A Lithuanian tale, this version is taken from the 1938 anthology Wonder Tales from Baltic Wizards by Frances Jenkins Olcott.
Once on a time, a poor man went into the woods to the riverbank. He chopped down a tree, chop! chop! As he chopped, crick! crack! the axehead fell from its handle, splash! into the deep water of the river.
The poor man cried out, “Oh-o-o-o-o! My axe! A-a-a-a-a-a-a! Who will fish it out for me? My poor little axe!”
Just then, limpity, limpity! limp! a very very old man came limping up, and asked:
“Why do you yell so loud? What has happened to you?”
“Oh-o-o-o-o! My axehead is gone. It has fallen into the water, and I have nothing to buy another with. I am so poor! How can I chop down trees now, and earn bread for my children?”
“Be quiet! Stop yelling! I will fish it out for you.”
And then–rip! rip! rip! the old man tore off his coat, and sprang, splish, splash! into the water. After a while, hippity, hop! he stood up in the water, and held Out a golden axehead.
“There! Take it! Isn’t that your axe?”
“O no! O no! It isn’t mine,” answered the poor man.
Again, splish, splash! the old man dived under the water. After a while, hippity, hop! he stood up with an axehead of silver.
“It isn’t mine!” cried the poor man hardly looking at it at all.
The third time, splish, splash! into the water, and the old man brought up the iron axehead.
“That is my little axe! That is my little axe!” shrieked the poor man full of joy. “Thanks be to you, that I have it again!”
He grasped the axe, snitch, snatch! from the old man’s hand. Then right about face! Forward march! He started for his home. But:-
“Hi, there!” cried the old man after him. “Because you are such an honest, contented man, here, I’ll give you these golden and silver axeheads.”
When the poor man reached home, chit! chat! chit! how he chattered about it all! And a neighbor heard him, a greedy man, a Never-Enough.
The Never-Enough thought a bit, ran! rin! ran into the woods, and Aha! chopped a tree, chip! chop! in the same place. His axehead, which he had loosened, fell splash! into the water.
Then he began to yell, “Oh-o-o-o-o-o-o-o!”
Limpity, limpity! limp! the old man stood there.
“What has happened to you?”
“My own little axehead, splash! has fallen into the water and sunk. Who will find it for me?”
“I will!” cried the old man, and sprang splish, splash! into the water.
After a while, hippity, hop! there he was again in the water, with the iron axehead.
“Here is your axe.”
“That isn’t mine! That isn’t mine! answered the Never-Enough.
Again, splish, splash! the old man in the water, and hippity, hop! after a while back again with the silver axehead!
“Is that yours?”
“It’s not mine! Mine was different.”
The third time, splish, splash, splish! the old man in the water, and hippity, hop! out of the water again with the golden axehead!
“That is mine!” cried the greey Never-Enough, full of joy.
And because he lied so shamelessly, hi there! the old man dived into the water, and did not come back.
As for the golden axehead, zip! it passed close to the nose of the Never-Enough. He kept on waiting, waiting, for some one to bring him a diamond axehead!
And maybe he is waiting there still!