The Emperor's New Clothes

By Hans Christian Andersen - A Synopsis

This is a parabolic vignette associated with the document What is Wrong With MLM FAQ.


... Among them there came one day two rascals who gave themselves out as weavers, and said that they knew how to weave the most exquisite stuff imaginable. Not only were the colors and patterns uncommonly beautiful, but clothes that were made of the stuff had the peculiar property of becoming invisible to every person who was unfit for the office he held or who was exceptionally stupid.

"Those must be valuable clothes," thought the emperor... and he paid the swindlers a handsome sum of money in advance, as they required.

As for them, they put up two looms and pretended to be weaving, though there was nothing whatever on their shuttles. They called for a quantity of the finest silks and of the purest gold thread, all of which went into their own bags, while they worked at their empty looms till late into the night.

"I should like to know how those weavers are getting on with the stuff," thought the emperor... "I will send my faithful old prime minister to the weavers."

So the worthy old minister went into the room where the two swindlers sat working the empty looms. "Heaven save us!" thought the old man, opening his eyes wide. "Why, I can't see anything at all!" But he took care not to say so aloud....

"Well, sir, do you say nothing about the cloth?"... "Oh, it is most elegant, most beautiful!" said the dazed old man, as he peered through his spectacles. "What a fine pattern, and what fine colors! I will certainly tell the emperor how pleased I am with the stuff."

"We are glad of that," said the weavers.... And now the cheats called for more money, more silk, and more gold thread, to be able to proceed with the weaving, but they put it all into their own pockets... and they went on as before, weaving at the empty looms....

Everybody in town was talking of the splendid cloth. The emperor thought he would like to see it himself while it was still on the loom....

"What! " thought the emperor. "I see nothing at all. This is terrible! Am I a fool? Am I not fit to be emperor? Why nothing more dreadful could happen to me!"

"Oh, it is very pretty! It has my highest approval," the emperor said aloud....

His whole court gazed and gazed, each seeing no more than the others, but, like the emperor, they all exclaimed, "Oh, it is beautiful!" They even suggested to the emperor that he wear the splendid new clothes for the first time on the occasion of a great procession which was soon to take place....

The emperor gave each of the impostors an order of knighthood to be worn in their buttonholes and the title Gentleman Weaver of the Imperial Court....

They pretended to take the stuff from the loom, they cut it out in the air with huge scissors, and they stitched away with needles that had no thread in them. At last they said, "Now the clothes are finished."

The emperor took off his clothes, and the rogues pretended to put on first one garment and then another of the new ones they had pretended to make.... "How well his Majesty looks in the new clothes!" "How becoming they are!" cried all the courtiers in return. "That is a splendid costume!"

"Well, I am ready," replied the emperor. "Don't the clothes look well?" and he turned around and around again before the mirror, to appear as if he were admiring his new clothes....

So the emperor went along in his procession... and everyone in the streets said, "How beautiful the emperor's new clothes are!.... And how well they fit!"

No one wanted to let it appear that he could see nothing, for that would prove him not fit for his post....

"BUT HE HAS NOTHING ON!" said a little child....

"But he has nothing on," cried all the people.

The emperor was startled by this, for he had a suspicion that they were right. But he thought, "I must face this out to the end and go on with the procession." So he held himself more stiffly than ever, and the chamberlains held up the train that was not there at all.


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