1 Hans Christian Andersen The Emperor’s New Clothes Retold by Britt-Katrin Keson Re-edited by Ákos Lucza, senior Many years ago there lived an emperor1 who spent all of his money on new clothes. He did not care about his soldiers, or about the theatre, or about anything else. All he wanted to do was to show off2 his new clothes. The emperor had a different coat for every hour of the day. When people came to see him, his ministers never said, “The emperor is in a meeting”, they always said, “The emperor is changing his clothes.” One day two men arrived in the city where the emperor lived. They told everyone they were weavers3 and that they could weave4 the finest cloth5 in the world. The colours and the patterns6 of the cloth were very beautiful, they said. But the cloth was also invisible to anyone who was not fit for7 his job or who was very stupid! “Oh, that would be great!” thought the emperor when he heard about the two weavers. „If I wore clothes made of this cloth, I would be able to find out if any of my ministers are not fit for their jobs. I would be able to tell who was stupid and who was clever. Yes, I‟ve got to have these weavers make some new clothes for me!” And so the emperor gave the two men money and asked them to start weaving the cloth for him right away8. The weavers set up their looms9 and asked the emperor for gold and silk10 for the cloth. But they did not put any of it on their looms. Instead, they put it in their own pockets and pretended11 to start working on their empty looms. “I wonder how far they have got with the cloth,” said the emperor after a few days. But he was afraid to go and visit the weavers himself. What if he was not able to see the cloth they were weaving? Everyone in the city had heard about the cloth and wanted to find out who was stupid and who was clever. How could he be sure that he was clever enough to see the cloth? The emperor decided it was better to send his oldest minister to visit the two weavers. “He is very good at his job, so he will surely12 be able to see the cloth they are weaving.” 1 emperor [ ] = császár 2 to show off [ ] = felmutatni; hencegni; hivalkodni; kérkedni 3 weaver [ ] = takács 4 to weave (wove, woven) [ ] = fonni; szőni 5 cloth [ ] = ruhaanyag; szövet 6 pattern [ ] = minta 7 to be fit for [ ] = alkalmasnak/megfelelőnek lenni vmire 8 right away [ ] = azonnal; máris; rögtön; tüstént 9 loom [ ] = szövőszék 10 silk [ ] = selyem 11 to pretend [ ] = színlelni; tettetni; úgy tenni mintha… 12 surely [ ] = bizonyára; biztosan 2 So the old minister went to the two weavers, who were sitting at their looms pretending to work very hard. “My goodness!” he thought when he saw the looms. “I can‟t see anything at all!” The two weavers pointed to their looms. “Do you like the colours and the patterns of our cloth?” The minister closed and opened his eyes several times, but still he could not see anything. “Am I really that stupid?” he asked himself. “Well, nobody must know about this!” “Oh, how lovely!” he said to the weavers. “Those colours! And those patterns! I will tell the emperor right away that I like it very much!” “Oh, we are so happy that you like it,” said the two weavers. “Could you ask the emperor for more silk and gold? As you can see for yourself, it is very expensive to make this very fine cloth.” “Yes, yes, of course,” said the minister and hurried back to the emperor to tell him the wonderful news. A few days later, the emperor sent another one of his ministers to find out how the work was going. The minister looked and looked at the looms, but he could not see anything either. “I am not stupid,” he thought to himself, “therefore I must not be fit for my job. Nobody must find out about this!” And so he said to the weavers, “The cloth is really wonderful!” “Won‟t you come over and feel it?” one of the weavers asked. “It is really fine.” “Oh, yes,” said the minister and pretended to feel the cloth. “Yes, this really is very fine.” Now everyone in the whole city was talking about the beautiful cloth that the weavers were making for the emperor. The emperor decided that it was time for him to see the cloth himself. So he asked his servants to come with him to visit the two weavers. “Welcome, Your Majesty,” the weavers said. “We hope you like the colours and the patterns of the cloth we are making for you. As you can see, we are nearly finished.” They pointed to the empty looms. “What is this!” thought the emperor as he looked at their looms. “I can‟t see anything at all. Am I stupid? Or am I not fit to be emperor? This is just terrible!” To the weavers he said, “Oh, it is really pretty! Those colours are just right for me.” The emperor‟s servants looked down at the empty looms and could not believe their own eyes. Where was the cloth? “Oh, Your Majesty, you are right! It really is wonderful!” they said. “Your Majesty must have this lovely cloth made into clothes to show to your people.” “Yes,” said the emperor. “I will show the clothes to my people.” 3 That night, the weavers worked very hard. They knew that people were curious and were looking in through their windows. So they pretended to take the cloth from the looms. Then they took a pair of scissors, held up their arms and cut through the air. They sat down and began sewing the cloth with an empty needle. Early the next morning, they jumped up and said, “Now the clothes are ready!” The emperor came together with his servants and his best soldiers. The two weavers held up their arms and began showing the emperor his new clothes. “See, Your Majesty, here are the trousers! And here is the coat! They are both so light that you will think you have nothing on. That is what is so beautiful about these clothes!” “Oh, yes, we see,” said the soldiers, who couldn‟t see anything at all. “Now would Your Majesty like to take your clothes off, so you can try on these new clothes?” The emperor took off his clothes, and the two weavers helped him put the new clothes on. “Oh, yes,” said the emperor and turned round and round in front of the mirror. “These clothes fit me so well! And these colours look so good on me! Now I am ready to show off my new clothes to my people!” The emperor‟s servants did not dare to say anything. They pretended to pick up the ends of the emperor‟s coat and followed him out through the door. Then the emperor walked proudly through the streets of the city to show his new clothes to his people. Everyone shouted, “Oh, the emperor‟s new clothes are so beautiful! They are the finest clothes we have ever seen! Look how well they fit him!” “But he isn‟t wearing anything!” a little boy suddenly shouted. His father tried to take him be quiet, but people started looking at each other and saying, “Yes, that boy is right! The emperor isn‟t wearing anything!” The emperor heard this, and he knew in his heart that the people were right. But he continued to walk slowly through the streets, showing off his fine new clothes. Questions 1. What does the emperor like to do most of all? 2. What do the two weavers say about their cloth? 3. What does the old minister see when he visits the weavers? What does he say? 4. What do the weavers do at night when they know people are looking in through the windows? 5. What happens when the emperor shows off his new clothes to his people?