Once upon a time, there was an emperor. Now, the emperor was quite a greedy man. He spent much of the empire’s money on hats, shoes, wigs, crowns, furs, jewels, cloaks, tunics, breeches, and fancy shoulder pads.
Simple to say: the emperor loved to be dressed in the finest apparel.
One fine summer’s day, the emperor awoke from his chambers in a huff. He shuffled through his undershirts, stockings, and trousers, but he could find nothing he wanted to wear; he skimmed through his breeches, tunics, and shoes, but he could find nothing he wanted to wear; he even examined his wigs, hats, furs and cloaks, crowns, jewels, and fancy shoulder pads, but he could find NOTHING he wanted to wear.
“Geoffrey! Smith! Come in here!” the emperor called to two of his most trusted advisors.
The two men burst through the emperor’s chamber door; both were dressed extravagantly in the finest silks and rarest gems.
‘What is it, Your Majesty?” Geoffrey asked as he bowed his head to the emperor – who was still dressed in his white night gown.
“We are at your service,” agreed Smith, bowing as well.
The emperor, then, recited a long speech concerning how he had absolutely nothing to wear. Geoffrey and Smith exchanged odd looks as the emperor spoke while throwing around piles of clothes and fur.
“The procession is in just three days. I must have the finest outfit to wear on this occasion. Send an announcement throughout the empire! Find me the finest tailor in all the land,” the emperor finally demanded, throwing on a pair of silk trousers, a gold-coated tunic, fuschia shoulder pads, and a large lavender wig topped with a pearl encrusted crown. He sighed at his reflection in the mirror.
“See? Nothing to wear,” he claimed as Geoffrey and Smith, again, exchanged questioning looks.
That day, Geoffrey and Smith sent out messengers all over the empire, searching far and wide for the perfect tailor.
That same day, the emperor, Geoffrey, and Smith were sitting in the game room gambling when they heard two consecutive knocks on the door.
Smith ran and opened this door to find a servant standing with two slim looking twins behind him.
“Presenting the Lesaew Brothers of Vleslily, who claim to be the finest tailors in all the land,” said the servant before bowing his head and exiting from the emperor’s presence.
The lanky twins walked into the room. Moving in unison, they approached where the emperor was sitting; they bowed their heads and smiled slyly at each other.
“Good day, Emperor. We have heard the concerns regarding your… troubles,” they both chimed, scanning the emperor’s apparel. Again, each twin smiled slyly at the other.
“And you think yourselves fit for such a task?” boasted the king standing tall with pride. He pushed his chest out and trotted around the games room.
“Oh, why… Yes, emperor… Your highness,” they purred as they bowed once more.
“Our fabrics come to us from the most magical of places; our threads are woven by the most magnificent of spiders; and our jewels are dug from the deepest earth,” the first Lesaew brother spoke, slithering around the emperor like a snake.
“The whole empire already revels in your impressive stature and prowess –” the second brother began, sliding behind the emperor while smiling at his brother.
“– but just imagine the celebrations that will take place after the entire kingdom sees you in the most impressive outfit design they have ever set eyes on!” finished the first. Both brothers were now gripping the emperor close.
Watching the whole ordeal, Smith and Geoffrey now exchanged suspicious looks. The emperor turned to the Lesaew brothers and beamed:
“How splendid! How wonderfully splendid!”
The emperor clapped his hands in delight. “Geoffrey! Smith! See to it that our revered guests are given only the finest amenities. Also, pay them handsomely,” the emperor demanded.
Geoffrey and Smith led the Lesaew brothers to the largest sewing room in the empire. The room was filled with piles upon piles of the finest uncut fur; several velvet sacks were stuffed full of the rarest ruby, black opal, diamond, musgravite, and blue garnet gems – to name a few; large bags of gold were left by Geoffrey and Smith, courtesy of the emperor; and in the centre of the room stood a naked mannequin.
The Lesaew brothers looked around the room with gleaming, greedy eyes. They glanced at each other, smiled strangely, and burst into a fit of laughter.
“Sure fooled him,” the first Lesaew brother said merrily.
“We will have the entire empire fooled,” replied the second.
For the rest of the evening, the Lesaew brothers rolled in their new riches, drank the finest wine, and fell asleep on piles of fur.
On the day before the procession, the Lesaew brothers remained tucked away in the large sewing room surrounded by treasure.
Smith approached the sewing room door and called for the brothers. When the door opened, Smith was suspicious to see the mannequin in the centre of the room wearing… nothing.
“Have you finished the emperor’s outfit? He grows eager t-to see your f-finest creation,” Smith asked.
He glanced around the room and noticed that all the furs had been stacked up and tied with heavy rope, and the velvet sacks of gems were tightened shut and placed near the south wall. Smith grew even more suspicious.
Before he could utter any protest, the Lesaew brothers glided around him and brought him closer to the mannequin.
“Finest creation is what we have here, good sir,” purred the first Lesaew brother.
“Yes, behold! Set your eyes on the fine embroidered detailing, the silk patterns, the rich colours – deep red, ocean blue, and shimmering gold,” coaxed the second.
Smith stared at the mannequin standing in front of him, unclothed. He saw no embroidery; he saw no silk patterns; and he definitely saw no deep red, ocean blue, or shimmering gold. All he saw was an unclothed mannequin.
“I-I –” Smith started.
“– Of course, you see our finest creation. Don’t you?” the first Lesaew brother interrupted.
“The most magical of places has given us our silks with which we have crafted this outfit…” began the second.
“… However, only the BRAVEST of men can see it,” finished the first.
With news of this, Smith did not want to be thought of as a coward by the entire empire. Instead, he replied: “Well, of course I see it! It looks l-lovely – I will inform the emperor!”
Now, Smith did not go straight to the emperor; instead, he went to Geoffrey to see what he would say when he laid eyes on the supposed ‘outfit.’
Geoffrey approached the sewing room and called for the brothers. When the door opened, Geoffrey was suspicious to see that gold coins were strewn about the floor and wine bottles had been emptied.
“I have been sent to your room on behalf of the emperor and another advisor to view the fine outfit for tomorrow’s procession day,” Geoffrey said as he glanced at the mannequin in the centre of the room wearing… nothing. Now, Geoffrey grew even more suspicious.
Before he could utter a word, the Lesaew brothers pulled him closer to the mannequin. The slid around him mysteriously as the first Lesaew brother spoke, “Fine outfit for tomorrow’s procession day is what we have here, respected fellow.”
“Yes, take in the magnificent sight: the fine gold detailing along the sleeves, the decadent shoulder pads lined with silk fringe, and the most brilliant colours – bold magenta, royal blue, and beaming sunlight gold,” the second Lesaew brother charmed.
Confused, Geoffrey stared at the mannequin before him. He took in no fine gold; he could see no decadent shoulder pads; and he definitely did not see any bold magenta, royal blue, or beaming sunlight gold. All Geoffrey saw was an unclothed mannequin.
“Of course, you do see the fine outfit for tomorrow’s procession. Don’t you?” asked the first.
“The magical fabric allows only the WISEST of men to see it,” replied the second.
“You are wise, are you not?” again, asked the first.
“I surely am,” Geoffrey replied. “The outfit is the finest I have ever seen. I shall inform the emperor immediately,” he continued – for he did not want the entire empire to think him a fool.
On the day of procession, the emperor awoke excited to try on the finest outfit ever. The Lesaew brothers entered the emperor’s chambers and immediately set to dressing him in their masterpiece.
They turned the emperor away from his great mirror and slyly moved around him. They whizzed and whirred, creating a flurry of motion around the greedy emperor. Then, they turned him back towards the mirror.
The emperor stared at his reflection for a moment with extreme confusion.
“Behold!” shouted the first Lesaew brother. “Fix your eyes on the solid gold breastplate – encrusted with the finest of the dragon’s eye jewels!” he continued.
The emperor beheld no jewel encrusted, solid gold breast plate.
“Take in the breathtaking hand stitching along every emerald-lined seam!” boasted the second.
The emperor took in no such hand stitching, nor did he take in any such seams.
“Observe the most vibrant of colours! Profound purples, bubbling blues, ravenous reds, and gleaming golds!” both brothers shouted in unison.
Now, the emperor certainly did not observe the most vibrant of colours. He saw no purple; he saw no blue; and he saw no ravenous red or gleaming gold; all that the emperor saw was the reflection of his own nakedness.
“Of course, you surely see the finest outfit in the land?” urged the first Lesaew brother.
“Oh, brother - he must! Only the most POWERFUL of men can see it!” urged the second further.
Not wanting his empire to think of him as a powerless man, the emperor replied, “How splendid! How wonderfully splendid!”
He clapped his hands excitedly and shouted for two of his most trusted advisors:
“Geoffrey! Smith! Take me to the celebrations at once!”
Geoffrey and Smith burst into the emperor’s chambers, exchanged strange looks as the emperor stood before them dressed in only his underwear, and took him down to the front gate of his palace.
“Servants! See to it that our guests are paid even more handsomely than before – for their finest work shall make me the grandest emperor in all the world,” the emperor declared. The Lesaew brothers bowed to the exiting emperor as each brother smiled with deceit.
Now, as the emperor marched out of his palace, all heads turned and stared. Thousands of men and women stood before the arrival of the emperor; each gawked at the sight of his or her emperor dressed in… nothing.
As the emperor walked proudly by his people, each man bowed his head and each woman curtsied. No one said a word about his attire.
That is, until…
An honest little girl was standing with her mother and father. She had been so distracted by all the people and festivities that she had not set her sights on the naked emperor. The minute she did, however, she tugged on her mother’s arm, pointed, and shouted at the top of her lungs:
“Mommy! Mommy! That man is in his underwear!”
At this, the entire empire burst into a fit of laughter. The emperor stood shocked and embarrassed. Smith stood beside his naked emperor feeling more like a coward than he ever had; Geoffrey felt foolish; and the emperor felt powerless.
The Lesaew brothers were never seen again – neither were any of the emperor’s hats, shoes, wigs, crowns, furs, jewels, tunics, breeches, nor fancy shoulder pads.
The king eventually
learned to be happy without so many material items. He spent the rest of his days treating his empire the way he always should have, with his THREE advisors, Geoffrey, Smith, and the honest
About the Author:
My name is Tasha Guenther. I currently live in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada while I finish my PhD in Cultural Studies and Critical Theory with concentrations in digital cultures and Afrofuturism at McMaster University. I enjoy writing short stories and non-fiction pieces for grade school children. Learn more about me here or connect with me on my Instagram, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.