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The Woodcutter and the Axe

Story of the Honest Woodcutter from the Fables of Aesop

One day a woodcutter lost his ax in a pond.He sat down by the water and said to himself,

“What shall I do? I have lost my ax.”

All at once a man stood beside him.

“What have you lost?” asked the man.

“I have lost my ax,” said the woodcutter.

The man said nothing, but jumped into the pond and soon came out with a golden ax.

“Is this your ax?” he asked.

“No,” said the honest woodcutter, “my ax was not a golden ax.”

The man jumped in again, and soon came out with a silver ax.

“Is this your ax?” asked the man.

“No,” said the woodcutter, “my ax was not a silver ax.”

Again the man jumped in.This time he came out with the ax that the woodcutter had lost.

“Is this your ax?” he asked.

“Yes,” said the woodcutter, “thank you! How glad I am! But who are you, kind sir? You must be more than a man.”

“I am Mercury,” said the other, “and you are an honest woodcutter. I will give you the golden ax and the silver ax.”

The woodcutter thanked him and went home.Soon he met another woodcutter and told what Mercury had done.This other woodcutter thought he should like a golden ax, too.So he went to the pond and threw his ax into the water.Then he sat down and began to cry,

“O, I have lost my ax! What shall I do? What shall I do?”

Mercury came again and jumped into the water.Soon he came out with a golden ax.

“Is this your ax?” he asked.

“O, yes, yes! that is my ax,” said the man.

“No, it is not,” said Mercury. “You are not an honest woodcutter, and you shall have no golden ax.”

“Then get my own ax for me,” said the woodcutter.

“Get it yourself,” said Mercury.

With that he went away and was seen no more.

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