For the Busy Business-Parent

Whimsical Bedtime Stories
for Children of All Ages

Once upon a time, a very long time ago, two youngsters named Tommy Nobbins and Billy Medwick went fishing. They sat in the shade at the edge of an old millpond, with their fishing lines in the water. Tommy wanted to catch a lot of fish, because his family was very poor, and he and his mother had eaten nothing but bread and beans for supper for three whole days in a row.

All of a sudden, a sharp tug came on the end of Tommy's line. He scrambled to his feet and reeled in one of the biggest fish he had ever seen pulled from that pond.

"We'll really eat well tonight," Tommy said happily.

Billy stretched out on the grass and glanced at the collection of fish he too had caught.

"We won't eat as well as the emperor," he said, nodding towards the palace off in the distance.

"Nobody eats as well as the emperor," Tommy answered with a grin.

The sun was going down, so Tommy hurriedly gathered up the fish and his fishing pole, waved good-bye to his friend and set out for home.

Mrs. Nobbins was setting the table when he arrived. She placed a steaming bowl of beans and a spoon in front of Tommys chair.

Tommy wrinkled his nose. He didn't like beans anymore. Unfortunately, beans were often all he and his mother could afford to eat, because after his father died, they had been left with very little money.

Tommy's mother had become a seamstress to support her little family; she sewed and mended clothes, but she wasn't able to earn very much.

The family ate a lot of beans.

A fish dinner would be cause for celebration. "Look what I've got, Mother!" Tommy announced to his mother, proudly holding up his catch.


"What a fine son you are." Mrs. Nobbins smiled. She fried the fish and placed half on each of their plates. Even the beans might be good if they were served with Tommy's tasty fish for dinner.

Mother and son had just begun to eat their meal when someone knocked on the door. Tommy's mother arose and opened it to find two of the emperors soldiers standing there.

"Greetings from the palace, good lady," said one. "You have been invited to a parade tomorrow to view the emperor's new clothes."

Mrs. Nobbins was speechless with surprise.
"Why would we want to go see a bunch of clothes?" asked Tommy.

"Hush!" Mrs, Nobbins said. The tallest soldier raised one eyebrow and glared down at Tommy. Pesky flea of a boy, the soldier thought to himself.

"Everyone in town is being invited," he replied. "It is a great honor to be invited to view the emperors new clothes," he said stiffly. "They are very special clothes, because only wise people and people worthy of their jobs will even be able to see the material the emperors new clothing is made of."

"And by the way," he added, "The parade route will be lined with people. You had best arrive early if you and the boy here want to find a good spot from which to view the emperor's new clothes when the parade passes by."

Then, with a curt nod, he turned, and the two soldiers marched off.

Tommy thought for a moment. "Wow, the emperor's clothes must be magic," he said. "May we go, Mother? Please may we?"

Tommy's mother sighed. "I do have a lot of sewing to do" she said, "but I suppose that can wait. It's certainly the very first time I've ever been invited to an emperor's parade! Well goodness...if everyone else is going to be there, you and I should go as well!" she decided.

"Wahoo!! A parade!" shouted Tommy, leaping into the air.

Tommy and his mother sat down and finished the rest of their dinner, which by now was beginning to get cold. After dinner, they set out their best clothes for tomorrow's parade.

The next day, Tommy woke up bright and early. He took a bath, brushed his teeth, and even remembered to wash behind his ears. He was combing his hair when his mother tapped at his door.

"Are you ready, Tommy?" she asked.

Tommy's mouth hung open. His mother was wearing a soft white blouse and a long, dark blue skirt. Her hair was wound in a thick braid that draped gently over her shoulder, and her eyes sparkled.

"You look just beautiful, Mother" said Tommy.

"Thank you, Tommy. You're looking very handsome yourself. Come on then, let's go."

Outside, the streets were filled with laughing, talking people. Tommy's friend Billy was standing in the crowd alongside his mother and father, and they waved to each other.

Suddenly, a trumpet blew. The emperor was coming! At first all Tommy could see was a coach with golden wheels. Then a red carpet rolled out, and finally the emperor himself stepped out. Everyone gasped. The emperor stood with his head held high.

"Those are...those are...nice clothes," someone said, weakly.

"Nice?... They're...they're...uhhhh...they're wonderful! We have the best dressed emperor of anyone," someone else said.

Everyone murmured in agreement. The emperor strutted around.

"But the emperor has nothing on!" Tommy blurted.

The band stopped playing. The marchers stopped marching. Someone stepped on a twig and the crack sounded like thunder in the silence.

"The boy's right, you know," a man in the crowd muttered softly to his wife.

"The emperor isn't wearing any clothes," a woman behind them agreed.

"WHO SAID THAT?" roared the emperor.

The townspeople backed away, until only Tommy and his mother were left standing in the middle of the street. Mrs. Nobbins tried to hide Tommy behind her, but he began edging away.

"Please forgive him, Your Majesty, he's only a boy," said Mrs. Nobbins, her voice shaking with fear.

"Bring him here," the emperor commanded. Someone grabbed Tommy's arm and pushed him forward. His knees shook a little, but he looked again at what the emperor was wearing, and gave a snaggle-tooth grin.

The emperor's face turned as red as a cherry. The very hairs on his beard bristled with embarrassment.

When he was standing right in front of the emperor, Tommy remembered to bow low to show his respect.

The emperor frowned at Tommy for a moment. Then his moustache twitched, ever so slightly. "What is your name, boy?" he asked gruffly.

"Tommy Nobbins, sir," was the reply.

"Well, young Tommy Nobbins, how can you say I have no clothes. Are you not capable of seeing my magnificent cloak? My purple pants and gold shirt?"

Tommy shook his head. "I see red polka dot underwear, sir."

The emperor looked at all the townspeople, who snickered and giggled at Tommy's answer.

"Yes, yes, go ahead and laugh," sighed the emperor to the crowd, "Your emperor has indeed been a fool. The tailors tricked me into believing they were using magical cloth. But laugh at yourselves as well. Out of all of you, this small boy is the only one smart enough to tell the truth."

The emperor laid a hand on Tommy's shoulder. "Those tailors said that only wise people, and those worthy of their jobs would be able see the clothes. In a sense, they were right. You, my boy, are the one who is wise as well as worthy. Your honesty and your courage to speak the truth is of greater value to me than a room full of the finest clothes."

"How would you and your mother like to come to live in the palace?" offered the emperor. "I will make you one of my royal advisors, boy. Will you accept my offer?"

Tommy's grin grew even wider. Live in the palace! No more beans! He looked at his mom, who smiled and nodded her approval.

"Oh, boy! I accept, sir!" said Tommy.


And so Tommy and his mother went to live in the emperor's palace. They were given their own set of rooms, and the emperor smiled whenever he heard boyish laughter echoing throughout the great halls.

They emperor often asked his advisors for their opinions on his ideas. Sometimes the emperors advisors were afraid of offending the emperor, so they told him what they thought he wanted to hear, instead of telling him what they really thought.

But Tommy was never afraid to be honest, so he always told the emperor the absolute truth.

And so it was, with the help of Tommy and his honesty, that the emperor became known far and wide, as great and wise ruler.

(And one who didn't parade around town in his underwear)

The End.

Tommy And the Emperor - By Angela Tircuit- Copyright 1998
All Rights Reserved

About the Author:

Angela Tircuit is a college freshman at the University of New Orleans. Angela Tircuit lives in New Orleans with her mom, brother and three dogs. She's a part time library page and part time student. She hopes to be a full time children's author one day. Contact Angela Tircut

About the Illustrator: Jeff Meyers is a talented writer and a talented illustrator. Jeff makes his home in Ohio. He enjoys writing fiction for all ages and has been drawing and painting all his life. His artwork includes cartoons, illustrations, computer graphics, and still life drawings. When he's not working at his computer, Jeff enjoys spending time with his wife and three children. Jeff has wonderful examples of both his artistic as well as his writing talent on display throughout Bedtime-Story. Check the Author/Illustrator directory for a complete listing of Jeff Meyers work. Contact Jeff at or visit his new website: The JEFFWORKS for Creative solutions to your communication needs.

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