The Three Axes of River God – Lithuanian Folk Tale

The Story of the Three Axes of River God

The Three Axes of River God is a Lithuanian Folktale that praises honest and hardworking people while mocking the excessively greedy wealthy.

Once upon a time, in a small village, there lived a poor peasant who possessed only a single iron axe. Every day, he would venture into the forest to chop wood, and then sell it at the market for a living.

The Young Peasant Dropped His Axe into the River
The Young Peasant Dropped His Axe into the River

– Oh heavens! Without my axe, how can I chop wood? What am I going to do now?

Suddenly, the nearby bushes rustled, revealing an old man with a white beard and kind eyes. The old man inquired:

– What troubles you, young one? Why are you so distraught?

Grieving, the peasant told the old man:

– Sir, my family is destitute, and all we have is this one axe I use to make ends meet. Today, the blade fell into the river, and despite my efforts, I couldn’t find it. I don’t know how I’ll survive and continue supporting my parents.

River God and the Peasant
River God and the Peasant

Finishing his lament, the peasant sighed deeply, seemingly casting a pall of sorrow over his surroundings. Moved by his story, the old man reassured him:

– I thought your troubles were insurmountable. Worry no more! I will help you recover your axe blade.

– But it fell into the river, and I’ve searched many times without success,” the peasant replied.

– Have faith, young one. There’s always a solution.

With these words, the old man removed his shirt. As the young peasant watched the turbulent water ominously, the old man plunged in before the youth could object, increasing his anxiety even more.

River God and the Silver Axe
River God and the Silver Axe

The young man, fearing the old man could be in danger, attempted to jump in after him to help. However, before he could even react, the old man resurfaced, holding a gleaming silver axe in his hand, and asked:

– Is this the axe you dropped earlier?

Astonished by the old man’s abilities, the young peasant realized the silver axe was not his and replied:

– No, sir, this one isn’t mine!

River God and the Golden Axe
River God and the Golden Axe

With that, the old man vanished into the swirling water. After some time, he emerged again, this time holding a dazzling golden axe. He asked:

– Is this the right one?

The young peasant looked at the old man, shook his head, and replied:

– No, sir, this one isn’t mine either. My axe is black.

On the third attempt, the old man emerged clutching an iron axe. Recognizing it, the young peasant exclaimed with joy:

– This one is the right one, sir! This is the axe I dropped into the water earlier.

The old man went ashore and handed the young peasant the iron axe. Delighted to have it back, he thanked the old man profusely.

The old man gazed at him kindly, then unexpectedly transformed into a silver-haired deity with a white beard. He said:

– You are a truly honest and truthful person. Your eyes are not clouded by greed. Today, I will give you two additional axes: one of gold and one of silver. Take them swiftly.

Gratefully, the young peasant bowed and carefully accepted the two axes with both hands.

The deity stroked his beard and laughed before vanishing, leaving the young peasant overjoyed as he took all three axes home.

The Three Axes Fairy Tale
The Three Axes Fairy Tale

Upon hearing the news of the lucky young peasant, a wealthy rich guy came to inquire about the story from beginning to end. The young peasant honestly told the rich guy everything. Greedy by nature, the old man brought an iron axe with only a blunt blade the next day.

When they arrived at the riverbank, the rich guy raised the axe but before he could make a single strike, the blade fell off and sank to the bottom of the river.

The Greedy Rich Man
The Greedy Rich Man

The rich guy sat and cried inconsolably, but the kind old man from the day before appeared again and helped to search for the axe blade.

For the first time, the old man held the iron axe blade of the rich man and asked:

– Is this your axe blade?

– No, it is not! Mine looks much better!

The old man dived back into the water again, and a moment later, he surfaced with a silver axe blade.

– How about this one?

– Oh no, mine is even more beautiful and shiny than that!

The old man dived into the water for the third time. This time he came up with a golden axe blade, sparkling and dazzling in the sunlight.

– What about this one? Is it yours?

Upon seeing the golden blade, the rich man was overjoyed and said excitedly:

– Yes, that’s it! I cannot be mistaken! Please bring it up to me!

But as the old man was about to hand over the golden axe blade, he asked one more time:

– Are you sure this is your axe blade? Because when I dove down earlier, I saw another axe blade made of diamonds.

The rich man cried out in shock:

– Oh my God! That’s my real axe blade! I was seeing things earlier and mistook the others! Please help me find it!

River God and the Greedy Rich Man
River God and the Greedy Rich Man

The old man chuckled softly and took the golden axe blade with her as he dived back into the water. The rich man sat on the bank, daydreaming about all the things he would buy with the money he would get from selling the diamond axe blade.

But the rich guy sat and waited, waited and waited, yet the old man never surfaced.

The Story of the Three Axes of River God
– Lithuanian Folk Tale –

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