George Washington is known as one of our nation's great leaders, but he was once a little boy.

©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Many stories and books have been written about George Washington. When the American colonies fought for their freedom, George Washington led the soldiers against the British. When the brand-new country needed a leader, Washington served as its first president.

The legend of George Washington's honesty is just as famous as these true stories of bravery. It is called a legend because no one has any records to say that the story really happened.

Did young George Washington chop down a cherry tree? Maybe not. But this legend shows just how important it is for everyone to tell the truth.

Let's go back now to the time when George Washington was a young boy. He had just received a gift from his father that was, to him, the best present a boy could ask for.

Young George was thrilled with this gift from his father.

2007 Publications International, Ltd.

What a fine day it was for young George Washington! At just six years old, he had his very own hatchet. George was proud of his new hatchet. It felt solid in his small hands. Its blade was shiny and sharp. George swung the hatchet through the air just to see the sun shine on it.

His father stopped him. "A hatchet is not a toy, George," his father warned. "It can do much harm if you are not careful. Always be careful when you use it."

George nodded at his father's words. His father was talking to him like a man. Owning a hatchet was a serious thing, indeed. George promised he would always be very careful with it.

Once he was outside, though, George felt more excited than serious. His family's farm seemed full of things to cut. George started testing the hatchet's sharpness in the fields.

First George tested his hatchet on a row of weeds at the edge of the cornfield. It sliced through their thin stems. The row of tall weeds became a pile of cut weeds. George smiled. He took aim at the thicker stalks of the corn plants.

Whack! Three cornstalks fell with a rustle and a crunch. George stepped back, startled. He looked at his hatchet with a new respect. His father was right. He would have to be careful.

The sharp hatchet cut quickly through all kinds of things -- even an ear of corn.

©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Then George saw that an ear of corn had fallen to the ground. It was even thicker than the cornstalks. George's hatchet sliced the corncob in half with no problem.

Not far from the cornfield, George's father tended to his fruit trees. His father was proud of the sweet apples, peaches, and pears that the trees gave his family. He kept the trees' branches trimmed, and watched them for any sign of sickness.

Mr. Washington gave extra attention to his youngest tree. It was a cherry tree, and it had come from far away. The cherry tree had been just a sapling when Mr. Washington planted it. Each year, Mr. Washington watched it grow stronger.

Mr. Washington took very good care of his cherry tree.

©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

This year, there were blossoms on its branches. Perhaps, he thought, it might even give fruit. Mr. Washington thought of the fresh cherries they could pick.

Then he thought of the cherry pies Mrs. Washington could bake with the sweet cherries. He smiled to himself as he gave the cherry tree a pat.

George ran up to Mr. Washington as he walked back to the house for supper. "This hatchet works well, Father," he said.

His father smiled. "Yes, I've seen you using it."

"Thank you again, Father, for such a wonderful gift," said George as he ran inside to get ready for dinner.

Continue to the next page to find out what happened to George Washington next.

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