A certain miller had little by little fallen into poverty, and had nothing left but his mill and a large apple-tree behind it. Once when he had gone into the forest to fetch wood, an old man stepped up to him whom he had never seen before, and said, "Why dost thou plague thyself with cutting wood, I will make thee rich, if thou wilt promise me what is standing behind thy mill?" - "What can that be but my apple-tree?" thought the miller, and said, "Yes," and gave a written promise to the stranger. He, however, laughed mockingly and said, "When three years have passed, I will come and carry away what belongs to me," and then he went. When the miller got home, his wife came to meet him and said, "Tell me, miller, from whence comes this sudden wealth into our house? All at once every box and chest was filled; no one brought it in, and I know not how it happened." He answered, "It comes from a stranger who met me in the forest, and promised me great treasure. I, in return, have promised him what stands behind the mill; we can very well give him the big apple-tree for it." - "Ah, husband," said the terrified wife, "that must have been the devil! He did not mean the apple-tree, but our daughter, who was standing behind the mill sweeping the yard."
The miller's daughter was a beautiful, pious girl, and lived through the three years in the fear of God and without sin. When therefore the time was over, and the day came when the Evil-one was to fetch her, she washed herself clean, and made a circle round herself with chalk. The devil appeared quite early, but he could not come near to her. Angrily, he said to the miller, "Take all water away from her, that she may no longer be able to wash herself, for otherwise I have no power over her." The miller was afraid, and did so. The next morning the devil came again, but she had wept on her hands, and they were quite clean. Again he could not get near her, and furiously said to the miller, "Cut her hands off, or else I cannot get the better of her." The miller was shocked and answered, "How could I cut off my own child's hands?" Then the Evil-one threatened him and said, "If thou dost not do it thou art mine, and I will take thee thyself." The father became alarmed, and promised to obey him. So he went to the girl and said, "My child, if I do not cut off both thine hands, the devil will carry me away, and in my terror I have promised to do it. Help me in my need, and forgive me the harm I do thee." She replied, "Dear father, do with me what you will, I am your child." Thereupon she laid down both her hands, and let them be cut off. The devil came for the third time, but she had wept so long and so much on the stumps, that after all they were quite clean. Then he had to give in, and had lost all right over her.
The miller said to her, "I have by means of thee received such great wealth that I will keep thee most delicately as long as thou livest." But she replied, "Here I cannot stay, I will go forth, compassionate people will give me as much as I require." Thereupon she caused her maimed arms to be bound to her back, and by sunrise she set out on her way, and walked the whole day until night fell. Then she came to a royal garden, and by the shimmering of the moon she saw that trees covered with beautiful fruits grew in it, but she could not enter, for there was much water round about it. And as she had walked the whole day and not eaten one mouthful, and hunger tormented her, she thought, "Ah, if I were but inside, that I might eat of the fruit, else must I die of hunger!" Then she knelt down, called on God the Lord, and prayed. And suddenly an angel came towards her, who made a dam in the water, so that the moat became dry and she could walk through it. And now she went into the garden and the angel went with her. She saw a tree covered with beautiful pears, but they were all counted. Then she went to them, and to still her hunger, ate one with her mouth from the tree, but no more. The gardener was watching; but as the angel was standing by, he was afraid and thought the maiden was a spirit, and was silent, neither did he dare to cry out, or to speak to the spirit. When she had eaten the pear, she was satisfied, and went and concealed herself among the bushes. The King to whom the garden belonged, came down to it next morning, and counted, and saw that one of the pears was missing, and asked the gardener what had become of it, as it was not lying beneath the tree, but was gone. Then answered the gardener, "Last night, a spirit came in, who had no hands, and ate off one of the pears with its mouth." The King said, "How did the spirit get over the water, and where did it go after it had eaten the pear?" The gardener answered, "Some one came in a snow-white garment from heaven who made a dam, and kept back the water, that the spirit might walk through the moat. And as it must have been an angel, I was afraid, and asked no questions, and did not cry out. When the spirit had eaten the pear, it went back again." The King said, "If it be as thou sayest, I will watch with thee to-night."
When it grew dark the King came into the garden and brought a priest with him, who was to speak to the spirit. All three seated themselves beneath the tree and watched. At midnight the maiden came creeping out of the thicket, went to the tree, and again ate one pear off it with her mouth, and beside her stood the angel in white garments. Then the priest went out to them and said, "Comest thou from heaven or from earth? Art thou a spirit, or a human being?" She replied, "I am no spirit, but an unhappy mortal deserted by all but God." The King said, "If thou art forsaken by all the world, yet will I not forsake thee." He took her with him into his royal palace, and as she was so beautiful and good, he loved her with all his heart, had silver hands made for her, and took her to wife.
After a year the King had to take the field, so he commended his young Queen to the care of his mother and said, "If she is brought to bed take care of her, nurse her well, and tell me of it at once in a letter." Then she gave birth to a fine boy. So the old mother made haste to write and announce the joyful news to him. But the messenger rested by a brook on the way, and as he was fatigued by the great distance, he fell asleep. Then came the Devil, who was always seeking to injure the good Queen, and exchanged the letter for another, in which was written that the Queen had brought a monster into the world. When the King read the letter he was shocked and much troubled, but he wrote in answer that they were to take great care of the Queen and nurse her well until his arrival. The messenger went back with the letter, but rested at the same place and again fell asleep. Then came the Devil once more, and put a different letter in his pocket, in which it was written that they were to put the Queen and her child to death. The old mother was terribly shocked when she received the letter, and could not believe it. She wrote back again to the King, but received no other answer, because each time the Devil substituted a false letter, and in the last letter it was also written that she was to preserve the Queen's tongue and eyes as a token that she had obeyed.
But the old mother wept to think such innocent blood was to be shed, and had a hind brought by night and cut out her tongue and eyes, and kept them. Then said she to the Queen, "I cannot have thee killed as the King commands, but here thou mayst stay no longer. Go forth into the wide world with thy child, and never come here again." The poor woman tied her child on her back, and went away with eyes full of tears. She came into a great wild forest, and then she fell on her knees and prayed to God, and the angel of the Lord appeared to her and led her to a little house on which was a sign with the words, "Here all dwell free." A snow-white maiden came out of the little house and said, 'Welcome, Lady Queen," and conducted her inside. Then they unbound the little boy from her back, and held him to her breast that he might feed, and laid him in a beautifully-made little bed. Then said the poor woman, "From whence knowest thou that I was a queen?" The white maiden answered, "I am an angel sent by God, to watch over thee and thy child." The Queen stayed seven years in the little house, and was well cared for, and by God's grace, because of her piety, her hands which had been cut off, grew once more.
At last the King came home again from the war, and his first wish was to see his wife and the child. Then his aged mother began to weep and said, "Thou wicked man, why didst thou write to me that I was to take those two innocent lives?" and she showed him the two letters which the Evil-one had forged, and then continued, "I did as thou badest me," and she showed the tokens, the tongue and eyes. Then the King began to weep for his poor wife and his little son so much more bitterly than she was doing, that the aged mother had compassion on him and said, "Be at peace, she still lives; I secretly caused a hind to be killed, and took these tokens from it; but I bound the child to thy wife's back and bade her go forth into the wide world, and made her promise never to come back here again, because thou wert so angry with her." Then spoke the King, "I will go as far as the sky is blue, and will neither eat nor drink until I have found again my dear wife and my child, if in the meantime they have not been killed, or died of hunger."
Thereupon the King travelled about for seven long years, and sought her in every cleft of the rocks and in every cave, but he found her not, and thought she had died of want. During the whole of this time he neither ate nor drank, but God supported him. At length he came into a great forest, and found therein the little house whose sign was, "Here all dwell free." Then forth came the white maiden, took him by the hand, led him in, and said, "Welcome, Lord King," and asked him from whence he came. He answered, "Soon shall I have travelled about for the space of seven years, and I seek my wife and her child, but cannot find them." The angel offered him meat and drink, but he did not take anything, and only wished to rest a little. Then he lay down to sleep, and put a handkerchief over his face.
Thereupon the angel went into the chamber where the Queen sat with her son, whom she usually called "Sorrowful," and said to her, "Go out with thy child, thy husband hath come." So she went to the place where he lay, and the handkerchief fell from his face. Then said she, "Sorrowful, pick up thy father's handkerchief, and cover his face again." The child picked it up, and put it over his face again. The King in his sleep heard what passed, and had pleasure in letting the handkerchief fall once more. But the child grew impatient, and said, "Dear mother, how can I cover my father's face when I have no father in this world? I have learnt to say the prayer, 'Our Father, which art in Heaven,' thou hast told me that my father was in Heaven, and was the good God, and how can I know a wild man like this? He is not my father." When the King heard that, he got up, and asked who they were. Then said she, "I am thy wife, and that is thy son, Sorrowful." And he saw her living hands, and said, "My wife had silver hands." She answered, "The good God has caused my natural hands to grow again;" and the angel went into the inner room, and brought the silver hands, and showed them to him. Hereupon he knew for a certainty that it was his dear wife and his dear child, and he kissed them, and was glad, and said, "A heavy stone has fallen from off mine heart." Then the angel of God gave them one meal with her, and after that they went home to the King's aged mother. There were great rejoicings everywhere, and the King and Queen were married again, and lived contentedly to their happy end.
"磨房后面不就是那棵苹果树吗？"磨房主想。 "行。"他说着就写了个承诺给陌生人。 陌生人嘲笑地说："三年之后，我会来取走属于我的东西。"说完便走了。
磨房主的女儿是个美丽、虔诚的姑娘，她敬畏上帝、没犯任何过失。 三年过去了，在恶魔要来带她走那天，她将自己从头到脚洗得干干净净，用粉笔绕着自己画了一个圈。 恶魔很早就来了，可就是没法靠近姑娘。 他怒气冲冲地对磨房主说："把水全给我拿走！让她没法洗得那么干净。要不然我对她就没有魔法了。"
磨房主害怕，只得照办。 第二天，恶魔又来了。 可姑娘的泪水把她的手冲得十分干净。 恶魔还是没法靠近她，因此气势汹汹地对磨房主说："把她的手砍掉，要不然我对她就没有魔力了！"磨房主吓了一跳，回答说："我怎么能砍自己孩子的手呢！"恶魔威胁说："如果你不这么做，你就是我的，我就要把你带走。"这位父亲吓坏了，答应照他说的去做。 他走到女儿跟前，对她说："我的孩子，假如我不砍掉你的手，恶魔就要把我抓走，我吓坏了，就答应了他。现在请你帮帮我，饶恕我对你的伤害吧。"姑娘回答说："亲爱的父亲，尽管砍吧，我是你的孩子。"说着，她伸出了双手，让父亲砍下了。
恶魔第三次来到磨房。 可是姑娘一直在哭泣，泪水将残肢冲洗得十分洁净。 恶魔只好放弃了，而且对姑娘失去了所有权。
磨房主对女儿说："我以你为代价换取了这么多财富。只要你活着，我就会让你过得舒舒服服的。"可是姑娘回答说："我不能住在这里，我情愿出去，有同情心的人们会给我所需要的东西的，"她请人将她残废的手绑到身后，等太阳升起来的时候，便出发了。 她走了一整天，太阳下山时她来到一个皇家花园，在闪烁的月光中，她看到园子里挂满了诱人的果子的果树。 但是她无法进去，因为果园被一道满是水的深壕围住了。
姑娘已经走了整整一天了，而且没吃过任何东西。 她饿得要命。 "啊，如果我在果园里面就能吃到水果了，"她想，"否则我准会饿死的！"她跪到地上向上帝祈祷。 忽然，有个天使向她走来，在水中筑起一道堤坝。 这样一来，壕中的水干了，姑娘就可以走到果园去了，天使陪着她一起进了果园。 果园的树上挂满了迷人的梨子，可每个上面都编了号，姑娘来到梨子树前，用嘴咬下一只吃了，然后满足地钻进了灌木丛。 园丁看到了这一切，可见天使站在姑娘身边，便以为是幽灵，有些害怕，所以不敢出声，更不敢大声喊叫。
果园的主人是个国王。 第二天，他来到果园数梨时发现少了一个，而且并没有落在地上。 他问园丁怎么回事，园丁回复说："昨晚来了个幽灵，没有手，用嘴咬掉了一个。""幽灵怎么越过水沟的呢？吃完梨之后上哪儿去了呢？"国王问。
天黑了，国王带着牧师来到果园。 他要牧师来是为了和幽灵对话。 他们三人坐在树下等着、看着。 半夜时分，姑娘从灌木丛里爬了出来，走到梨树下，用嘴咬下一个梨，身穿白袍的天使仍然陪着她。 牧师从树下走出来对他们说："你们是从天上来的，还是从地下来的？是人还是鬼？"姑娘回答说："我不是鬼，我是个不幸的人。除了上帝外，人人都抛弃了我。"国王接口说："即使世界上所有的人都抛弃了你，我也不会那么做的。"他将姑娘带回王宫，姑娘的美貌和善良使国王深深地爱上了她。 他为姑娘做了一双银手，并娶她为妻。
一年以后，国王不得不远行。 他将年轻的王后托咐给母亲，说："假如她生了孩子，请好好照顾她，同时尽快把消息告诉我。"后来姑娘果真生了个健康漂亮的男孩，国王年迈的母亲立刻将这一令人振奋的消息写在信上派人给国王送去。 但送信人在路上的一条小溪边歇息的时候睡着了。 再说那个恶魔一直想伤害好心的王后。 这时，他将另一封信放进信使的口袋里，上面说王后生了一个妖怪。 国王收到信后十分震惊，而且百思不得其解。 他回信要大家仍悉心照料王后，一切等他回来再说。 送信人带着国王的信往回走，又在来时歇息的地方打了个盹。 恶魔又把另一封信装进信使的口袋，上面要他们将王后和她生的孩子处死。
国王的母亲见信后大惊失色，简直不敢相信。 因此又写了一封信给国王，可是没有回音。 因为恶魔每次都把信换了。 最后一封信上要求把王后的舌头和眼睛挖出来留作服从国王命令的见证。
可怜的妇人把孩子背到背上，含泪离开了王宫。 她来到一座大森林里，跪下来向上帝祈祷。 天使来到她跟前，把她领到一座小屋前。 那里挂着一块牌子，上面写着："一切免费。"一位雪白的侍女从屋里走出来说："欢迎你，王后。"然后将她引进屋里。 她将孩子从王后背上解下来，抱到她怀里让孩子吃奶，随后将孩子放到一张做得极其精致的小床上。 可怜的妇人问："你怎么知道我是个王后。"白侍女回答说："我是个天使，上帝派我来照顾你和孩子的。"王后在这里生活了七年，受到很好的照顾。 由于她虔诚地信仰上帝，因此上帝让她被砍断的双手又长了出来。
于是国王找了七年，不吃也不喝，但是上帝在暗中帮助他支撑着。 他找遍了每一个石缝、每一个山洞，但还是没有找到，他想她准是因为缺衣少食死了。 最后他来到了大森林，看到了小屋和上面挂着的"一切免费"的牌子。 白衣侍女走出来，拉着他的手将他领进屋子说："欢迎光临，国王陛下。"又问他从何而来。 国王回答说："我出来寻找我妻子和孩子已经七年了，我几乎找遍了每一个地方，可就是找不到。"天使请国王吃点肉、喝点酒，国王什么也没吃，说只想休息一下。
天使走进王后和她儿子"悲伤"住的房间，对她说："带着孩子出去吧，你丈夫找你们来了。"于是王后带着儿子来到国王睡觉的地方。 手帕从国王的脸上滑落到地上，王后对儿子："悲伤，去把你父亲的手帕捡起来，盖到他脸上。"孩子走过去，捡起手帕盖到国王脸上。 国王在睡梦中听到了，便很高兴地让手帕再次滑落到地上。 可孩子不耐烦地说："亲爱的母亲，我在这世上不是没父亲吗？你怎么叫我用手帕盖住父亲的脸？我已经学会祈祷'我们在天之父'，你不是说我父亲在天国吗，是仁慈的上帝，现在怎么又说这陌生人是我父亲？他不是我父亲。"国王一听，马上坐了起来，问他们是谁。 王后回答说："我是你的妻子，他是你的儿子'悲伤'。"
上帝派来的天使和他们一起吃了最后一顿饭。 随后国王带着妻儿回到王宫，见到了老母亲，到处一片欢腾。 国王和王后再次举行了婚礼，从此永远幸福满足地生活在一起。