The Honest Woodcutter


The fable of “The Honest Woodcutter,” also known as “Mercury and the Woodman” is an Aesop fable about honesty. Enjoy reading

Listen to The Honest Woodcutter read aloud

In a time long ago, there lived a woodcutter who worked diligently in the forest every day to provide for his family. One day, while he was cutting wood beside a deep, clear lake, his only axe slipped from his hands and fell into the water with a splash.

Distraught, the woodcutter sat down at the water’s edge, worrying about how he would support his family without his tool. As he sat there, a magical being appeared from the lake. It was the water nymph, guardian of the lake.

“Why do you weep, kind woodcutter?” asked the nymph.

“I have lost my axe in your lake, and it was the only means I had to support my family,” replied the woodcutter, his voice filled with sadness.

The nymph dove into the lake and emerged holding a golden axe. “Is this your axe?” she asked.

The woodcutter shook his head. “No, that is not my axe. Mine was a simple axe with a wooden handle.”

Impressed by his honesty, the nymph dove again and this time returned with a silver axe. “And this one, is it yours?” she inquired.

Again, the woodcutter replied honestly, “No, that is not mine either. My axe was much plainer.”

For the third time, the nymph dived into the lake and brought up an old iron axe. “What about this one?” she asked.

With a smile of relief, the woodcutter exclaimed, “Yes! That is my axe, thank you!”

The water nymph was so moved by the woodcutter’s honesty that she rewarded him with not only his own axe but also the golden and silver axes. “Your honesty deserves to be rewarded,” she said.

The woodcutter thanked the nymph profusely and returned home, his heart full of joy. He used the axes wisely and prospered, but more importantly, he continued to live his life with the same honesty and integrity that had served him so well.

And so, the story of the honest woodcutter spread far and wide, teaching generations the value of honesty and integrity.

Also Read: The Goose that Laid the Golden EggsThe Wolf and The Stork

Moral of The Story

The moral of the story of “The Honest Woodcutter” is that honesty is the best policy. Despite being in a difficult situation, the woodcutter chose to tell the truth rather than claim the valuable axes that weren’t his.

His integrity was rewarded not only with the return of his own axe but also with gifts that far exceeded the value of the original item he had lost.

The fable conveys that being truthful and maintaining one’s integrity can lead to positive outcomes, even when it seems like doing so might result in a loss or disadvantage. It illustrates the virtue of honesty and suggests that it is valued and can lead to unexpected rewards.

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