The Honest Woodcutter
The Honest Woodcutter Story

There once was a woodcutter who lived with his wife and two children in a forest far from town. The woodcutter built his home with logs that he cut himself. The house was not big or fancy, but it was warm and dry. The family was not rich, but they were happy and lived comfortably.

One morning while eating breakfast, the family joked about what their lives would be like if they had lots of money. The woodcutter wished for a bigger house, his wife dreamed of eating from fine china plates, and the children imagined playing with all sorts of wonderful toys.

When breakfast ended, the woodcutter put on his hat, grabbed his ax, and headed to work. His family stood on the porch of the house and waved good-bye to him as he walked deep into the forest.

The woodcutter worked in the oldest part of the forest, where the trees grew tallest and thickest. These trees were also the hardest to chop down, but they were no problem for the woodcutter. He was the best around. The woodcutter simply sharpened his trusty old ax and went to work.

Soon wood chips flew through the air, and the forest echoed with the loud sound of the woodcutter’s ax chopping.The Honest Woodcutter story

A little squirrel happened to be nearby collecting nuts, and she heard the noise of the woodcutter’s ax. The squirrel went to see who was making all the noise and was amazed by how quickly the woodcutter chopped. She sat on a large pile of neatly stacked logs that the woodcutter had chopped earlier that morning. The woodcutter did not notice that the squirrel was sitting there. He thought only about cutting more wood so he could give his family all the things they wanted.

Each day the woodcutter worked until noon and then took a short break. He liked to walk to the edge of the river to catch his breath, eat lunch, and have a nice refreshing drink of water.

The woodcutter never took too much time for lunch. He always wanted to get back to work. The more he worked, the more wood he could cut. And the more wood he cut, the better off his family would be.

This day, just like every other day, the woodcutter was taking his lunchtime break. He was very thirsty and walked quickly to the river get a drink. If he had been paying more attention to where he was going, the woodcutter would have noticed a rock that was right in his path. “Yikes!” shouted the woodcutter as he tripped over the rock. When he fell, the woodcutter’s ax slipped out of his hands and landed in the middle of the river.

Honest WoodcutterThe woodcutter picked himself up and ran to the edge of the water. He looked into the river, hoping to see his ax, but it was no use!

The river was fast and deep. The ax was probably long gone by now. Without his ax, the woodcutter could not chop wood. And without wood, he could not buy the things his family wanted. Without his ax, the woodcutter wouldn’t even be able to buy food.

The woodcutter hung his head and began to moan, “What am I going to do? That was my only ax! How can I earn a living for my family now?” Suddenly the river started to make noise. The woodcutter looked up and saw the water rising. Then the water grew arms and a head, and it started to talk to him! “I am the water sprite, a fairy of this river. Why are you so sad?”Honest Woodcutter story

After the woodcutter told him what had happened, the water sprite said, “Don’t worry. I can help you. I’ll go down to the bottom of the river to find your ax.”

In an instant the sprite was gone, and the river began to swirl and foam. After a few moments, the water sprite appeared again. This time the sprite smiled and held something in his watery hands. “Is this your ax?” he asked the woodcutter. “I found it in the rocks.” The woodcutter looked closely at the ax. Whoever owned it was rich indeed. The ax was so shiny and beautiful. It was made of pure silver! The woodcutter thought about taking it. He could sell the ax and buy many fine things for his family.

Woodcutter storyThere was just one problem, though. The ax did not belong to him, and it would be wrong to say it was his. Finally the woodcutter said, “I cannot take this ax. It is not mine.”

The water sprite was surprised. He tossed the silver ax on the ground and said, “Very well, I’ll look for your ax again.”

Once again the sprite left to look for the woodcutter’s ax at the bottom of the river. And once again the river began to swirl and foam. When the water sprite returned after a few moments, he held an ax that was more magnificent than the first one. It was made of solid gold!

“This must be yours,” said the sprite. The woodcutter held the amazing gold ax for a moment. This ax could make him very rich. He could buy a big house in town, fine china dishes for his wife, and all the toys that his children could dream of! Honest Woodcutter story

But the woodcutter gave the ax back to the sprite. “This is a fine ax, and you are kind to offer it to me,” he explained. “But this ax is not mine. I am sure someone is looking for it and misses it.”

The water sprite smiled and said, “Well, I see that you will take only your own ax. Let me look for it once more.”

For a third time the magic water sprite left to look for the woodcutter’s ax. When the sprite returned, he held another ax. This one was much different than the first two that he had brought to the woodcutter.

This ax wasn’t shiny at all, and the handle was worn from use. The woodcutter smiled and said, “Ah yes! This is my ax.”

The water sprite shook his head. “Are you sure you want this ax? The other two are so much finer!”

The Honest Woodcutter“Yes, but they are not mine,” said the woodcutter. He held his steel ax and said, “This ax has cut more trees than I can count. It was good enough for me before, so it must be good enough for me now.”

The water sprite smiled and said, “Your ax is not worth much, but your honesty is. The silver and gold axes belong to me. I want you to take them as a gift for telling the truth.”The woodcutter was very excited to have all three axes.The woodcutter thanked the water sprite for the beautiful axes and decided that he would leave the forest early that day. Instead of going straight home, he went into town to go shopping. The Honest Woodcutter short story

The woodcutter couldn’t wait to get to the store. He was sure that the store owner would buy the gold and silver axes from him. When the woodcutter arrived, he handed the fine axes to the store owner. The owner looked them over carefully and finally said, “These are the best axes that I have ever seen. I will gladly buy them from you.”

The store owner was very generous. He gave the woodcutter a large sack of gold coins. Now the woodcutter was rich! He bought an armful of beautiful flowers and a set of fine china plates for his wife. He also bought a big bag of toys for his children.

The woodcutter had lots of gold left over, and he carried it all back home with him. His wife and children were surprised that the woodcutter was home so early. They ran from the house to meet him.When the woodcutter’s wife saw the china plates and the flowers, she was so happy that tears came to her eyes. When the children saw the big bag filled with toys, they squealed with joy.

The Honest Woodcutter story kidsThe woodcutter told his family all that had happened to him during the day. That night, as he and his wife were putting the children to bed, his son looked up at him and asked, “Why did the water sprite give you all three axes?”

Then the woodcutter’s daughter said, “Because you told the truth, right?”

“That’s right,” said the honest woodcutter, “because I told the truth.”

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