Laughing Eye and Weeping Eye, or the Limping
Fox by Andrew Lang
Once upon a time there lived a man who had seven daughters. For a
long time they dwelt quite happily at home together, then one morning
the father called them all before him and said:
'Your mother and I are going on a journey, and as we do not know how
long we may be away, you will find enough provisions in the house to
last you three years. But see you do not open the door to anyone till
we come home again.'
'Very well, dear father,' replied the girls.
For two years they never left the house or unlocked the door; but
one day, when they had washed their clothes, and were spreading them
out on the roof to dry, the girls looked down into the street where
people were walking to and fro, and across to the market, with its
stalls of fresh meat, vegetables, and other nice things.
'Come here,' cried one. 'It makes me quite hungry! Why should not we
have our share? Let one of us go to the market, and buy meat and
'Oh, we mustn't do that!' said the youngest. 'You know our father
forbade us to open the door till he came home again.'
Then the eldest sister sprang at her and struck her, the second spit
at her, the third abused her, the fourth pushed her, the fifth flung
her to the ground, and the sixth tore her clothes. Then they left her
lying on the floor, and went out with a basket.
In about an hour they came back with the basket full of meat and
vegetables, which they put in a pot, and set on the fire, quite
forgetting that the house door stood wide open. The youngest sister,
however, took no part in all this, and when dinner was ready and the
table laid, she stole softly out to the entrance hall, and hid herself
behind a great cask which stood in one corner.
Now, while the other sisters were enjoying their feast, a witch
passed by, and catching sight of the open door, she walked in. She went
up to the eldest girl, and said: 'Where shall I begin on you, you fat
'You must begin,' answered she, 'with the hand which struck my
So the witch gobbled her up, and when the last scrap had
disappeared, she came to the second and asked: 'Where shall I begin on
you, my fat bolster?'
And the second answered, 'You must begin on my mouth, which spat on
And so on to the rest; and very soon the whole six had disappeared.
And as the witch was eating the last mouthful of the last sister, the
youngest, who had been crouching, frozen with horror, behind the
barrel, ran out through the open door into the street. Without looking
behind her, she hastened on and on, as fast as her feet would carry
her, till she saw an ogre's castle standing in front of her. In a
corner near the door she spied a large pot, and she crept softly up to
it and pulled the cover over it, and went to sleep.
By-and-by the ogre came home. 'Fee, Fo, Fum,' cried he, 'I smell the
smell of a man. What ill fate has brought him here?' And he looked
through all the rooms, and found nobody. 'Where are you?' he called.
'Do not be afraid, I will do you no harm.'
But the girl was still silent.
'Come out, I tell you,' repeated the ogre. 'Your life is quite safe.
If you are an old man, you shall be my father. If you are a boy, you
shall be my son. If your years are as many as mine, you shall be my
brother. If you are an old woman, you shall be my mother. If you are a
young one, you shall be my daughter. If you are middle-aged, you shall
be my wife. So come out, and fear nothing.'
Then the maiden came out of her hiding-place, and stood before him.
'Fear nothing,' said the ogre again; and when he went away to hunt
he left her to look after the house. In the evening he returned,
bringing with him hares, partridges, and gazelles, for the girl's
supper; for himself he only cared for the flesh of men, which she
cooked for him. He also gave into her charge the keys of six rooms, but
the key of the seventh he kept himself.
And time passed on, and the girl and the ogre still lived together.
She called him 'Father,' and he called her 'Daughter,' and never
once did he speak roughly to her.
One day the maiden said to him, 'Father, give me the key of the
'No, my daughter,' replied the ogre. 'There is nothing there that is
any use to you.'
'But I want the key,' she repeated again.
However the ogre took no notice, and pretended not to hear. The girl
began to cry, and said to herself: 'To-night, when he thinks I am
asleep, I will watch and see where he hides it;' and after she and the
ogre had supped, she bade him good-night, and left the room. In a few
minutes she stole quietly back, and watched from behind a curtain. In a
little while she saw the ogre take the key from his pocket, and hide it
in a hole in the ground before he went to bed. And when all was still
she took out the key, and went back to the house.
The next morning the ogre awoke with the first ray of light, and the
first thing he did was to look for the key. It was gone, and he guessed
at once what had become of it.
But instead of getting into a great rage, as most ogres would have
done, he said to himself, 'If I wake the maiden up I shall only
frighten her. For to-day she shall keep the key, and when I return
to-night it will be time enough to take it from her.' So he went off to
The moment he was safe out of the way, the girl ran upstairs and
opened the door of the room, which was quite bare. The one window was
closed, and she threw back the lattice and looked out. Beneath lay a
garden which belonged to the prince, and in the garden was an ox, who
was drawing up water from the well all by himself —for there was
nobody to be seen anywhere. The ox raised his head at the noise the
girl made in opening the lattice, and said to her, 'Good morning, O
daughter of Buk Ettemsuch! Your father is feeding you up till you are
nice and fat, and then he will put you on a spit and cook you.'
These words so frightened the maiden that she burst into tears and
ran out of the room. All day she wept, and when the ogre came home at
night, no supper was ready for him.
'What are you crying for?' said he. 'Where is my supper, and is it
you who have opened the upper chamber?'
'Yes, I opened it,' answered she.
'And what did the ox say to you?'
'He said, “Good morning, O daughter of Buk Ettemsuch. Your father is
feeding you up till you are nice and fat, and then he will put you on a
spit and cook you.”'
'Well, to-morrow you can go to the window and say, “My father is
feeding me up till I am nice and fat, but he does not mean to eat me.
If I had one of your eyes I would use it for a mirror, and look at
myself before and behind; and your girths should be loosened, and you
should be blind—seven days and seven nights.”'
'All right,' replied the girl, and the next morning, when the ox
spoke to her, she answered him as she had been told, and he fell down
straight upon the ground, and lay there seven days and seven nights.
But the flowers in the garden withered, for there was no one to water
When the prince came into his garden he found nothing but yellow
stalks; in the midst of them the ox was lying. With a blow from his
sword he killed the animal, and, turning to his attendants, he said,
'Go and fetch another ox!' And they brought in a great beast, and he
drew the water out of the well, and the flowers revived, and the grass
grew green again. Then the prince called his attendants and went away.
The next morning the girl heard the noise of the waterwheel, and she
opened the lattice and looked out of the window.
'Good morning, O daughter of Buk Ettemsuch!' said the new ox. 'Your
father is feeding you up till you are nice and fat, and then he will
put you on a spit and cook you.'
And the maiden answered: 'My father is feeding me up till I am nice
and fat, but he does not mean to eat me. If I had one of your eyes I
would use it for a mirror, and look at myself before and behind; and
your girths should be loosened, and you should be blind—seven days and
Directly she uttered these words the ox fell to the ground and lay
there, seven days and seven nights. Then he arose and began to draw the
water from the well. He had only turned the wheel once or twice, when
the prince took it into his head to visit his garden and see how the
new ox was getting on. When he entered the ox was working busily; but
in spite of that the flowers and grass were dried up. And the prince
drew his sword, and rushed at the ox to slay him, as he had done the
other. But the ox fell on his knees and said:
'My lord, only spare my life, and let me tell you how it happened.'
'How what happened?' asked the prince.
'My lord, a girl looked out of that window and spoke a few words to
me, and I fell to the ground. For seven days and seven nights I lay
there, unable to move. But, O my lord, it is not given to us twice to
behold beauty such as hers.'
'It is a lie,' said the prince. 'An ogre dwells there. Is it likely
that he keeps a maiden in his upper chamber?'
'Why not?' replied the ox. 'But if you come here at dawn to-morrow,
and hide behind that tree, you will see for yourself.'
'So I will,' said the prince; 'and if I find that you have not
spoken truth, I will kill you.'
The prince left the garden, and the ox went on with his work. Next
morning the prince came early to the garden, and found the ox busy with
'Has the girl appeared yet?' he asked.
'Not yet; but she will not be long. Hide yourself in the branches of
that tree, and you will soon see her.'
The prince did as he was told, and scarcely was he seated when the
maiden threw open the lattice.
'Good morning, O daughter of Buk Ettemsuch!' said the ox. 'Your
father is feeding you up till you are nice and fat, and then he will
put you on a spit and cook you.'
'My father is feeding me up till I am nice and fat, but he does not
mean to eat me. If I had one of your eyes I would use it for a mirror,
and look at myself before and behind; and your girths should be
loosened, and you should be blind—seven days and seven nights.' And
hardly had she spoken when the ox fell on the ground, and the maiden
shut the lattice and went away. But the prince knew that what the ox
had said was true, and that she had not her equal in the whole world.
And he came down from the tree, his heart burning with love.
'Why has the ogre not eaten her?' thought he. 'This night I will
invite him to supper in my palace and question him about the maiden,
and find out if she is his wife.'
So the prince ordered a great ox to be slain and roasted whole, and
two huge tanks to be made, one filled with water and the other with
wine. And towards evening he called his attendants and went to the
ogre's house to wait in the courtyard till he came back from hunting.
The ogre was surprised to see so many people assembled in front of his
house; but he bowed politely and said, 'Good morning, dear neighbours!
To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit? I have not offended you, I
'Oh, certainly not!' answered the prince.
'Then,' continued the ogre, 'What has brought you to my house to-day
for the first time?'
'We should like to have supper with you,' said the prince.
'Well, supper is ready, and you are welcome,' replied the ogre,
leading the way into the house, for he had had a good day, and there
was plenty of game in the bag over his shoulder.
A table was quickly prepared, and the prince had already taken his
place, when he suddenly exclaimed, 'After all, Buk Ettemsuch, suppose
you come to supper with me?'
'Where?' asked the ogre.
'In my house. I know it is all ready.'
'But it is so far off—why not stay here?'
'Oh, I will come another day; but this evening I must be your host.'
So the ogre accompanied the prince and his attendants back to the
palace. After a while the prince turned to the ogre and said:
'It is as a wooer that I appear before you. I seek a wife from an
'But I have no daughter,' replied the ogre.
'Oh, yes you have, I saw her at the window.'
'Well, you can marry her if you wish,' said he.
So the prince's heart was glad as he and his attendants rode back
with the ogre to his house. And as they parted, the prince said to his
guest, 'You will not forget the bargain we have made?'
'I am not a young man, and never break my promises,' said the ogre,
and went in and shut the door.
Upstairs he found the maiden, waiting till he returned to have her
supper, for she did not like eating by herself.
'I have had my supper,' said the ogre, 'for I have been spending the
evening with the prince.'
'Where did you meet him?' asked the girl.
'Oh, we are neighbours, and grew up together, and to-night I
promised that you should be his wife.'
'I don't want to be any man's wife,' answered she; but this was only
pretence, for her heart too was glad.
Next morning early came the prince, bringing with him bridal gifts,
and splendid wedding garments, to carry the maiden back to his palace.
But before he let her go the ogre called her to him, and said, 'Be
careful, girl, never to speak to the prince; and when he speaks to you,
you must be dumb, unless he swears “by the head of Buk Ettemsuch.” Then
you may speak.'
'Very well,' answered the girl.
They set out; and when they reached the palace, the prince led his
bride to the room he had prepared for her, and said 'Speak to me, my
wife,' but she was silent; and by-and-by he left her, thinking that
perhaps she was shy. The next day the same thing happened, and the
At last he said, 'Well, if you won't speak, I shall go and get
another wife who will.' And he did.
Now when the new wife was brought to the palace the daughter of Buk
Ettemsuch rose, and spoke to the ladies who had come to attend on the
second bride. 'Go and sit down. I will make ready the feast.' And the
ladies sat down as they were told, and waited.
The maiden sat down too, and called out, 'Come here, firewood,' and
the firewood came. 'Come here, fire,' and the fire came and kindled the
wood. 'Come here, pot.' 'Come here, oil;' and the pot and the oil came.
'Get into the pot, oil!' said she, and the oil did it. When the oil was
boiling, the maiden dipped all her fingers in it, and they became ten
fried fishes. 'Come here, oven,' she cried next, and the oven came.
'Fire, heat the oven.' And the fire heated it. When it was hot enough,
the maiden jumped in, just as she was, with her beautiful silver and
gold dress, and all her jewels. In a minute or two she had turned into
a snow-white loaf, that made your mouth water.
Said the loaf to the ladies, 'You can eat now; do not stand so far
off;' but they only stared at each other, speechless with surprise.
'What are you staring at?' asked the new bride.
'At all these wonders,' replied the ladies.
'Do you call these wonders?' said she scornfully; 'I can do that
too,' and she jumped straight into the oven, and was burnt up in a
Then they ran to the prince and said: 'Come quickly, your wife is
'Bury her, then!' returned he. 'But why did she do it? I am sure I
said nothing to make her throw herself into the oven.'
Accordingly the burnt woman was buried, but the prince would not go
to the funeral as all his thoughts were still with the wife who would
not speak to him. The next night he said to her, 'Dear wife, are you
afraid that something dreadful will happen if you speak to me? If you
still persist in being dumb, I shall be forced to get another wife.'
The poor girl longed to speak, but dread of the ogre kept her silent,
and the prince did as he had said, and brought a fresh bride into the
palace. And when she and her ladies were seated in state, the maiden
planted a sharp stake in the ground, and sat herself down comfortably
on it, and began to spin.
'What are you staring at so?' said the new bride to her ladies. 'Do
you think that is anything wonderful? Why, I can do as much myself!'
'I am sure you can't,' said they, much too surprised to be polite.
Then the maid sprang off the stake and left the room, and instantly
the new wife took her place. But the sharp stake ran through, and she
was dead in a moment. So they sent to the prince and said, 'Come
quickly, and bury your wife.'
'Bury her yourselves,' he answered. 'What did she do it for? It was
not by my orders that she impaled herself on the stake.'
So they buried her; and in the evening the prince came to the
daughter of Buk Ettemsuch, and said to her, 'Speak to me, or I shall
have to take another wife.' But she was afraid to speak to him.
The following day the prince hid himself in the room and watched.
And soon the maiden woke, and said to the pitcher and to the water-jug,
'Quick! go down to the spring and bring me some water; I am thirsty.'
And they went. But as they were filling themselves at the spring,
the water-jug knocked against the pitcher and broke off its spout. And
the pitcher burst into tears, and ran to the maiden, and said:
'Mistress, beat the water-jug, for he has broken my spout!'
'By the head of Buk Ettemsuch, I implore you not to beat me!'
'Ah,' she replied, 'if only my husband had sworn by that oath, I
could have spoken to him from the beginning, and he need never have
taken another wife. But now he will never say it, and he will have to
go on marrying fresh ones.'
And the prince, from his hiding-place, heard her words, and he
jumped up and ran to her and said, 'By the head of Buk Ettemsuch, speak
So she spoke to him, and they lived happily to the end of their
days, because the girl kept the promise she had made to the ogre.
[Märchen und Gedichte aus der Stadt Tripolis. Von Hans Stumme.]
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 better.'
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
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.
They had only half finished, when a lame fox came out of a wood and
begged them to give him something to eat. But they jumped up and chased
him off with their sticks, and the poor fox limped away on his three
pads. As he ran he reached the spot where the youngest son was getting
out the food he had brought with him, and the fox asked him for a crust
of bread. The simpleton had not very much for himself, but he gladly
gave half of his meal to the hungry fox.
'Where are you going, brother?' said the fox, when he had finished
his share of the bread; and the young man told him the story of his
father and the wonderful vine.
'Dear me, how lucky!' said the fox. 'I know what has become of it.
Follow me!' So they went on till they came to the gate of a large
'You will find here the vine that you are seeking, but it will not
be at all easy to get it. You must listen carefully to what I am going
to say. Before you reach the vine you will have to pass twelve
outposts, each consisting of two guards. If you see these guards
looking straight at you, go on without fear, for they are asleep. But
if their eyes are shut then beware, for they are wide awake. If you
once get to the vine, you will find two shovels, one of wood and the
other of iron. Be sure not to take the iron one; it will make a noise
and rouse the guards, and then you are lost.'
The young man got safely through the garden without any adventures
till he came to the vine which yielded a tun of wine an hour. But he
thought he should find it impossible to dig the hard earth with only a
wooden shovel, so picked up the iron one instead. The noise it made
soon awakened the guards. They seized the poor simpleton and carried
him to their master.
'Why do you try to steal my vine?' demanded he; 'and how did you
manage to get past the guards?'
'The vine is not yours; it belongs to my father, and if you will not
give it to me now, I will return and get it somehow.'
'You shall have the vine if you will bring me in exchange an apple
off the golden apple-tree that flowers every twenty-four hours, and
bears fruit of gold.' So saying, he gave orders that the simpleton
should be released, and this done, the youth hurried off to consult the
'Now you see,' observed the fox, 'this comes of not following my
advice. However, I will help you to get the golden apple. It grows in a
garden that you will easily recognise from my description. Near the
apple-tree are two poles, one of gold, the other of wood. Take the
wooden pole, and you will be able to reach the apple.'
Master Simpleton listened carefully to all that was told him, and
after crossing the garden, and escaping as before from the men who were
watching it, soon arrived at the apple-tree. But he was so dazzled by
the sight of the beautiful golden fruit, that he quite forgot all that
the fox had said. He seized the golden pole, and struck the branch a
sounding blow. The guards at once awoke, and conducted him to their
master. Then the simpleton had to tell his story.
'I will give you the golden apple,' said the owner of the garden,
'if you will bring me in exchange a horse which can go round the world
in four-and-twenty hours.' And the young man departed, and went to find
This time the fox was really angry, and no wonder.
'If you had listened to me, you would have been home with your
father by this time. However I am willing to help you once more. Go
into the forest, and you will find the horse with two halters round his
neck. One is of gold, the other of hemp. Lead him by the hempen halter,
or else the horse will begin to neigh, and will waken the guards. Then
all is over with you.'
So Master Simpleton searched till he found the horse, and was struck
dumb at its beauty.
'What!' he said to himself, 'put the hempen halter on an animal like
that? Not I, indeed!'
Then the horse neighed loudly; the guards seized our young friend
and conducted him before their master.
'I will give you the golden horse,' said he, 'if you will bring me
in exchange a golden maiden who has never yet seen either sun or moon.'
'But if I am to bring you the golden maiden you must lend me first
the golden steed with which to seek for her.'
'Ah,' replied the owner of the golden horse, 'but who will undertake
that you will ever come back?'
'I swear on the head of my father,' answered the young man, 'that I
will bring back either the maiden or the horse.' And he went away to
consult the fox.
Now, the fox who was always patient and charitable to other people's
faults, led him to the entrance of a deep grotto, where stood a maiden
all of gold, and beautiful as the day. He placed her on his horse and
prepared to mount.
'Are you not sorry,' said the fox, 'to give such a lovely maiden in
exchange for a horse? Yet you are bound to do it, for you have sworn by
the head of your father. But perhaps I could manage to take her place.'
So saying, the fox transformed himself into another golden maiden, so
like the first that hardly anyone could tell the difference between
The simpleton took her straight to the owner of the horse, who was
enchanted with her.
And the young man got back his father's vine and married the real
golden maiden into the bargain.
[Contes Populaires Slaves. Traduits par Louis Léger. Paris: Ernest