Mercury and the Woodman

47. MERCURY AND THE WOODMAN. A poor woodman, by mischance, dropped his axe into the river. As he sat weeping: on the bank, Mercury appeared to him, and on being told of the misfortune, plunged into the stream and brought out a golden axe. This the man refused to take, saying that it was not his. Again the god dived and brought out a silver axe, and again the honest man would not take what was not his own. Once more Mercury plunged in, and this time brought out the real axe, and upon the man claiming it as his, the god, pleased with his honesty, gave him both the gold and the silver axes as well as his own. The woodman went home joyfully and told his friends of the happy adventure.
Thereupon one of them going to the river, threw in his axe, and sat down on the bank and wept loudly. Mercury came as before, but this woodman was dishonest, and on being shown the golden axe, he lied, and swore that it was his. This made the god so angry that he sent the man away, without even giving him back his own axe. [more info]

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