一个退伍士兵失去了生活来源，不知道怎么活下去，他走到了森林中。 他走了一会儿，碰见了一个小矮人，谁知这矮人就是魔鬼。 小矮人对他说："你怎么啦，看上去很烦躁。"那士兵回答："我饿了，可又没钱。"魔鬼说："如果你让我雇你做我的仆人，你今生今世就有吃有穿了。你得替我服务七年，以后你就自由了。但有一件事我必须说清楚，那就是七年中你不能洗脸、梳头、剪指甲、剪头发和擦眼泪水。"士兵回答："好吧，如果没有别的办法的话。"说完便跟着小矮人往前走，小矮人一直领他到了地狱里。 然后，魔鬼告诉他应该做的事：他得烧旺大锅底下的火，锅里煮着的是魔鬼吃的烧肉；他得收拾屋子，把垃圾扫到门背后，并随时保持各处整洁。 但是，如果他一旦偷看锅里的东西，他就要倒霉。 士兵说："好的，我会注意的。"然后，老魔鬼又出去游荡了，而士兵则开始着手他的新任务，烧火，扫地，把垃圾堆到门后，一切都按主人吩咐去做。 老魔鬼回家来检查一切是否照做了，看上去很满意，就又出去了。 这时，士兵才有闲好好看看周围的一切：只见地狱四周架着一口口大锅，锅下火势正旺，锅里煮得噼啪直响，要不是魔鬼特别关照，说什么他也得瞅瞅里面有什么。 终于，他实在忍耐不住，就揭开第一个锅盖一点儿，往里瞅去。 可他却看见了他原来的下士坐在里面。 "哈哈，老伙计，"他说道，"我怎么在这儿见到你？以前你管我，现在我管你了。"说着很快盖严了锅盖，并添了些新柴，扇旺了火。 然后，他走到第二个锅前，也揭开一点儿锅盖往里瞅，看见里边坐着他以前的准尉："哈哈，老伙计，我居然在这儿见到你。以前你管我，现在我管你了。"他又盖紧锅盖并搬来一块大木头，把火烧得更旺。 接着，他想看看谁会坐在第三口锅里，结果竟是他以前的将军。 "哈哈，老伙计，我怎么在这儿见到你。以前你管我，现在我管你了。"说着，他拿来只风箱，把将军下面的火吹得旺旺的。 就这样，士兵在地狱里服役了七年，既没洗脸、梳头，也没剪指甲、剪头发甚至擦眼泪。 他觉得这七年很短，就像才半年。 当期满这一天到来时，魔鬼走过来说："喂，汉斯，你都做了些什么？""我烧过火，扫过地，并把垃圾堆在了门后。""但你还瞅过锅里，幸亏你添了柴火，否则你就没命了。现在，你的服务期到了，你想回家吗？""想。"士兵答道："我很想去看看我父亲在家怎么样。"魔鬼说："为了给你所挣的酬劳，你去把你的背袋装满垃圾带回家。你走的时候也不许洗脸、梳头，要留着长长的头发胡子，还有没剪过的指甲，并且泪眼迷蒙。当人家问你从那里来时，你就说："从地狱来。 "当人家问你是谁，你得说："我是魔鬼的邋遢兄弟，他也是我的国王。 "士兵没吭声，就照着魔鬼说的去做了，但他对得到的报酬一点也不满意。
一回到树林里，他就从背上取下背包准备倒空。 可一打开包，发现里面的垃圾全变成了金子。 "真没想到！"他高兴极了，说着便走进城去。 一个店主站在旅店门口，见到士兵走来，吓了一大跳，因为汉斯的样子实在叫人害怕，比吓唬麻雀的稻草人还可怕。 店主叫住他，问道："你从哪里来。""从地狱来。""你是谁？""是魔鬼的邋遢兄弟，他也是我的国王。"店主一听，就不让他进入。 可当汉斯向店主亮了他的金子后，店主就亲自替他开了门。 汉斯要了最好的房间和仆人，吃饱喝足了，却照魔鬼吩咐并不洗漱，就躺下睡觉。 但是，店主眼前一直晃动着这一兜金子，感到坐卧不安。 到了深夜，他溜进去偷走了那袋金子。 第二天早上，汉斯起床后，想付了房钱继续上路，一看他的背袋没了。 但他马上镇定下来，心想："你是无辜受害呀。"所以他径直回到地狱，向老魔鬼诉苦，并求他帮忙。 魔鬼说："坐下来，我替你洗脸、梳头、剪指甲和头发，擦去眼泪水。"做完这些后，他又给了他一背袋垃圾，说："去吧，告诉店主他必须还你金子，否则我就去逮他，让他顶替你来烧火。"汉斯回到旅店，对店主说："你偷了我的金子，如果你不还我，你就得到地狱去顶替我，变得像我一样丑陋可怕。"店主听了，还了他的金子，并且还另外加了一些，只求他别声张，这样，汉斯就成了一个富人。
汉斯上了路，回父亲身边去了。 他买了一件破旧褂子穿上，四周游荡着，一路奏乐卖艺，因为他在地狱与魔鬼在一起时学会了这一手艺。 当时，当政的是位老国王，汉斯奉命前去为国王演奏。 老国王很赞赏他的演奏技艺，就把他的大女儿许配给他做了妻子。 当公主听说要嫁给一个穿破褂子的平民百姓时，就说："我宁可跳海淹死，也不想嫁给他。"然后，国王就把小女儿许配给了他。 为了使国王父亲高兴，小公主倒是很乐意。 这样，魔鬼的邋遢兄弟娶了国王的女儿做妻子，当老国王死后，还当上了国王。
A disbanded soldier had nothing to live on, and did not know how to get on. So he went out into the forest and when he had walked for a short time, he met a little man who was, however, the Devil. The little man said to him, "What ails you, you seem so very sorrowful?" Then the soldier said, "I am hungry, but have no money." The Devil said, "If you will hire yourself to me, and be my serving-man, you shall have enough for all your life? You shall serve me for seven years, and after that you shall again be free. But one thing I must tell you, and that is, you must not wash, comb, or trim yourself, or cut your hair or nails, or wipe the water from your eyes." The soldier said, "All right, if there is no help for it," and went off with the little man, who straightway led him down into hell. Then he told him what he had to do. He was to poke the fire under the kettles wherein the hell-broth was stewing, keep the house clean, drive all the sweepings behind the doors, and see that everything was in order, but if he once peeped into the kettles, it would go ill with him. The soldier said, "Good, I will take care." And then the old Devil went out again on his wanderings, and the soldier entered upon his new duties, made the fire, and swept the dirt well behind the doors, just as he had been bidden. When the old Devil came back again, he looked to see if all had been done, appeared satisfied, and went forth a second time. The soldier now took a good look on every side; the kettles were standing all round hell with a mighty fire below them, and inside they were boiling and sputtering. He would have given anything to look inside them, if the Devil had not so particularly forbidden him: at last, he could no longer restrain himself, slightly raised the lid of the first kettle, and peeped in, and there he saw his former corporal shut in. "Aha, old bird!" said he, "Do I meet you here? You once had me in your power, now I have you," and he quickly let the lid fall, poked the fire, and added a fresh log. After that, he went to the second kettle, raised its lid also a little, and peeped in; his former ensign was in that. "Aha, old bird, so I find you here! You once had me in your power, now I have you." He closed the lid again, and fetched yet another log to make it really hot. Then he wanted to see who might be sitting up in the third kettle it was actually be but a general. "Aha, old bird, do I meet you here? Once you had me in your power, now I have you." And he fetched the bellows and made hell-fire blaze right under him. So he did his work seven years in hell, did not wash, comb, or trim himself, or cut his hair or nails, or wash the water out of his eyes, and the seven years seemed so short to him that he thought he had only been half a year. Now when the time had fully gone by, the Devil came and said, "Well Hans, what have you done?" - "I poked the fire under the kettles, and I have swept all the dirt well behind the doors." - "But you have peeped into the kettles as well; it is lucky for you that you added fresh logs to them, or else your life would have been forfeited; now that your time is up, will you go home again?" - "Yes," said the soldier, "I should very much like to see what my father is doing at home." The Devil said, "In order that you may receive the wages you have earned, go and fill your knapsack full of the sweepings, and take it home with you. You must also go unwashed and uncombed, with long hair on your head and beard, and with uncut nails and dim eyes, and when you are asked whence you come, you must say, 'From hell,' and when you are asked who you are, you are to say, 'The Devil's sooty brother, and my King as well.'" The soldier held his peace, and did as the Devil bade him, but he was not at all satisfied with his wages.
Then as soon as he was up in the forest again, he took his knapsack from his back, to empty it, but on opening it, the sweepings had become pure gold. "I should never have expected that," said he, and was well pleased, and entered the town. The landlord was standing in front of the inn, and when he saw the soldier approaching, he was terrified, because Hans looked so horrible, worse than a scare-crow. He called to him and asked, "Whence comest thou?" - "From hell." - "Who art thou?" - "The Devil's sooty brother, and my King as well." Then the host would not let him enter, but when Hans showed him the gold, he came and unlatched the door himself. Hans then ordered the best room and attendance, ate, and drank his fill, but neither washed nor combed himself as the Devil had bidden him, and at last lay down to sleep. But the knapsack full of gold remained before the eyes of the landlord, and left him no peace, and during the night he crept in and stole it away.
Next morning, however, when Hans got up and wanted to pay the landlord and travel further, behold his knapsack was gone! But he soon composed himself and thought, "Thou hast been unfortunate from no fault of thine own," and straightway went back again to hell, complained of his misfortune to the old Devil, and begged for his help. The Devil said, "Seat yourself, I will wash, comb, and trim you, cut your hair and nails, and wash your eyes for you," and when he had done with him, he gave him the knapsack back again full of sweepings, and said, "Go and tell the landlord that he must return you your money, or else I will come and fetch him, and he shall poke the fire in your place." Hans went up and said to the landlord, "Thou hast stolen my money; if thou dost not return it, thou shalt go down to hell in my place, and wilt look as horrible as I." Then the landlord gave him the money, and more besides, only begging him to keep it secret, and Hans was now a rich man.
He set out on his way home to his father, bought himself a shabby smock-frock to wear, and strolled about making music, for he had learned to do that while he was with the Devil in hell. There was however, an old King in that country, before whom he had to play, and the King was so delighted with his playing, that he promised him his eldest daughter in marriage. But when she heard that she was to be married to a common fellow in a smock-frock, she said, "Rather than do that, I would go into the deepest water." Then the King gave him the youngest, who was quite willing to do it to please her father, and thus the Devil's sooty brother got the King's daughter, and when the aged King died, the whole kingdom likewise.