22 STORY OF THE EMPERORS NEW CLOTHES
nothing to fear for himself, but he wanted first to send somebody else in order to see how he stood with regard to his office. Everybody in the whole town knew what a wonderful power the cloth had, and they were all curious to see how bad or how stupid their neighbour was.
' I will send my old and honoured minister to the weavers.' thought the Emperor. ' He can judge best what the cloth is like, for he has intellect, and no one understands his office better than he.'
Now the good old minister went into the hall where the two impostors sat working at the empty weaving-looms. ' Dear me ! ' thought the old minister, opening his eyes wide, ' I can see nothing !' But he did not say so.
Both the impostors begged him to be so kind as to step closer, and asked him if it were not a beautiful texture and lovely colours. They pointed to the empty loom, and the poor old minister went forward rubRING his eyes; but he could see nothing, for there was nothing there.
'Dear, dear!' thought he,'can I be stupid? I have never thought that, and nobody must know it! Can I be not fit for my office ? No, I must certainly not say that I cannot see the cloth !'
' Have you nothing to say about it ? ' asked one of the men who was weaving.
' Oh, it is lovely, most lovely!' answered the old minister, looking through his spectacles. ' What a texture! What colours! Yes, I wrill tell the Emperor that it pleases me very much.'
' Now we are delighted at that.' said both the weavers, and thereupon they named the colours and explained the make of the texture.
The old minister paid great attention, so that he could tell the same to the Emperor when he came back to him, which he did.
The impostors now wanted more money, more silk, and more gold to use in their weaving. They put it all in their own pockets, and there came no threads on the loom, but they went on as they had done before, working at the empty loom. The Emperor soon sent another worthy statesman to see how the weaving was getting on, and whether the cloth would soon be finished. It was the same with him as the first one; he looked and looked, but because there was nothing on the empty loom he could see nothing.
' Is it not a beautiful piece of cloth ? ' asked the two impostors, and they pointed to and described the splendid material which was not there.