody knew exactly how
stupid you had to be not to see the magic costume, but everybody knew they
weren't about to give themselves away as stupid enough not to see it, and thus all praised the color, texture, and cut of this exceptional costume.
By the following morning, the story had been whispered from mouth to amazed ear in every corner of the city; a loud murmur of admiration for the Emperor's new clothes was heard as soon as the Emperor appeared at the gates of his palace. For the Emperor's people were all quite clever.
It all came crashing down, of course, when one very small voice piped up from the crowd and asked innocently, "Mommy, why is the Emperor bare-assed?
(as told to) [Not to be confused with "The King's New Clothes" (HansChristianAndersen?
That's odd. The translation of the Danish word kejser in the title of the fairy tale by HansChristianAndersen?
is Emperor, not King. Here is a link http://www.literaturecollection.com/a/andersen/306/
. I would assume that the story above and the one mentioned below are simply versions of Andersen's original, distorted by recollection. Absolutely my favorite fairy tale BTW.
Thanks for telling this so much more fully than my first lines.
Wonderful story of folly/vanity/sheeplike qualities of people who don't have the courage/honesty to burst the bubble of foolishness: a bit like a lot of EC Regulations! -- MartinNoutch
I am interested to note that the emphasis of this telling is precisely the opposite of how I had always heard it previously: As I'd heard it, the tailor was exploiting the Emperor, not vice-versa. -- DanielKnapp