THE EMPEROR REVISITED
By Daniel D. Ziegler
There has been much lost in many of the fables and myths passed down
through the ages. We wonder at the real meaning of many of them, of what
was going on at the time that would compel someone to write or tell such a
story. With others, they seem incomplete, something missing, something
lost. And so it has always seemed to me with the fable told by Hans
Christian Andersen The Emperor's New Clothes. A wonderful story with an
important lesson, yet in each of its many versions, there seems to be
something valuable missing, lost, maybe even something deliberately left
out. A glimpse was given to me of the real ending of the story several years
ago. I finally found the words to write it down. I'm sure Mr. Andersen would
not mind since I did not change his part of it at all.
The Emperor's New Clothes
By Hans Christian Andersen, with ending by Daniel D. Ziegler
Many years ago there lived an emperor who loved beautiful new clothes so
much that he spent all his money on being finely dressed. His only interest was
in going to the theater or riding about in his carriage where he could show off
his new clothes. He had a different costume for every hour of the day. Indeed,
where it was said of other kings that they were at court, it could only be said of
him that he was in his dressing room.
One day two swindlers came to the emperor's city. They said that they were
weavers, claiming that they knew how to make the finest cloth imaginable. Not
only were the colors and the patterns extraordinarily beautiful, but in addition,
this material had the amazing property that it was to be invisible to anyone
who was incompetent or stupid.
"It would be wonderful to have clothes made from that cloth," thought the
emperor. "Then I would know which of my men are unfit for their positions, and
I'd also be able to tell clever people from stupid ones." So he immediately
gave the two swindlers a great sum of money to weave their cloth for him.
They set up their looms and pretended to go to work, although there was
nothing at all on the looms. They asked for the finest silk and the purest gold
thread, all of which they hid away, continuing to work on the empty looms, often
late into the night.
"I would really like to know how they are coming with the cloth!" thought the
emperor, but he was a bit uneasy when he recalled that anyone who was unfit
for his position or stupid would not be able to see the material. Of course, he
himself had nothing to fear, but still he decided to send someone else to see
how the work was progressing.
"I'll send my honest old minister to the weavers," thought the emperor. He's the
best one to see how the material is coming. He is very sensible, and no one is
more worthy of his position than he.
So the good old minister went into the hall where the two swindlers sat
working at their empty looms. "Goodness!" thought the old minister, opening
his eyes wide. "I cannot see a thing!" But he did not say so.
The two swindlers invited him to step closer, asking him if it wasn't a beautiful
design and if the colors weren't magnificent. They pointed to the empty loom,
and the poor old minister opened his eyes wider and wider. He still could see
nothing, for nothing was there. "Gracious" he thought. "Is it possible that I am
stupid? I have never thought so. Am I unfit for my position? No one must know
this. No, it will never do for me to say that I was unable to see the material."
"You aren't saying anything!" said one of the weavers.
"Oh, it is magnificent! The very best!" said the old minister, peering through
his glasses. "This pattern and these colors! Yes, I'll tell the emperor that I am
very satisfied with it!"
"That makes us happy!" said the two weavers, and they called the colors and
the unusual pattern by name. The old minister listened closely so that he would
be able say the same things when he reported back to the emperor, and that
is exactly what he did.
The swindlers now asked for more money, more silk, and more gold thread, all
of which they hid away. Then they continued to weave away as before on the
The emperor sent other officials as well to observe the weavers' progress.
They too were startled when they saw nothing, and they too reported back to
him how wonderful the material was, advising him to have it made into clothes
that he could wear in a grand procession. The entire city was alive in praise of
the cloth. "Magnifique! Nysseligt! Excellent!" they said, in all languages. The
emperor awarded the swindlers with medals of honor, bestowing on each of
them the title Lord Weaver.
The swindlers stayed up the entire night before the procession was to take
place, burning more than sixteen candles. Everyone could see that they were
in a great rush to finish the emperor's new clothes. They pretended to take the
material from the looms. They cut in the air with large scissors. They sewed
with needles but without any thread. Finally they announced, "Behold! The
clothes are finished!"
The emperor came to them with his most distinguished cavaliers. The two
swindlers raised their arms as though they were holding something and said,
"Just look at these trousers! Here is the jacket! This is the cloak!" and so forth.
"They are as light as spider webs! You might think that you didn't have a thing
on, but that is the good thing about them."
"Yes," said the cavaliers, but they couldn't see a thing, for nothing was there.
"Would his imperial majesty, if it please his grace, kindly remove his clothes."
said the swindlers. "Then we will fit you with the new ones, here in front of the
The emperor took off all his clothes, and the swindlers pretended to dress him,
piece by piece, with the new ones that were to be fitted. They took hold of his
waist and pretended to tie something about him. It was the train. Then the
emperor turned and looked into the mirror.
"Goodness, they suit you well! What a wonderful fit!" they all said. "What a
pattern! What colors! Such luxurious clothes!"
"The canopy to be carried above your majesty awaits outside," said the
grandmaster of ceremonies.
"Yes, I am ready!" said the emperor. "Don't they fit well?" He turned once
again toward the mirror, because it had to appear as though he were admiring
himself in all his glory.
The chamberlains who were to carry the train held their hands just above the
floor as if they were picking up the train. As they walked they pretended to hold
the train high, for they could not let anyone notice that they could see nothing.
The emperor walked beneath the beautiful canopy in the procession, and all
the people in the street and in their windows said, "Goodness, the emperor's
new clothes are incomparable! What a beautiful train on his jacket. What a
perfect fit!" No one wanted it to be noticed that he could see nothing, for then it
would be said that he was unfit for his position or that he was stupid. None of
the emperor's clothes had ever before received such praise.
"But he doesn't have anything on!" said a small boy.
"Good Lord, let us hear the voice of an innocent child!" said the father, and
whispered to another what the child had said.
"A small child said that he doesn't have anything on!"
Finally everyone was saying, "He doesn't have anything on!"
The emperor shuddered, for he knew that they were right, but he thought, "The
procession must go on!" He carried himself even more proudly, and the
chamberlains walked along behind carrying the train that wasn't there.
And thus we have the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes as told to us for
many generations. But do not think for a moment the story ended there, for it
did not. Ending it there is a lie, a lie bigger than all the lies of the swindlers
and of the emperor’s subjects. But the lie of ending there is a lie to cover yet
another even bigger lie, the lie that the emperor had always believed about
himself, and the lie that most of us believe about ourselves. ddz
That night the emperor was troubled and could not sleep, for he knew that he
and his subjects had been made fools of by the swindlers. But he felt
something else too, a wonderful lightness he had not felt before, “almost as
light as a spider web,” he thought to himself.
The next day he had his cavaliers chase down the swindlers and bring them to
courtyard where he had all his subjects gather.
“I have been a fool,” the emperor, from beneath his canopy, again with nothing
on, announced to a curious, whispering crowd “I have been a fool long before
these two swindlers came to our city, but they helped me see my faulty ways.”
As his subjects now began to listen intently, he told them he now saw that his
passion over new clothes was an attempt to hide from the shame and
embarrassment he felt toward his body, and it was keeping him from his real
duties as their emperor. “When I was supposed to be taking care of matters of
the court, I was in my dressing room, obsessing over my new clothes,” the
emperor said. “I was incompetent and stupid, for what I could not see was the
magnificence of my own body.”
“Yesterday, during the procession,” he continued, “ I suddenly overcame my
embarrassment and shame, and I felt the freedom of no longer having to dress
this body for concealment or adornment, of it being perfect just the way it is. It
was a gift given to me by these two men who claim to be weavers. Indeed they
are,” he added, “yet what they wove for me was more precious than any
clothes. They wove for me an occasion to be myself, just as I am; and their lies
afforded me to see the biggest lie of all, the lie of fancy clothing behind which I
was living.” The crowd began to cheer.
“But I could not have seen any of this save the innocence of a small child who
saw and told the truth,” he continued, waving toward a small boy to come near
his side, “And I hereby bestow upon this boy the title of Lord Truthsayer.”
To a now jubilant crowd the emperor finished his proclamation. “Today, we
honor these three Lords with another procession; and I invite all to walk with
us, as I did yesterday, in all my glory, openly, honestly and proudly. And from
this day forward, it will be said of me, your emperor, “He attends to his duties,
not fine clothes.””
And everyone was happy, even the naked swindlers, and especially the
innocent small child, who would not ever have to know shame.
Copyright 2003 Daniel D. Ziegler
LESS-ONS FOR TRUTH
Reclaiming Acceptance of our Original State