The Emperor’s New Clothes

One clothes obsessed emperor meets two greedy weavers and together they weave the most peculiar tale.

The Emperor’s New Clothes 

by Hans Christain Anderson 

adapted for radio by Jules de Jongh

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Nanny Bea: Oh, why hello there and welcome do make yourselves comfortable. I’ll just scootch the kittens over, they like to crawl into my knitting basket when they think I’m not looking. Not that they can knit, no that would be ridiculous, goodness no, they prefer to crochet.

Did I tell you that I’m Nanny Bea and I like stories, almost as much as I like rich tea biscuits? (Which are far from rich and taste nothing of tea.) but some of you already know that as you’ve left messages for me on nannybea.com, with a wonder word.

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Today’s wonder word is…drum roll please.

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Splendiferous. Something is splendiferous when it’s excellent or gorgeous. Like that cardigan the kittens crocheted for me, it is simply splendiferous! Now that got their attention. I wonder if my neighbour Jules managed to squeeze it into the story, keep your ears open my listening friends. I’ve been trying to reach her on Zoom. Oh I see her but I can’t hear her.  Turn the sound on dear!

Jules:  How about now, can you hear me?

Nanny Bea: Yes dear but I can only see your forehead, and a lovely one it is indeed. I’ve brewed up my Lady Grey tea, oh now I see you’ve got yours in hand. 

Jules:  Tea in one hand and a tale in the other.  In today’s story we are reminded that sometimes what you see really is what you get especially when you’re an emperor who loves playing dress up. Are you ready for a story?

Nanny Bea: Yes please!!!

Jules: Okay then… The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Anderson, adapted for radio.

    Years on top of years ago there was an emperor who was so fond of new clothes that he spent all his money on them. He did not concern himself with his army; he cared nothing about the theatre or for driving about in the woods, except for the sake of showing off his new clothes. He had a costume for every hour in the day. Whenever anyone would enquire after the emperor, his staff would simply reply” The emperor is in his dressing room.” and most often they would be correct.

Life was jolly in the town around his palace, and as such it attracted many visitors. Among them there came two scallywags who went by the names of Ned and Fred. They declared themselves to be weavers of the most majestically magnificent, spectacularly splendiferous’ fabric. Not only were the colors and patterns uncommonly beautiful, but the clothes that were made of the fabric had the peculiar property of becoming invisible to every person who was unfit for the job they held or who was exceptionally foolish.

“Those must be valuable clothes,” thought the emperor. “By wearing them I should be able to discover which of the men in my empire are not fit for their posts. I should distinguish wise men from fools. Yes, I must order some of the fabric to be woven for me directly.” And he paid the ‘weavers’ a handsome sum of money in advance, as they required.

Without hesitation Ned and Fred, put up two looms which one would normally use to create fabric from thread. They called for a great quantity of the finest silks and of the purest gold thread, all of which were readily stuffed into their own bags, leaving the looms empty but they pretended to work till late into the night.

“I should like to know how those weavers are getting on with this fabric,” thought the emperor. But he felt a little odd when he recalled that those who were foolish or unfit for their job would not be able to see the material. Of course he had nothing to fear for himself, but still he thought it better to send someone else first, to see how the work was coming on. All the people in the town had heard of the peculiar property of the fabric, and every one was curious to see how foolish his neighbor might be.

“I will send my faithful old prime minister to the weavers,” thought the emperor. “He will be best capable of judging the fabric, for he is a man of sense and nobody is more fit for his job than he.”

So the worthy old minister went into the room where the two scallywags, Ned and Fred sat working at the empty looms. “Oh Good gracious!” 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.

Ned and Fred begged him to step a little nearer and asked him what he thought of the majestically magnificent, spectacularly splendiferous fabric, with its intricate patterns and exceptional coloring. They pointed to the empty loom as they did so, and the poor old minister kept staring as hard as he could—but without being able to see anything on it, for of course there was nothing there to see.

“Oh good gracious!” thought the old man. “Is it possible that I am a fool? I have never thought it, and nobody must know it. Is it true that I am not fit for my job? It will never do for me to say that I cannot see the fabric.”

“Well, sir, do you say nothing about the cloth?” asked Ned who was pretending to go on with his work.

“Oh, it is most elegant, most beautiful!” said the dazed old man, as he peered again through his spectacles. “What a fine pattern, and what fine colors! I will certainly tell the emperor how pleased I am with the fabric.”

“We’re glad of that,” said both the weavers; and then they named the colors and pointed out the special features of the fabric. To all of this the minister paid great attention, so that he might be able to repeat it to the emperor when he went back to him.

And now those cheating rogues called for more money, more silk, and more gold thread, to be able to proceed with the weaving, but they continued to put it all in their own pockets, and not a thread went into the fabric, though they went on as before, weaving at the empty looms.

After a little time the emperor sent another honest statesman to see how the weaving was progressing, and if the fabric would soon be ready. The same thing happened with him as with the minister. He gazed and gazed, but there was nothing but empty looms, he could see nothing else.

“Is this not an exquisite piece?” One might even say majestically magnificent, spectacularly splendiferous,’ said Ned and Fred, pointing to one of the looms and explaining the beautiful pattern and the colors which were not there to be seen.

“I am not foolish, I know I am not!” thought the man, “so it must be that I am not fit for my good job. It is very strange, but I must not let it be noticed.” So he praised the cloth he did not see and assured the weavers of his delight in the lovely colors and the exquisite pattern. “It is perfectly charming,” he reported to the emperor.

Everybody in the town was talking of the splendid cloth. The emperor thought he should like to see it himself while it was still on the loom. With a company of carefully selected men, among whom were the two worthy officials who had been there before, he went to visit the crafty impostors, who were working as hard as ever at the empty looms.

“Is it not majestically magnificent, spectacularly splendiferous?” said Ned and Fred to the honest statesmen. “See, your Majesty, what splendid colors, and what a pattern!” And they pointed to the looms, for they believed that others, no doubt, could see what they did not.

“I see nothing at all. This is terrible! Am I a fool?” thought the emperor. “Am I not fit to be emperor? Why nothing more dreadful could happen to me!” Then aloud he said, “Oh, it is very pretty! it has my highest approval.” He nodded with satisfaction as he gazed at the empty looms, for he would not betray that he could see nothing.

His companions 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 they weave a most splendid outfit for him to wear for the first time on the occasion of a great procession which was soon to take place.

“Splendid! Gorgeous! Magnificent!” went from mouth to mouth. All were equally delighted with the weavers’ workmanship. The emperor gave each one of the impostors an order of knighthood to be worn in their buttonholes, and the title Gentleman Weaver of the Imperial Court.

Before the day on which the procession was to take place, the weavers sat up the whole night, burning sixteen candles, so that people might see how anxious they were to get the emperor’s new clothes ready. 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 which had no thread in them. At last they said, “Now our clothes are finished.”

The emperor came to them himself with his grandest companions, and each of the rogues lifted his arm as if he held something, saying, “See! Here are the trousers! Here is the cloak with hand embroidered trim,” and so on. “It is as light as a spider’s web. One would almost feel as if one had nothing on, but that is the beauty of it!”

“Yes,” said all the companions, but they saw nothing, for there was nothing to see.

“Will your Majesty be graciously pleased to take off your clothes so that we may put on the new clothes here, before the great mirror?”

The emperor took off his clothes, Ned and Fred pretended to put on first one garment and then another of the new ones they had pretended to make. They pretended to fasten something round his waist and to tie on something. This they said was the train, and the emperor turned round and round before the mirror.

“How well you look in the new clothes.” “One could say majestically magnificent!” “Or even spectacularly splendiferous!” cried all the companions in turn.

“The canopy that is to be carried over your Majesty in the procession is waiting outside,” said the master of ceremonies.

“Well, I am ready,” replied the emperor. “Don’t the clothes look well?” and he turned round and round again in the mirror, to appear as if he were admiring his new costume.

The chamberlains who were to walk behind the emperor and carry the trailing cloak, stooped and put their hands near the floor as if  they were lifting it; then they pretended to be holding something in the air. They would not let it be noticed that they could see and feel nothing.

The royal party made their way to the street where the villagers had gathered for the great procession. Ned and Fred made their way out of town in the opposite direction.

As the emperor went along in the procession, under the splendid canopy, everyone in the streets shouted out, “How beautiful the emperor’s new clothes are! What a splendid cloak! And how well they fit!”

No one wanted to let it appear that he could see nothing, for that would prove them not fit for their job. None of the emperor’s clothes had attracted such praise before.

The cobbler’s youngest son had made his way to the front of the crowd. He saw the emperor under the splendid canopy wearing nothing but his undergarments so he spurted out “But he has nothing on!”

“He has nothing on, says the child, “Nothing on?” the crowd started to murmur until finally all the town’s people grew confident enough to declare, “But he has nothing on!” The emperor was startled by this, for he had a suspicion that they were right. But he thought, “I must carry on until the procession ends.” So in nothing more than his undergarments the Emperor strode all through the town as if he were dressed in the finest garment, for even more than the embarrassment of his lack of clothes he feared being seen as a fool for believing the most foolish of things. 

The end

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Nanny Bea:  Why thank you Jules, they were a right couple of scallywags indeed. They reminded me of the shop assistant who encouraged me to buy that unicorn onesie. I promise not to wear it in public again if you bring another tale next week?

Jules:  Of course! If you head over to our website you can find all our tales as soon as they’re ready. 

Thomas: Go to www.nannybea.com

Jules: Go there to find out more including how you can take part in the show.

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Mr Announcer: This has been a Toad in the Hole production for NannyBea.com.

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