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    Chapter 4

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    Chapter 4
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    THE CHEATER CHEATED



    Johnnie Green thought he had done something quite clever. He had coaxed Twinkleheels up to him in the pasture with an empty grain measure.

    Twinkleheels, however, had his own ideas about the matter.

    "This boy," he said to old dog Spot, "has cheated me."

    Spot lay on the barn floor, looking on while Johnnie Green harnessed Twinkleheels.

    "This boy," Twinkleheels explained, "made me think he had some oats for me. He caught me unfairly."

    Old dog Spot grinned. "Can't you take a joke?" he asked.

    "This is no joke," Twinkleheels grumbled. "Johnnie is going to drive me over the hill. They're going to have a ball game over there. And you know folks are always in a hurry when they're going to a ball game--especially boys. And they're in the most terrible hurry of all when somebody else has to get them there. If Johnny Green had to walk, maybe he'd think there was time to stop and rest now and then."

    Old Spot recalled the day when he followed Twinkleheels to the village and back.

    "I don't see what you're grumbling about," he remarked. "I've run behind your little buggy and you kept snapping the miles off as if it was the easiest thing you did."

    "You'd grumble yourself if you were cheated of a taste of oats that you were expecting," said Twinkleheels.

    "I never eat oats," Spot retorted.

    "Then you don't know what's good," Twinkleheels declared. "After getting your mouth all made up for oats, it's pretty disappointing to chew on nothing more appetizing than an iron bit."

    Old dog Spot snickered.

    Twinkleheels stamped one of his tiny feet upon the barn floor.

    "It will never happen again!" he cried.

    Old Spot gave him a sharp look.

    "I hope," he said, "you don't intend to hurt Johnnie Green. I hope you aren't planning to run away with him."

    "No!" Twinkleheels assured him. "I'm too well trained to run away, though I must say Johnnie Green deserves a spill. But of course I wouldn't do such a thing as to tip the buggy over. What I have in mind is something quite different. It's harmless." And that was all he would say.

    He took Johnnie Green to the ball game. And he brought him home again. He was so well-behaved that when Johnnie turned him into the pasture, afterward, Johnnie never dreamed that Twinkleheels could be planning any mischief.

    The next morning Johnnie took Twinkleheels' halter and the four-quart measure with three big handfuls of oats in it. Then he walked up the lane to the pasture, leaned over the bars and whistled.

    Though there was no pony in sight, Twinkleheels soon came strolling out from behind a clump of bushes. He took his own time in picking his way down the hillside, as though he might be glad to keep Johnnie Green waiting.

    "Come on! Come on!" Johnnie called. "Come and get your oats!" And he shook the measure before him.

    To his great surprise, Twinkleheels didn't come running up and reach out to get the oats. Instead, he stopped short, with his feet planted squarely under him, as if he didn't intend to budge. Johnnie Green took one step towards him. And then Twinkleheels whisked around and ran. He shook his head and kicked up his heels. And something very like a laugh came floating back to Johnnie Green's ears.

    Johnnie followed him all over the pasture. And when the dinner horn sounded at the farmhouse Johnnie had to go home without Twinkleheels.

    The afternoon was half gone before Twinkleheels let his young master put the halter on him. By that time Johnnie Green had learned something that he never forgot.

    Never again did he cheat Twinkleheels with an empty measure. He knew that Twinkleheels expected fair play, just as much as the boys with whom Johnnie played ball, over the hill.
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