Do you know about the Easy Stories in English group chat? It’s a place where you can talk, share pictures and practise your English with other listeners of the podcast. I post in there every day, and if you want to ask me a question, it’s a great place to do it! I also post news and pictures from my life there. It’s a lovely community, and we would love to have you there.
The chat is on Telegram, a fast, free and safe messaging app. To join the group chat, go to EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Chat.
See you there!
Welcome to Easy Stories in English, the podcast that will take your English from OK to Good, and from Good to Great.
I am Ariel Goodbody, your host for this show. Today’s story is for intermediate learners. The name of the story is The King’s New Clothes. You can find a transcript of the episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/King. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/King. This contains the full story, as well as my conversation before it.
So right now I am in the middle of moving house. I am finally moving to live with my girlfriend.
Well, at the time of recording this! When you listen to this, I will have already moved in. So I’m really jealous of future Ariel, who has already moved in, because right now I’m in the thick of it, I’m still in the middle of this very stressful situation. I’ve spent about four days just packing, sorting and cleaning my flat in Bath, and I am extremely tired.
Actually, right now I am staying with my parents for a few days before Saturday, when we will take a moving van, collect all my things, and drive down to Devon, where my girlfriend’s house is. I say ‘will’, but by the time you listen to this, that will have already happened. Ugh, honestly, podcasts are so confusing, aren’t they?
Anyway, I was really tired a few days ago, like absolutely exhausted from the packing. On Wednesday, I went to a restaurant with my parents for lunch, and I was so tired that I had a little nap on the bench in the restaurant. So, yeah. The waitress even said, ‘Are you sure you don’t want some ice cream or a coffee? ’Cause you do look very tired. You were just sleeping on the bench.’
But anyway, I’m recovering now, and tomorrow is the big moving day so I’ve got to save up all my energy for that, because, ooph, it’s going to be a lot!
And then, as if that wasn’t enough, I have to unpack! I have to take all the things I packed up and open them and put them in the right places and get rid of the boxes. Ugh! It just never ends, does it?
I know this is just what moving house is like, but this is the biggest move I’ve ever had to do, and I made the naïve mistake of saying ‘Oh, I don’t have that much stuff’. Well, it turns out, I do have that much stuff. So, yeah, it’s been a lot of work and it’s still going to be more work. And then when we’re done, we have to remodel some of the rooms in the house, but anyway.
The important thing is, I guess, the hardest is done? Question mark? I sure hope the hardest part is done! It feels annoying because I’ve basically already been living with my girlfriend. For several months, I’ve moved all of my most essential things over there and I’ve been staying there and working from there, so in a lot of ways, this just feels like a formality, an official thing we have to do.
But, you know, it makes sense. It will be nice to have all my cuddly toys at my girlfriend’s house, ’cause I really miss my lions and my dragons and my cats and dogs. And also, you know, I won’t be paying rent for a flat that I’m not really visiting. So that’s also nice.
So yeah. I’m sure many of you have more moving experience than me, so if you do have any positive comments, any words of encouragement, please go to EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/King and leave a comment, or just shoot me a message, send me a message, in the Telegram group.
OK, I’ll just explain some words that are in today’s story.
An outfit is a set of clothes that you wear together. For example, a suit is a kind of outfit. You have the shirt, the jacket, the tie, the trousers and the shoes. Together, they make an outfit. Some people like to choose their outfit before they go to bed, so that they don’t have to think about it in the morning. Sometimes, I like to come up with complicated outfits for parties or going out.
When someone rules a country, they are the leader, king, president and so on. For example, the Queen rules the United Kingdom, although really the Prime Minister has more power. In the past, empires ruled many parts of the world.
Thread is a long, thin thing that you use to make clothes. You sew threads together to make clothes. You put the thread through a sharp thing called a needle to sew with it. Spiders can naturally make their own thread.
When you weave, and the past tense is wove, and the past participle is woven, you put lots of threads together to make a new fabric, a new material. Wool is often woven together to make a strong fabric for warm clothes. Nowadays, people weave with machines.
A trickster is someone who often lies and tricks others. For example, in Norse mythology, Loki is a trickster god. Tricksters are often very clever, and can make a lot of money by tricking people, but they usually do not have many friends because they are so tricky.
When someone is unfit for office, they do not have the necessary skills or personality for their job, their office. For example, if a president is always getting drunk and making bad decisions, he is unfit for office. In fact, I can think of several presidents who were unfit for office!
A loom is a machine for weaving thread. In the past, looms were operated by hand, but now looms are often automatic.
A moth is a small flying insect. Moths are like butterflies, but they are usually white or grey, and you only see moths at night. If you leave your window open at night and have the light on, moths will often fly inside. Moths also like to live inside wardrobes and eat clothes. Because moths like fire and lights, we sometimes say someone comes to something like a moth to a flame. This means they are very attracted to it. For example, I often go to delicious cake like a moth to a flame.
An adviser is a person whose job it is to give advice. Kings, presidents and other rulers always have advisers. Sometimes, it is the adviser who is really the clever one.
When a king or queen knights someone, they turn them into a knight. In the past, knights rode on horses and fought with swords, but these days, in the UK, knights are just people who have done something amazing for their country and have been given an award by the queen. For example, Sir Elton John has been knighted for his musical achievements. Because he is a knight, we call him Sir Elton John.
Some clothes, like dresses, can have trains. Trains are long pieces of fabric that follow behind the piece of clothing. Wedding dresses often have trains. If the train is very long, then someone will have to stand behind the person wearing the dress and carry the train.
If you enjoy the podcast and want more, you can support me on Patreon. For just $2 a month you can get exercises with each episode, and for $5, you get an extra story every month, as well as Elevenses with Ariel, a daily conversational podcast for intermediate learners. Last week I talked about crazy packing times, looking younger, getting thinner and mentioning my girlfriend to other people. You can support the show and get all the extra content at Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish. That’s Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish.
A big thank-you to my new patrons: Hana, Heike and Huong Nguyen. Thank you so much. Your support really means a lot to me.
OK, so listen and enjoy!
The King’s New Clothes
Once upon a time, there was a king who was obsessed with his appearance. Rather than worrying about the finances of his kingdom, or training his soldiers for war, he instead spent hours dreaming about clothes. He spent all the kingdom’s spare income on new clothes, and his wardrobe was so big that it was practically another country in itself. He never visited the theatre or went hunting, except to show off a new outfit, and instead of the words ‘the King is in council,’ the phrase ‘the King is in his wardrobe’ was regularly heard.
So the people of the kingdom wore old dirty clothes, with no hope of comparing to the King’s fine outfits, the soldiers were left with sticks and rusty swords for weapons, and the King’s council did all the ruling for him. This worked out quite well, as the council knew far more about ruling a kingdom than the King had ever shown an interest in. Things ran smoothly, more or less, until one dark day…
A pair of brothers came to the castle, claiming to be skilful weavers. In fact, these men were no weavers, but tricksters. However, as soon as the King heard that there were weavers in the castle, he demanded to see them.
‘My dear king,’ said the first brother. ‘We have travelled through the whole country, and we have heard all sorts of stories about your fantastic outfits.’
‘You have?’ said the King, satisfied that his efforts were being seen. ‘How wonderful.’
‘We have a proposal,’ said the second brother. ‘We wish to weave you a beautiful outfit, so that your fame might spread not only to our kingdom, but to the whole world.’
‘The whole world!’ said the King. ‘Why, that would be a wonderful idea, wouldn’t it?’
He turned to his council, who seemed less thrilled by this idea.
‘If the other kings and queens hear that I have such an outfit, they will think we are rich, to spend money on such things. They will surely not attack us.’
‘It will not just be great!’ said the first brother. ‘It will be magical. We can weave a magic thread that is only visible to those who deserve to see it. Anyone who is stupid, or unfit for office, will not be able to see the thread.’
The King was delighted by this. What a brilliant idea! Not only would his outfit make him famous around the world, it would allow him to see which of his men were unfit for office, and distinguish between those who were wise and those who were foolish.
‘I will waste no time!’ said the King. ‘Tell me, what do you need to create this wonderful outfit?’
So the tricksters asked for two huge bags of silk and gold, and a room to work in. There, they set up two great looms, and got down to pretending to work. They did not put any silk or gold into the looms, instead hiding it in their own bags, but they moved their hands through the air as if they were preparing the looms. Then, they worked the machines, making a great deal of noise and capturing much of the castle’s attention, even though the looms were quite empty.
A few days later, the King wished to know how the two weavers were getting on. He had been inspired by his morning visit to his wardrobe. Amongst the rows of beautiful clothes, he found one outfit which was being eaten by moths. Furious, the King declared that all moths in the kingdom must be killed, and that anyone who failed to kill a moth would face death themselves.
After calming down, the King realised that there might not just be moths in his wardrobe, but ‘moths’ in his council as well—men who seemed good and wise, but in reality were eating away at the kingdom. So what better time to send his council to view the outfit in progress? The weavers’ magic thread would soon tell if his men were unfit for office.
First, he sent his minister to check up on the weavers. The minister walked in confidently, sure that he would see the cloth without difficulty. However, he immediately found himself standing in front of an empty loom, with the two weavers working away on the other side.
‘My God!’ thought the minister. ‘Can it be that I am stupid? No, but in that case, I must be unfit for office.’
‘Dear minister!’ cried the brothers, pausing their work. ‘Thank you for coming and checking on us. Come closer, so you can see the cloth better.’
The minister walked forward, pretending to stare at the cloth.
‘Tell us, do you like this design? And what about these colours?’
They spoke for a long time about the details of the cloth, making up technical names for things, and asking what the minister thought. He merely nodded and said that he thought they were beautiful, and, to make sure they did not realise his lie, he asked for the names of the patterns and colours, so that he might tell the King.
‘Oh, and before you go!’ said the brothers, just as the minister was leaving. ‘Could we have more silk and gold? We are running out quite quickly.’
So the minister gave the message to the King, who gave more silk and gold to the tricksters, which went straight into their own bags.
Satisfied that his minister was fit for office, the King sent an adviser to check a few days later. The adviser was just as confident of his ability to see the magic thread, and when he stepped into the room and saw the empty loom, he was gripped with panic.
‘If I tell the King the truth, I will surely lose my head!’ he thought.
So he made sure to stare at the loom, and spoke loudly of how beautiful the cloth was, and how he must tell the whole city about it. The weavers asked him plenty of questions, pretending to be deeply concerned about the quality of the outfit, finally asking for more silk and gold as the adviser was leaving.
The adviser did indeed announce the news of the magic cloth to the city, and rumours spread fast. Everyone was waiting excitedly to see the outfit, so that they might distinguish which of their neighbours were foolish or unfit for office.
Finally, the King decided that his moth-killing plan could wait, as he was eager to see the cloth himself. He went to the weavers’ room with his council, and naturally, all they saw were empty looms, but nobody dared say a word in front of the King.
The King himself was quite shocked when he could not see the cloth.
‘Does this mean I am not fit to be king?’ he wondered. ‘But how can it be? I have ruled so well all my life! But I wonder… My council has always done most of the work. And isn’t that the job of a king, to be a figure for the people to admire, whilst the carefully-selected council does all the work? I must not speak a word of this, or the kingdom will fall apart.’
So the King said the cloth looked wonderful, and clapped the weavers on the back, and told them he would give them as much silk and gold as they needed—and more! The rest of the council laughed and smiled along with him, all commenting on the delightful colours and patterns, although each person seemed to mention a different colour.
‘Yes, yes, you have done a most excellent job,’ said the King. ‘In fact, we must hold a parade! There, we will show off the new outfit, and afterwards you will be knighted.’
The tricksters’ mouths fell open.
‘What an honour, to be knighted!’ they cried. ‘Our king is too kind.’
The night before the parade, the weavers stayed up working, burning hundreds of candles and running the looms until their fingers bled. Then they pulled off the cloth, cut it with scissors and sewed it with needles, although of course all they were really doing was cutting and sewing air.
In the morning, the tricksters came before the King, holding up the pieces of invisible clothing one by one.
‘Here are your new trousers, my king!’ they said, and they helped the King into his invisible trousers.
‘Here is your new scarf, my king!’ they said, and they helped the King into his invisible scarf.
‘Here is your new cape, my king!’ they said, and they helped the King into his invisible cape.
‘The thread is so light that you will not even feel it,’ they explained.
‘Why, it is as light as air!’ the King cried.
The weavers took the King in front of a mirror, where he stood completely naked, but they looked him up and down as if examining a fine piece of clothing, commenting on how excellent he looked.
‘Ah, but there is one problem!’ said the tricksters. ‘Someone will need to carry your train.’
So the King ordered some of his men to stand behind him and carry his train, but of course they were just holding air.
The parade began, and all the people of the city pushed into the streets and leaned out of windows to see the King’s new clothes. Of course, there was really nothing to see, but nobody wanted to admit to being stupid or unfit for office, so the people cried out about how wonderful the King looked.
Finally, a young girl saw the King, and she could not understand what everyone was talking about.
‘But he’s naked!’ she said, pointing. ‘The King is naked!’
The little girl’s words spread like an illness, and like moths to a flame, the people all began to comment on the King’s new clothes, or rather, the lack of them.
Soon, comments turned to laughter, and people began to openly make fun of the King.
‘It does not matter,’ he thought to himself. ‘So the people of the city are stupid. What a surprise. I know I look excellent.’
When the parade was over, the King returned to his castle to find the weavers and knight them. But the two tricksters were nowhere to be found.
‘Hello? Where have those two gone?’
They had disappeared the moment the parade had started, taking all their silk and gold with them.
And so the King stood, naked, in the middle of his castle, never having felt so stupid in his life.
If you enjoyed the story and want to say thank you, you can buy me a coffee on Ko-Fi. Just go to EasyStoriesInEnglish.com and click the orange button that says Buy me a coffee! Then you’ll be able to send me $3 so that I can buy a coffee, but really, I’ll probably get a bubble tea. And I’ll think of you while I drink it! Thank you for listening, and until next week.