Once upon a time, a woodcutter lived in a village close to a forest. He was hard working and honest. Every morning, he would get up at the break of dawn, take his axe and go to the forest. He would cut wood and sell it in the nearby market. With the money he earned, he looked after his family. He led a contented life.
He always took care to cut a few branches from a tree, leaving the tree unharmed. Once a month, he would plant a few saplings which would grow into trees over the years.
One day, he took his axe and set off for work. He climbed a tree to chop some branches. His axe accidentally slipped from his hand and fell into the pond below.
He dove into the pond to look for his axe under the water. No matter how hard he tried, he could not find it. He sat under a tree feeling helpless. He was sad that he had lost the axe, which was his companion. He also wondered how he was going to earn a living now. He had no money to buy a new axe.
There was an angel who lived in the pond. Coming out of the water, she asked the woodcutter why he was looking so sad. The poor woodcutter told his story.
“Wait, let me see what I can do,” said the angel and vanished.
After some time, she appeared, holding an axe in her hand.
“Is this yours?” she asked. The wood cutter looked at the axe. The angel was holding a golden axe. It was bright and shining.
The woodcutter shook his head. “This is not mine. My axe was made of iron with a wooden handle,” he said.
The angel disappeared. When she appeared again, she was holding a silver axe. The woodcutter again shook his head, saying it was not his.
“Oh!” said the angel and she again disappeared. This time she appeared with an iron axe with a wooden handle. The woodcutter jumped in joy. “Yes. This is mine. Thank you very much; you have brought back my axe. Now I can cut wood and earn my livelihood,” he said.
Then angel was happy with the woodcutter. “I’m pleased with your honesty. You can have all three axes,” she said.
The woodcutter thanked the angel but took back only one — the old axe which had fallen into the pond. “I don’t want things that are not mine. Please do not tempt me,” he said, and gave the golden and silver axes back to the angel.
The woodcutter walked away happily, humming a song. The angel smiled, as she vanished into thin air.