There once was a woodcutter who lived with his wife and two children in a forest far from town. The woodcutter built his home with logs that he cut himself. The house was not big or fancy, but it was warm and dry. The family was not rich, but they were happy and lived comfortably.

One morning while eating breakfast, the family joked about what their lives would be like if they had lots of money. The woodcutter wished for a bigger house, his wife dreamed of eating from fine china plates, and the children imagined playing with all sorts of wonderful toys.

When breakfast ended, the woodcutter put on his hat, grabbed his ax, and headed to work. His family stood on the porch of the house and waved good-bye to him as he walked deep into the forest.

The woodcutter worked in the oldest part of the forest, where the trees grew tallest and thickest. These trees were also the hardest to chop down, but they were no problem for the woodcutter. He was the best around. The woodcutter simply sharpened his trusty old ax and went to work.

Soon wood chips flew through the air, and the forest echoed with the loud sound of the woodcutter's ax chopping.

A little squirrel happened to be nearby collecting nuts, and she heard the noise of the woodcutter's ax. The squirrel went to see who was making all the noise and was amazed by how quickly the woodcutter chopped.

The squirrel watched the woodcutter do his job.

The squirrel was impressed as she watched the woodcutter chop.

©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

She sat on a large pile of neatly stacked logs that the woodcutter had chopped earlier that morning. The woodcutter did not notice that the squirrel was sitting there. He thought only about cutting more wood so he could give his family all the things they wanted.

Each day the woodcutter worked until noon and then took a short break. He liked to walk to the edge of the river to catch his breath, eat lunch, and have a nice refreshing drink of water.

The woodcutter never took too much time for lunch. He always wanted to get back to work. The more he worked, the more wood he could cut. And the more wood he cut, the better off his family would be.

This day, just like every other day, the woodcutter was taking his lunchtime break. He was very thirsty and walked quickly to the river get a drink. If he had been paying more attention to where he was going, the woodcutter would have noticed a rock that was right in his path.

The woodcutter tripped, and his ax went into the river.

When the woodcutter tripped, his ax went flying into the river.

©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

"Yikes!" shouted the woodcutter as he tripped over the rock. When he fell, the woodcutter's ax slipped out of his hands and landed in the middle of the river.

The woodcutter picked himself up and ran to the edge of the water. He looked into the river, hoping to see his ax, but it was no use!

The river was fast and deep. The ax was probably long gone by now. Without his ax, the woodcutter could not chop wood. And without wood, he could not buy the things his family wanted. Without his ax, the woodcutter wouldn't even be able to buy food.

The woodcutter hung his head and began to moan, "What am I going to do? That was my only ax! How can I earn a living for my family now?"

Continue to the next page to see what the woodcutter will do.

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