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The Emperor's New Underwear by Mynardo A.

Macaraig
"I have been a fool," moaned the emperor to his chamberlain.
"I announced to all the people that I would be wearing a magnificent suit of clothing in today's
ceremonial parade and I walked out there in my underwear, thinking I was wearing that magnificent
suit and they all saw me as a fool. How could I have been fooled by those charlatans? And in front of
all my subjects, too! I am ruined, chamberlain, ruined!"
"There, there," said the chamberlain in comforting tones. "Surely the situation is not that bad. Other
emperors have made worse mistakes."
"Don't you understand?" groaned the emperor. "This mistake will destroy me! How can I face the
people again when I have been stripped of my imperial dignity? How can I command their respect
and allegiance when they have seen me parading myself in my underwear? Only a fool walks around
in his underwear. Now, even the lowest of my subjects can sneer at me. At least they don't go around
behaving like fools."
The emperor was inconsolable. The incident of the nonexistent clothing had struck him where it hurts,
namely, in his image. For years, he had made himself look valorous and brave, steadfast and firm. A
statesman of subtle magnificence and quiet strength. Yet, not more than an hour ago he had been
walking down the imperial highway, accompanied by a retinue of courtiers, soldiers, attendants,
retainers, dignitaries and flunkeys - while dressed in purple polka-dot shorts and a monogrammed
cotton undershirt. It was a national disgrace. Farmers can lose their crops; businessmen can lose
their fortunes and generals can lose their battles but when an emperor loses his clothes, in public no
less, then he has truly lost everything. The emperor was seriously contemplating suicide when the
chancellor made a most remarkable statement.
"I hardly see what those peasants are so smug about, you highness," commented the chamberlain
off-handedly, "Personally speaking, I would consider a man who wore underwear in public to be very
brave rather than very foolish. Why, if the emperor himself has no objections to wearing underwear in
public, then why should the common man?"
"That's it!" cried the emperor in jubilation, so loudly and so suddenly that the chamberlain almost
jumped out of his underwear.
"If I, the emperor can walk around in my underwear why shouldn't everyone?" No one will dare laugh
at me now!"
"I-I-I certainly h-h-hope so," stammered the startled chamberlain. "If-if I may inquire, your highness, jj-jus what are you going to do?"
"Chamberlain," said the emperor. "I am issuing a new decree - an imperial proclamation, effective
immediately, From now on, all citizens of the empire must dress in underwear and nothing else.
Understand, chamberlain?"

"Oh, your majesty is such a card, such a joker, dressing in underwear really. Ha-ha-ha," laughed the
chamberlain in a forced manner.
"What are you laughing at, you buffoon?"
The emperor bolted up from his throne, his eyes, once filled with tears, were now filled with wrath. "I
meant what I said, you fool! Inform the constabulary and the judiciary of my new proclamation at once
- and you" he roared at the chamberlain. "How dare you wear clothes in my presence?! Undress at
once!
"But, sire"
"AT ONCE, CHAMBERLAIN!!"
Slowly, shamefully, the chamberlain peeled off his fine waistcoat and silk shirt, his hand-made
pantaloons and purple sash and then clad only in pink fruit-of-the-loom, he dashed off, red-faced, to
carry out his orders.
The next day, the startled populace awoke to find a whole slew of poster plastered all over the city,
announcing a new and unusual imperial proclamation. "Henceforth," the text read, "all citizens of the
empire, regardless of age, sex, creed or status must dress in their underwear and their underwear
only, on any and all occasions on PAIN OF DEATH. Effective immediately."
Some of the people were absolutely shocked. "First, the parade and now this! Our emperor has gone
mad!" said they. Nevertheless, most of them decided to take no chances and immediately stripped
down to their undies. A few citizens took it all as 'some monstrous joke. "Surely, no self-respecting
emperor would make such a law and surely, no self-respecting police force will enforce it," they
assured themselves. But they were rudely surprised when they were accosted by soldiers (garbed in
khaki underwear) who forced them to strip at swordpoint. This proved most embarrassing to many
citizens, some of whom, forgot to wear clean underwear that day and others who neglected to wear
any underwear at all.
By noon of that day, not a single person on the street was wearing outer clothing. The few overlymodest citizens were locked up in their houses, behind curtained windows. The emperor looked out
at the streets from his window and smiled.
"Chancellor," he called. "Prepare the guards and the court retainers. I think I'd like to have another
parade - only this time, I shall wear my finest set of underwear!"
Soon, the people of the town were assembled once more to see, yet another parade of the emperor
and his court. In the last parade, held just a day before, the emperor had strutted around the city,
dressed in his underwear. This time, however, things were different. This time, everybody was
dressed in his underwear. All the guards, all the retainers, all the courtiers and all the spectators. But
the highlight of the parade was the emperor himself. He was garbed in a satin undershirt, lined with

the finest ermine, a pair of silk jockey trunks with a platinum garter and a gold cup encrusted with the
family jewels. His garters for his socks (he was an old-fashioned emperor) were laden with pearls and
diamonds. It was thoroughly magnificent and totally disgusting.
"He looks like a complete idiot," whispered the judge to his wife.
"Do you think we look any better?" replied she, as she pulled in her paunch with greater effort.
Slowly, the assemblage of royal underwear made their way back to the palace and the stunned
spectators began to converse among themselves.
"This situation is intolerable," moaned a teacher. "How can I get my students to respect me when I'm
dressed in old, dirty, second-class underwear?"
"You think you've got problems?" remarked a priest." Try saying mass dressed in boxer shorts."
"And what are we going to do during cold weather?" asked a concerned mother.
"We could," suggested a businessman, "wear long underwear as they do in the West."
"I have another suggestion," said a young man, curtly.
"Really? What?" asked the businessman.
"We could just wear our regular clothing like normal people," he replied.
"But the emperor has forbidden it!" gasped the mother.
"So what?" said he.
The next morning the chamberlain was summoned to the royal throne room by a very angry emperor.
"Chamberlain, look! Out there in the streets! People everywhere wearing regular clothing!
"Y-y-yes, m-m-my lord. I-I-I saw them earlier," stammered the chamberlain in reply.
"Well, aren't you going to do anything?" demanded the normal personage.
"W-w-ell, we-w-wanted to, my lord, but there are too many of them to arrest.
"Then, sent out the soldiers," screamed the emperor.
"B-b-but, m-my lord, that could start a war. A full-scale war with lots of killing and fighting and dying
and furthermore, my lord, the soldiers are reluctant to impart in their underwear."

"But isn't there anything we can do?" asked the emperor.


"Without taking the risk of precipitating a major conflict sir - no."
The emperor burst out in tears.
"What am I going to do now? I made a fool of myself - twice!"
"May I speak frankly, my lord?" asked the chamberlain. "Haven't you always done so?" he asked.
"N-n-no, n-not really," answered the chamberlain. "But I think the time has come for me to tell you
what you need to hear rather than what you want to hear."
"Very well then, chamberlain," said the emperor.
"Speak."
"Well sire," the chamberlain began, "it's like this: now, when you first paraded around in your
underwear, you must admit that you did look a bit foolish. Of course, you can't deny that you were a
fool to be taken in by those two con men who - uh, I'm not offending you, am I your majesty?"
"No, go, on," said the emperor.
"Well, sire," the chamberlain continued, "you were fooled, true, but so were we naturally, we didn't
hold it against you for being fooled too but you see, we had become fools once already and now, here
you were with your new decree making us become fools twice! Well, we were tolerant about being
fooled once, but being forced to become fools - that was another matter entirely."
"But what of my royal dignity?" asked the emperor. "How can I erase the stain of my humiliation?"
"You can't," said the chamberlain, "but consider this: what could be more humiliating to an emperor
than to be driven from his throne because of underwear?"
The emperor considered the chamberlain's words and on that day, the decree was abolished. People
could dress in normal clothing once more and the emperor's relations with his people returned to
normal as well. The chamberlain, who had spoken so frankly was now accorded new respect by both
the emperor and the people did not have any more disagreements. They had arguments and debates
and conflicts and quarrels over taxes and salaries and similar important matters but never again did
either emperor or people raise the issue of underwear again - at least, not in public.