The Garden of Hesperides

A Bridge to Other Worlds


The Emperor's Old Clothes
by Dirk Kelder

Once upon a time there was an emperor who used to like to wear his old clothes. Although he had an excellent tailor who made fine clothes, he refused to wear them. One day, the Grand Poobah of Grimanich came to see the emperor on a state visit. When the emperor greeted his guest, he wore his old clothes, as he was accustomed to doing. The Grand Poobah took one look at his host, turned around and got back into his carriage and rode off.

The emperor was greatly perplexed at this. "What could be wrong?" he thought to himself. So he summoned his two most trusted advisors and asked them, "Why did the Grand Poobah treat me this way?" The first wise man said, "O most exalted emperor, when the Grand Poobah saw your clothes, he was embarrassed by his stuffy garments and so went back home." He said this because he didn't want to anger the emperor. But the emperor did not seem satisfied with this answer. Then the other advisor gathered up his courage and said, "O your highness, the Grand Poobah was insulted by the lack of dignity in your attire." But the emperor responded, "How can that be? I wanted to make him feel at home and relaxed." He was still perplexed and went off to think about it by himself.

A week later the emperor sent a message to the Grand Poobah with many apologies and to invite him for another state visit. This time the emperor would make no mistakes. He ordered his tailor to make him an outfit so regal and made of cloth so costly that he spent a whole month's worth of taxes on it.

When the day arrived for the visit the emperor put on his new clothes and he shone like the sun. He went out to greet the Grand Poobah as the carriage approached. The whole court surrounded the emperor and the splendour of their attire was a sight to see. But to everyone's surprise, when the Grand Poobah emerged from his carriage, he was wearing old clothes!

A loud gasp was heard from everyone in the court. The emperor and the Grand Poobah looked at the clothes the other was wearing, and they looked at each other's clothes again. They found the courage to look at each other in the face. And when their eyes met, all of a sudden they both broke into a hearty laugh. They laughed so loud that soon everyone in the court was laughing. It turned out to be a most enjoyable visit and everyone had a wonderful time that day.

From that day onwards, the emperor and the Grand Poobah have been the greatest of friends and make many state visits to each other's realms. But nobody knows how either of them will be dressed. It is always a surprise and makes for the merriest of times.

Hesperides | Bridge to Other Worlds | The Hymn of the Pearl | The Frog | The Godson
The Emperor's Old Clothes | The Gypsy King | Gamuchi and the Abyss

Copyright © 1998, Dirk Kelder

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