Several years ago, there was an emperor who was so fond of new clothes that he spent all his money on them. He didn't concern himself with ruling the land or even about his army! The only time he came out of his palace was when he wanted to show himself off in new clothes. He had a costume for every hour of the day. The weavers of the land were paid more handsomely than even the Prime Minister.
Life was merry and joyful in the town where the emperor lived, and several foreigners came to it every day. Among them one day came two rascals, who gave themselves out as weavers and said that they knew how to weave the most exquisite stuff imaginable. They claimed that the clothes were made of threads that had the peculiar property of becoming invisible to every person who was exceptionally stupid.
"Those must be valuable clothes", thought the emperor. He thought to himself, "By wearing them I should be able to distinguish the wise men from the fools." Having thought so, he ordered a large set of clothes and he paid the swindlers a huge sum of money in advance, as they required. As for them, they put up two looms (handlooms) and pretended to be weaving, even though there was nothing whatsoever on their shuttles. They asked for a bunch of the finest silks and the purest gold thread, all of which went into their own bags, while they pretended to weave an invisible thread.
"I must know how those weavers are getting on with the clothes", thought the emperor. He decided to send his old faithful prime minister to the weavers. "He will be best capable of judging the work, for he is a man of sense and nobody is more fit for his office than he." So the worthy old minister went into the room where the two swindlers sat pretending to work on the empty looms. The prime minister was shocked! He was unable to see the thread. He took care not to tell anyone about it, as people would then deem him to be stupid, and he would lose his post. He even went on to praise the weavers for their work. He said to them, "What a fine pattern! And what colours! I will certainly tell the emperor how pleased I am with the stuff."
The fraudulent weavers were pleased as their plan had worked perfectly. They even called for more money, more silk and more gold thread in order to proceed with the weaving. They put it all into their own pockets, and not a single thread went into the so-called invisible clothes that they were weaving. They went on as before, weaving at the empty looms.
A little while later, the emperor sent another statesman to see how the weaving had progressed. The same thing happened with him as with the minister. He gazed and gazed, but as there was nothing but empty looms, he could see nothing else. "I am not stupid, I know I am not! I must not let it be noticed", thought the statesman. "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 prime minister and the statesman, he went to visit the crafty impostors, who were pretending to work as hard as ever at the empty looms.
"What!" thought the emperor. "I see nothing at all. This is terrible! Am I a fool? Nothing more dreadful could happen to me!"
"Oh, it is very pretty! It has my highest approval", he lied to the weavers, for he didn't want to reveal to everyone that he could be stupid. 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 even went on to give the weavers an order of knighthood.
On the night before the procession, the weavers pretended to work extremely hard. Finally they exclaimed, "It is done." Next morning, the emperor came to them himself with his grandest courtiers, and each of the rogues lifted his arm as if he held something, saying, "See! Here are the trousers! Here is the coat! Here is the cloak" 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!" they said to convince the emperor that he would actually be wearing something.
The emperor took off his clothes, and the rogues pretended to put on the garments one after another. The emperor turned around and around before the mirror, pretending that he was able to see the clothes. "How well his Majesty looks in the new clothes! How becoming they are!" cried all the courtiers in turn. "Well, I am ready", replied the emperor. "Don't the clothes look well?" and he turned around before the mirror, to appear as if he were admiring his new costume.
So the emperor went along in the procession. None of the citizens could see any clothes, but they still lied and praised the emperor, so as to not offend him. So, they all cheered for him, even though he wore nothing.
"But he has nothing on!" said a little child. All the little children started laughing at the emperor, as they were too young to lie. Too embarrassed to do anything else, the emperor ran back to his dressing room. He finally admitted to his ministers that he had lied about seeing the clothes. He was also outraged by the fact that the ministers too had lied to him. The crafty impostors posing as weavers were jailed and the silk and gold threads that they had kept for themselves were seized! The emperor had exquisite and royal clothes made for all the children of the land. He resolved to never lie again, and as did the ministers. Every year on that day, all the children of the land were made to parade around in fancy clothes for what they called a "Fancy Dress Competition", and the kid with the best costume got to visit the king and enjoy a royal feast with him.
(Note: The moral of this story is to say the truth no matter what the consequences, as it would definitely help us in the long run. As our elders repeatedly tell us, Honest really is the best policy!)