Aesop's Fables: Townsend (1867)
166. The Trees and the Axe (Perry 302)
A MAN came into a forest and asked the Trees to provide him a handle
for his axe. The Trees consented to his request and gave him a young ash-tree.
No sooner had the man fitted a new handle to his axe from it, than he
began to use it and quickly felled with his strokes the noblest giants
of the forest. An old oak, lamenting when too late the destruction of
his companions, said to a neighboring cedar, 'The first step has lost
us all. If we had not given up the rights of the ash, we might yet have
retained our own privileges and have stood for ages.'
George Fyler Townsend's translation of the fables, first published in 1867, is
in the public domain and can be found at many websites, including Project
Illustrations come from: Aesop's Fables, by George Fyler Townsend, with
illustrations by Harrison Weir, 1867, at Google