Der var engang tre læger, som rejste rundt i verden og mente, de forstod deres kunst til gavns. De kom en aften til en kro og ville blive der om natten. Værten spurgte, hvor de kom fra, og hvor de skulle hen. "Vi er læger og drager om i verden," sagde de. "Lad mig engang se, hvad I kan," sagde værten. Den første sagde, at han ville hugge sin hånd af og sætte den på næste morgen, den anden ville rive sit hjerte ud og putte det ind igen, den tredie ville stikke øjnene ud og sætte dem ind igen. "Ja, hvis I kan det, er I rigtignok dygtige," sagde værten. De havde imidlertid en salve, som helede alle sår, og flasken, hvori den var, bar de altid hos sig. De skar nu hånden, hjertet og øjnene væk, lagde det altsammen på en tallerken og gav det til værten, og han lod så pigen stille det hen i skabet. Hun var imidlertid hemmeligt forlovet med en soldat. Da værten, lægerne og alle folk i huset sov, kom soldaten og ville have noget at spise. Pigen lukkede så skabet op og hentede noget til ham, men hun var så forelsket, at hun glemte at lukke døren, og satte sig hen ved bordet og snakkede med sin kæreste. Mens hun nok så fornøjet sad der, kom katten listende, så at døren var åben, og snuppede de tre lægers hånd, hjerte og øjne, og stak af. Da soldaten havde spist, og pigen ville sætte tingene bort og lukke skabet, så hun, at den tallerken, værten havde givet hende, var tom. "Hvad skal jeg dog gøre," sagde hun forskrækket til sin kæreste, "hånden og hjertet og øjnene er borte. Hvordan skal det dog gå mig i morgen." - "Ti bare stille," sagde soldaten, "jeg skal nok hjælpe dig. Der hænger en tyv herudenfor, ham skærer jeg hånden af. Hvilken hånd var det?" - "Den højre," svarede pigen, gav ham en skarp kniv, og lidt efter kom han ind med den stakkels synders højre hånd. Derpå stak han øjnene ud på katten, nu manglede de bare hjertet. "Ligger der ikke noget svinekød nede i kælderen?" spurgte han. "Jo," svarede pigen, og soldaten gik så ned og hentede et svinehjerte. Pigen lagde det altsammen på en tallerken og stillede den ind i skabet, og da hendes kæreste var gået, krøb hun roligt i seng.
Da lægerne næste morgen stod op, sagde de til pigen, at hun skulle bringe dem hånden, hjertet og øjnene. Pigen gik hen til skabet og tog tallerkenen, og den første tog tyvens hånd, strøg salve på, og straks voksede den fast. Den anden satte katteøjnene på, den tredie tog svinehjertet. Værten stod beundrende ved siden af og sagde, at sådan noget havde han aldrig set før. Han ville anbefale dem til alle mennesker. Derpå betalte de, hvad de skyldte, og drog videre.
Men han med svinehjertet kunne slet ikke gå roligt med de andre. Hvert øjeblik løb han hen i en krog og snusede omkring ligesom et svin. De andre greb fat i ham og ville holde på ham, men det hjalp ikke, han rev sig løs og løb ud i det værste snavs. Den anden bar sig også ganske mærkeligt ad, gned sine øjne og sagde: "Hvad er det for noget, kammerater, det er jo slet ikke mine øjne. Led mig, ellers falder jeg." Med møje og besvær gik de videre, og om aftenen kom de til en anden kro. De gik ind i stuen, og henne i en krog sad der en mand og talte sine penge. Han med tyvens hånd gik rundt om ham, der kom et par gange en trækning i hans arm, og da manden et øjeblik vendte sig om, greb han en håndfuld penge. Den anden af lægerne så det og sagde: "Fy skam dig. Du må ikke stjæle." - "Det kan jeg ikke gøre for," svarede han, "det trækker i min hånd, og så må jeg gribe til, hvad enten jeg vil eller ej." De gik så i seng, og det var så mørkt, at de ikke kunne se en hånd for sig. Pludselig vågnede han med katteøjnene, vækkede de andre og sagde: "Kan I se den hvide mus, som løber der?" De rejste sig op i sengen, men kunne ikke se noget. "Det er ikke rigtigt fat med os," sagde den første så, "vi har ikke fået vores eget igen. Vi må tilbage til værten, han har narret os." Næste morgen gik de tilbage til kroen og sagde, at værten havde spillet dem et slemt puds. Den ene havde fået en tyvs hånd, den anden katteøjne og den tredie et svinehjerte. Værten sagde, at det måtte være pigens skyld, og kaldte på hende. Men da hun så dem komme, var hun i en fart smuttet ud af bagdøren, og kom ikke mere igen. De tre læger sagde nu, at værten skulle give dem mange penge, ellers ville de lade den røde hane gale. Han gav dem også alt, hvad han kunne skrabe sammen, og dermed drog de videre. De havde nok til hele deres liv, men de ville alligevel hellere have haft deres egne øjne og hånd og hjerte igen.
Three army-surgeons who thought they knew their art perfectly, were travelling about the world, and they came to an inn where they wanted to pass the night. The host asked whence they came, and whither they were going? "We are roaming about the world and practising our art." - "Just show me for once in a way what you can do," said the host. Then the first said he would cut off his hand, and put it on again early next morning; the second said he would tear out his heart, and replace it next morning; the third said he would cut out his eyes and heal them again next morning. "If you can do that," said the innkeeper, "you have learnt everything." They, however, had a salve, with which they rubbed themselves, which joined parts together, and they carried the little bottle in which it was, constantly with them. Then they cut the hand, heart and eyes from their bodies as they had said they would, and laid them all together on a plate, and gave it to the innkeeper. The innkeeper gave it to a servant who was to set it in the cupboard, and take good care of it. The girl, however, had a lover in secret, who was a soldier. When therefore the innkeeper, the three army-surgeons, and everyone else in the house were asleep, the soldier came and wanted something to eat. The girl opened the cupboard and brought him some food, and in her love forgot to shut the cupboard-door again; She seated herself at the table by her lover, and they chattered away together. While she sat so contentedly there, thinking of no ill luck, the cat came creeping in, found the cupboard open, took the hand and heart and eyes of the three army-surgeons, and ran off with them. When the soldier had done eating, and the girl was taking away the things and going to shut the cupboard she saw that the plate which the innkeeper had given her to take care of, was empty. Then she said in a fright to her lover, "Ah, miserable girl, what shall I do? The hand is gone, the heart and the eyes are gone too, what will become of me in the morning?" - "Be easy," said he, "I will help thee out of thy trouble there is a thief hanging outside on the gallows, I will cut off his hand. Which hand was it?" - "The right one." Then the girl gave him a sharp knife, and he went and cut the poor sinner's right hand off, and brought it to her. After this he caught the cat and cut its eyes out, and now nothing but the heart was wanting. "Have you not been killing, and are not the dead pigs in the cellar?" said he. "Yes," said the girl. "That's well," said the soldier, and he went down and fetched a pig's heart. The girl placed all together on the plate, and put it in the cupboard, and when after this her lover took leave of her, she went quietly to bed.
In the morning when the three army-surgeons got up, they told the girl she was to bring them the plate on which the hand, heart, and eyes were lying. Then she brought it out of the cupboard, and the first fixed the thief's hand on and smeared it with his salve, and it grew to his arm directly. The second took the cat's eyes and put them in his own head. The third fixed the pig's heart firm in the place where his own had been, and the innkeeper stood by, admired their skill, and said he had never yet seen such a thing as that done, and would sing their praises and recommend them to everyone. Then they paid their bill, and travelled farther.
As they were on their way, the one with the pig's heart did not stay with them at all, but wherever there was a corner he ran to it, and rooted about in it with his nose as pigs do. The others wanted to hold him back by the tail of his coat, but that did no good; he tore himself loose, and ran wherever the dirt was thickest. The second also behaved very strangely; he rubbed his eyes, and said to the others, "Comrades, what is the matter? I don't see at all. Will one of you lead me, so that I do not fall." Then with difficulty they travelled on till evening, when they reached another inn. They went into the bar together, and there at a table in the corner sat a rich man counting money. The one with the thief's hand walked round about him, made a sudden movement twice with his arm, and at last when the stranger turned away, he snatched at the pile of money, and took a handful from it. One of them saw this, and said, "Comrade, what art thou about? Thou must not steal shame on thee!" - "Eh," said he, "but how can I stop myself? My hand twitches, and I am forced to snatch things whether I will or not."
After this, they lay down to sleep, and while they were lying there it was so dark that no one could see his own hand. All at once the one with the cat's eyes awoke, aroused the others, and said. "Brothers, just look up, do you see the white mice running about there?" The two sat up, but could see nothing. Then said he, "Things are not right with us, we have not got back again what is ours. We must return to the innkeeper, he has deceived us." They went back therefore, the next morning, and told the host they had not got what was their own again; that the first had a thief's hand, the second cat's eyes, and the third a pig's heart. The innkeeper said that the girl must be to blame for that, and was going to call her, but when she had seen the three coming, she had run out by the backdoor, and not come back. Then the three said he must give them a great deal of money, or they would set his house on fire. He gave them what he had, and whatever he could get together, and the three went away with it. It was enough for the rest of their lives, but they would rather have had their own proper organs.