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Out from the cave walked three fat little men, the queerest little fellows possible, with long hair, long noses, long chins, and very long hands. And as they came out, they danced and sprang about like young frogs. Then one said, “ Soft ! here's Master Cheery, who let us out. In return for his kindness, I promise him that the horse he shall buy at market shall have the speed of the wind.” “And I,” said the second, “say the horse shall never tire under weight or work.” And the third little old man promised that, after three years' service, the horse should run away with all the ill luck in the house. As he finished, the three little grigs scampered back into the cave as quick as they could, singing in chorus: "A smiling face and a ready hand Outweigh the riches of all the land ; For the face gets fat, while the hand doth toil, Heedless of every one's chatter or coil.”
Cheery laughed hard enough at the little men's promises, and Grumble muttered, “Ah! ah! promises are ready payment. 'Twas a pity they hadn't better thanks in their pocket.
On the two millers trudged to market, and when they got there, they found such strings of horses tied by their tails to be sold, that Cheery could not make up his mind which to buy, and Grumble did not help him, but managed to find some fault with every one of the horses.
After they had been wandering half the day long, quite undetermined what to do, an odd, grim-looking, little old man, who had been standing with his arms folded, his back against the warm sunnied wall, cried out that his pony (as fat and as sleek as could be) was for sale; and more, too—that Cheery should have him at his own price.
Grumble said the pony was much too fat for work—that he was sure he could not be sound—that he'd a vicious eye—that his hind legs were clumsy :-here the pony gave him such a switch with his tail, that Grumble clapped his hands to his mouth, and of needs held his tongue.
Cheery bought the pony, and paid twenty gold pieces down for him.
So home they went, Grumble in a sad way, and Cheery better pleased every step he took, with his purchase.
The next morning, when Cheery went to feed the pony in the manger, there lay the twenty gold pieces in the bin; the very same Cheery had paid the day before.
From that day all went well at the mill. The flour was always the earliest in the market, and brought the highest price; there were more sacks on the pony's back than three horses
could carry. Cheery bought a cart; and let him fill it as heavy as he would, the pony never slacked his pace, but trotted on, and seemed as fresh and as fat after a day's work, as when he was first taken out of the stable.
In a year's time Cheery married a merry little cherry-lipped wife, as lively and sprightly as himself, and things went on so excellently well, that Grumble got worse-tempered than ever at having nothing to find fault with. Above all, he had the strongest dislike to the grey pony; for not long after he had been at the mill, Grumble tried to ride him, and the pony ducked him in the pond, dragged him through the briers, and soused him at last into a ditch by the mill. So Grumble for a long time brooded over this, but could not find an opportunity for his revenge.
After three years, as the little old men had declared, Cheery's affairs were so thriving that he and Grumble were nearly the head men of the parish, and they were both made overseers of the poor. Cheery was always for kindness to the poor old people, but Grumble was a harsh tyrant, and would never give them an atom more help than he could avoid.
Grumble had never forgiven the pony, and when these millers got rich enough to have other horses, he took it into his head one night to run down to the stable to take the pony out, and kill him in some field far away. He had thought often and often how to harm the pony, but all his trials had been baffled somehow or another. Sometimes folks were in the stable; at other times the pony was in the fields; then Cheery had the keys of the stable. But this night Grumble had the keys himself: the night was