The Grey Fairy Book
Laughing Eye and Weeping Eye, or the Limping Fox
Once upon a time there lived a man whose right eye always smiled, and whose left eye
always cried; and this man had three sons, two of them very clever, and the third very
stupid. Now these three sons were very curious about the peculiarity of their father's eyes,
and as they could not puzzle out the reason for themselves, they determined to ask their
father why he did not have eyes like other people.
So the eldest of the three went one day into his father's room and put the question straight
out; but, instead of answering, the man flew into a fearful rage, and sprang at him with a
knife. The young fellow ran away in a terrible fright, and took refuge with his brothers,
who were awaiting anxiously the result of the interview.
‘You had better go yourselves,' was all the reply they got, ‘and see if you will fare any
Upon hearing this, the second son entered his father's room, only to be treated in the same
manner as his brother; and back he came telling the youngest, the fool of the family, that
it was his turn to try his luck.
Then the youngest son marched boldly up to his father and said to him, ‘My brothers
would not let me know what answer you had given to their question. But now, do tell me
why your right eye always laughs and your left eye always weeps.'
As before, the father grew purple with fury, and rushed forwards with his knife. But the
simpleton did not stir a step; he knew that he had really nothing to fear from his father.
‘Ah, now I see who is my true son,' exclaimed the old man; ‘the others are mere cowards.
And as you have shown me that you are brave, I will satisfy your curiosity. My right eye
laughs because I am glad to have a son like you; my left eye weeps because a precious
treasure has been stolen from me. I had in my garden a vine that yielded a tun of wine
every hour--someone has managed to steal it, so I weep its loss.'
The simpleton returned to his brothers and told them of their father's loss, and they all
made up their minds to set out at once in search of the vine. They travelled together till
they came to some cross roads, and there they parted, the two elder ones taking one road,
and the simpleton the other.
‘Thank goodness we have got rid of that idiot,' exclaimed the two elder. ‘Now let us have
some breakfast.' And they sat down by the roadside and began to eat.