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The Anglish Moot

Aesop's Tales/Hermod and the Axeman

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An axeman was felling a tree on the bank of a stream, and happened to let his axe slip into the water, whereupon it sunk straight away to the bottom. Thereupon, he sat down by the side of the stream and bemoaned his loss bitterly. But Hermod whose stream it was,looking mildheartedly upon him, stood, in the next breath, before him; and hearing from him the grounds of his sorrow, dived to the bottom of the stream, and bringing up a golden axe, asked the axeman if that was his. Upon the man’s saying that it wasn't, Hermod dived a second time, and brought up one made of silver. Once more the man said that it also was not his. So diving a third time, Hermod brought forth the axe which the man had lost, “that is mine” said the axeman, gladden to have gotten back his own; and so taken was Hermod with the man's truthfulness and uprighteousness, that he at once made him a gift of the other two.

The man meet up later with some of his fellow axemen, and giving them a tale of what had happened to him, one of them felt bent to try if he might not have the same good luck. So going to the same stream and, as if shaping to cut wood, he let slip his axe into the stream, and then sat down on the bank, and weeping made a great din and dither. Hermod came forth as before, and hearing from him that his tears were for the loss of his axe, dived once more into the stream; and bringing up a golden axe, asked if that was the axe he had lost. “Yes, that's it, said the man quickly and wilfully; and was about to grasp it by its' golden head, when Hermod, scolded him for his gall and lying, and not only withheld from him that axe, but would not so much as give back to him his own axe.

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