Once, long ago, there lived an Emperor who loved new clothes. He loved clothes so much that he thought of nothing else all day and spent all his time and money in acquiring more and more, ever more beautiful clothes.
The emperor's love for clothes was well known. Traders, merchants and weavers from far and wide would bring fine silks, flowered brocades and softest satins to sell to the Emperor, knowing he would buy even the most expensive cloth if it caught his fancy. One day two men, claiming to be skilled weavers, arrived in the Emperor's city and asked to meet him. The men were not real weavers at all, but crooks.
'Sire,' they cried, bowing low before the Emperor, 'the cloths we weave are special - not only do they have the most beautiful colours and elaborate patterns, but the clothes made from them have the wonderful property of remaining invisible to everyone who is unfit for his office or unforgivably stupid.'
'These are clothes worth having,' thought the Emperor to himself. 'If I had such a suit of clothes, I'd know at once the men unfit for their office, and be able to tell the wise from the foolish! This cloth must be woven for me immediately!' The Emperor gave orders for the men to be provided with every facility, and commanded them to start their work at once.