The Violet Fairy Book
The Fairy Of The Dawn
Once upon a time what should happen DID happen; and if it had not happened this tale
would never have been told.
There was once an emperor, very great and mighty, and he ruled over an empire so large
that no one knew where it began and where it ended. But if nobody could tell the exact
extent of his sovereignty everybody was aware that the emperor's right eye laughed,
while his left eye wept. One or two men of valour had the courage to go and ask him the
reason of this strange fact, but he only laughed and said nothing; and the reason of the
deadly enmity between his two eyes was a secret only known to the monarch himself.
And all the while the emperor's sons were growing up. And such sons! All three like the
morning stars in the sky!
Florea, the eldest, was so tall and broad-shouldered that no man in the kingdom could
Costan, the second, was quite different. Small of stature, and slightly built, he had a
strong arm and stronger wrist.
Petru, the third and youngest, was tall and thin, more like a girl than a boy. He spoke very
little, but laughed and sang, sang and laughed, from morning till night. He was very
seldom serious, but then he had a way when he was thinking of stroking his hair over his
forehead, which made him look old enough to sit in his father's council!
'You are grown up, Florea,' said Petru one day to his eldest brother; 'do go and ask father
why one eye laughs and the other weeps.'
But Florea would not go. He had learnt by experience that this question always put the
emperor in a rage.
Petru next went to Costan, but did not succeed any better with him.
'Well, well, as everyone else is afraid, I suppose I must do it myself,' observed Petru at
length. No sooner said than done; the boy went straight to his father and put his question.
'May you go blind!' exclaimed the emperor in wrath; 'what business is it of yours?' and
boxed Petru's ears soundly.
Petru returned to his brothers, and told them what had befallen him; but not long after it
struck him that his father's left eye seemed to weep less, and the right to laugh more.
'I wonder if it has anything to do with my question,' thought he.
'I'll try again! After all, what do two boxes on the ear matter?'
So he put his question for the second time, and had the same answer; but the left eye only
wept now and then, while the right eye looked ten years younger.