Devadutta was a simple and honest man. He lived in the village with his wife and two children.
On the first day of every week, Devadutta would go into the forest in search of good timber. He would cut a tree and bring the wood into his house. He had a donkey on which would carry his wood.
In the evening, Devadutta he would slice the wood he had brought home into planks. His wife would have prepared food by then. After dinner, he would go to sleep.
In the remaining days of the week, Devadutta would make the wooden planks he had brought into chairs, tables, doors or any other piece of wooden furniture used in homes. He would then sell it in the village market as it assembled every Friday.
This normal routine continued until one day Devadutta fell on hard times. He lost his business. His wooden products were no longer in demand. Of late, there had been increased competition from other carpenters nearby. His products were no longer selling as they used to earlier.
He went less frequently into the forest as he no longer required wood in the quantities he required earlier. He was also short on money. Devadutta struggled to make sure that his wife and children had enough to eat every day. He was sad at his situation.
One day, after an interval of two weeks, Devadutta went into the forest with his donkey. He was thinking over his difficult situation. He looked at the trees to find a suitable one to cut for timber. He could not find any. The day was hot. He went deeper into the forest. After wandering for a long time, he came across a river that flowed in the middle of the forest. Devadutta was thirsty and he stooped to drink the clear water of the river. He felt refreshed. As he turned to leave, his eyes fell on a big tree near the river. The tree was what he had been looking for. It was tall and wide enough to provide good quality timber. Devadutta was happy that he had found a tree at last. But, there was a problem. The tree was located very close to the river.
Devadutta had to be very careful while he was chopping it. Devadutta took the axe he had been carrying. The axe was very precious to him. The axe head was made of bronze. He was very proud of his axe. It was sharp and quick. Even a few strokes with it could bring down a tree.
Tying his donkey to another tree nearby, Devadutta set about chopping the tree. He tied his turban around his forehead and started delivering the blows with his axe. Thud...Thud...Thud.. the blows rang out across the forest. Devadutta delivered the blows faster than before. Chips of wood from the tree flew to the sides as he delivered his powerful strokes.
Devadutta did not notice that the metal head of the axe was getting loose from the wooden handle of the axe. The axe head detached itself from the handle of the axe and fell into the river. Devadutta was shocked. The axe-head was very expensive. He could not buy a new one without spending a huge amount of money. Without his axe, he had lost his livelihood. He stood speechless for a while. He looked at the river where he stood. It was a deep and fast flowing river. Devadutta knew swimming. But it was useless in such a deep river with such swift currents. The river may carry him away and he may drown.
Devadutta stood beside the river pondering over his misfortune. How would he feed his family. He would have to borrow money now from the money lender. How would he pay it back! While he was thinking like this, he saw a sudden flash of light ahead him. As he looked at the brightness, a beautiful fairy stepped out of the light. Devadutta was astonished and frightened. “Who are you?” he asked.
“I am the fairy who lives beside the river”, the fairy replied, “What are you looking for?”
Devadutta sadly narrated his tale of misfortune. He was almost in tears. “Don’t worry!”, the fairy reassured him, ”I will dive into the river and search for your axe-head”. Those words made Devadutta happy.
In an instant, the fairy dived into the river. The fairy did not come up for several minutes. Devadutta grew anxious. Finally, she arrived. On the fairy’s hand was something shiny. It looked like an axe-head. The fairy showed the axe-head to Devadutta. “Is this yours?” she asked. “This is made of gold!” Devadutta remarked,” This is not mine. Mine is made of bronze”. The fairy took the axe head and returned to the river. After a few minutes, she came up again with another axe head. “Is this one yours?”she asked. Devadutta saw that the axe-head was made of silver. “This is not mine either”, he said.
The fairy again dove into the river. She came back with another axe-head. “Is this yours”, she asked. Devadutta recognized that it was his own axe-head. “This is mine!”, he said with joy. The fairy smiled at him. “Devadutta”, she said, “I knew that this one was yours. I just wanted to test you with the other two axe-heads made of gold and silver. You are indeed a truly honest man.”. The fairy then stretched forth her hand. “You may have these two axe-heads as well”, the fairy said. On her hand were the gold and silver axe-heads the fairy had shown Devadutta. The fairy handed over the two axe-heads to Devadutta and disappeared. Devadutta was joyous. He was happy at his good fortune. Now he was a rich man. He could provide well for his family. Maybe he would start a better business too. He returned home a happy man.