An old miller said to his three apprentices, "I am old. I will give the mill to the one who brings me the best horse and he shall take care of me until my death."
The apprentices went off in search of the best horse. The third boy, named Hans, was looked on as foolish by the others and they decided to make sure that Hans would not receive the mill.
After they lay down to sleep in a cave, the others waited until Hans had fallen asleep. Then they got up and quietly left. When the sun rose the next morning and Hans woke up, he was lying alone in a deep cavern.
He went into the forest, and met a small cat. “I know well your desire," said the cat. “Come with me! Be my faithful servant for seven years and then I will give you the best horse.”
Hans followed the cat to an enchanted castle where there was nothing but more cats who were all servants.
In the evening when they sat down to dinner, three of them had to make music.
Every day, Hans had to serve the cat and chop some wood. He also built a small house with silver tools. Eventually, he told the cat that he had now done everything he was asked, and still he had no horse.
The seven years had flown by as if they were six months. The cat finally led him to the horse. He was so handsome and strong that Hans’ heart rejoiced at the sight of him.
The cat allowed Hans to go home and promised to bring him the horse after three days.
When Hans reached home, the other two apprentices were already there and each of them had brought a horse with them. When they saw Hans, they laughed and said, “Stupid Hans, where is your horse?"
After three days, a beautiful princess came by with a coach pulled by the finest horses and asked to see the miller's boy. This princess was actually the little tabby-cat whom poor Hans had served for seven years.
The princess gave the best horses to the miller and said that he was to keep his mill as well. She took her faithful Hans with her in the coach and drove away.
The little house which Hans had built with the silver tools was now a magnificent castle and everything inside was made of silver and gold. When they married, Hans was so rich that he had enough of everything for the rest of his life.
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