A tailor and a goldsmith were travelling together, and one evening when the sun had sunk behind the mountains, they heard the sound of distant music, which became more and more distinct. It sounded strange, but so pleasant that they forgot all their weariness and stepped quickly onwards. The moon had already arisen when they reached a hill on which they saw a crowd of little men and women, who had taken each other's hands, and were whirling round in the dance with the greatest pleasure and delight.
They sang to it most charmingly, and that was the music which the travellers had heard. In the midst of them sat an old man who was rather taller than the rest. He wore a parti-coloured coat, and his iron-grey beard hung down over his breast. The two remained standing full of astonishment, and watched the dance. The old man made a sign that they should enter, and the little folks willingly opened their circle. The goldsmith, who had a hump, and like all hunchbacks was brave enough, stepped in; the tailor felt a little afraid at first, and held back, but when he saw how merrily all was going, he plucked up his courage, and followed. The circle closed again directly, and the little folks went on singing and dancing with the wildest leaps. The old man, however, took a large knife which hung to his girdle, whetted it, and when it was sufficiently sharpened, he looked round at the strangers. They were terrified, but they had not much time for reflection, for the old man seized the goldsmith and with the greatest speed, shaved the hair of his head clean off, and then the same thing happened to the tailor. But their fear left them when, after he had finished his work, the old man clapped them both on the shoulder in a friendly manner, as much as to say, they had behaved well to let all that be done to them willingly, and without any struggle. He pointed with his finger to a heap of coals which lay at one side, and signified to the travellers by his gestures that they were to fill their pockets with them. Both of them obeyed, although they did not know of what use the coals would be to them, and then they went on their way to seek a shelter for the night. When they had got into the valley, the clock of the neighbouring monastery struck twelve, and the song ceased. In a moment all had vanished, and the hill lay in solitude in the moonlight.
The two travellers found an inn, and covered themselves up on their straw-beds with their coats, but in their weariness forgot to take the coals out of them before doing so. A heavy weight on their limbs awakened them earlier than usual. They felt in the pockets, and could not believe their eyes when they saw that they were not filled with coals, but with pure gold; happily, too, the hair of their heads and beards was there again as thick as ever.
They had now become rich folks, but the goldsmith, who, in accordance with his greedy disposition, had filled his pockets better, was as rich again as the tailor. A greedy man, even if he has much, still wishes to have more, so the goldsmith proposed to the tailor that they should wait another day, and go out again in the evening in order to bring back still greater treasures from the old man on the hill. The tailor refused, and said, "I have enough and am content; now I shall be a master, and marry my dear object (for so he called his sweetheart), and I am a happy man." But he stayed another day to please him. In the evening the goldsmith hung a couple of bags over his shoulders that he might be able to stow away a great deal, and took the road to the hill. He found, as on the night before, the little folks at their singing and dancing, and the old man again shaved him clean, and signed to him to take some coal away with him. He was not slow about sticking as much into his bags as would go, went back quite delighted, and covered himself over with his coat. "Even if the gold does weigh heavily," said he, "I will gladly bear that," and at last he fell asleep with the sweet anticipation of waking in the morning an enormously rich man.
When he opened his eyes, he got up in haste to examine his pockets, but how amazed he was when he drew nothing out of them but black coals, and that howsoever often he put his hands in them. "The gold I got the night before is still there for me," thought he, and went and brought it out, but how shocked he was when he saw that it likewise had again turned into coal. He smote his forehead with his dusty black hand, and then he felt that his whole head was bald and smooth, as was also the place where his beard should have been. But his misfortunes were not yet over; he now remarked for the first time that in addition to the hump on his back, a second, just as large, had grown in front on his breast. Then he recognized the punishment of his greediness, and began to weep aloud. The good tailor, who was wakened by this, comforted the unhappy fellow as well as he could, and said, "Thou hast been my comrade in my travelling time; thou shalt stay with me and share in my wealth." He kept his word, but the poor goldsmith was obliged to carry the two humps as long as he lived, and to cover his bald head with a cap.
一个裁缝和一个金匠一起外出旅行。 一天傍晚太阳下山后，他们听到远处传来了歌声，而且声音越来越清晰。 乐声很怪但又如此悦耳，以致他们忘记了疲劳，赶紧向前走去。 月亮升起时，他们走到了山顶，在那儿看到一大帮个子矮小的男男女女手拉手儿围着圈，在尽情跳舞。
他们唱的歌非常动听，刚才两人听到的就是这歌声。 在那些人中间坐着一位长者，他比其他人都要高，身穿一件杂色外套，花白的胡子垂至胸前。 那两个人还站在那儿，满脸惊讶地看着他们跳舞呢，老人示意他们加入，那些小人们也热心地散开了一个口子。 那个金匠背上有个瘤，就像所有的驼背一样，他大胆地加入了跳舞者的圈子，而裁缝开始还有些害怕，想退缩，但他看到所有人都玩得那样开心，便也鼓起勇气加入了他们的行列。 舞圈马上又合拢了，小人们又继续载歌载舞，欢乐无比。 只见那位老者从腰间抽出把大刀，把刀磨得锋利无比，既而把目光转向了两位陌生人。 他们都吓坏了，他俩还没来得及思索，就见老人抓住了金匠，以迅雷不及掩耳之速把他的头发和胡子给剃得个精光，裁缝同样也未能逃脱此劫。 等完事后，两人又马上感到恐惧荡然无存了。 因为老人友好地拍了拍他俩的肩膀，奇怪的是，他俩觉得是自愿地让老人把头发剃下来的，毫无反抗。 他指了指堆在一边的煤堆，示意他俩用煤渣填满口袋，虽然他俩不知道这些东西对他们有什么用，二话没说便照着老人说的去做了。 接着他们就动身去找一间过夜的小屋，当他们到达山谷时，附近僧院的钟声刚刚响过十二点，人们都停止了歌唱。 过了一会儿一切都结束了，这座山在月光下显得幽寂而静谧。
两个旅行者找到一家小酒店，躺在了草垫床上，用大衣盖住了身体，他们毕竟太累了，忘了把煤块拿出来，沉重的负担把他俩早早地压醒了。 他们把手伸进口袋，简直不能相信自己的眼睛，袋里装的不是煤块，而是金子。 更可喜的是，他俩的头发、胡子变得又长又浓又密，和以前没有什么两样了。
现在他俩都成了有钱的人，但是那位金匠由于贪婪成性，顺便多装了些煤块，自然比裁缝富得多了。 贪婪的人即使拥有很多，希望得到的也越多。 所以金匠建议他俩多呆一天 ，晚上再出去到老人那儿，以便得到更多的金银财宝。 裁缝没有答应，他说："我知足了，现在我将成为一个财主，娶一个我心爱的恋人，而且我也是个幸福的人。"但为了朋友，他决定多呆一天。 为了能装回更多财宝，当晚金匠肩上背着许多大包，乐滋滋地上了路。 正如前天晚上一样，他发现小人们又在唱歌跳舞，老人又给他剃了个光头，让他带走一些煤块。 他毫不犹豫地把包装得满满的，满心喜悦地走回来，身上全是大包小包。 "即使金子背起来很重，"他说，"我也能承受。"最后他甜甜地进入了梦乡，梦见自己清晨醒来变成了一个大富翁。
当他睁开双眼伸手来摸口袋时，发现自己什么也没摸到，只摸到一些黑煤块，不禁惊讶万分。 "前天晚上我得到的那些金子一定还在那儿。"他心想，然后把那个口袋拿了出来，结果惊奇的发现它们也变成了煤块。 他又用又黑又脏的手摸了摸前额，突然发现他的整个脑袋又秃又平，长胡子的地方也同样如此。 但是他的噩运还没完，他突然注意到他胸部也长出了一块和背上一样大的东西。 那时他才意识到这一切都是对他贪婪成性的惩罚，便开始大哭起来。 哭声一下把好心的裁缝给闹醒了，裁缝马上安慰那个可怜的人，并说："旅行时咱们一直结伴而行，你应当和我一起分享我的财产。"他许下了诺言，但那个可怜的金匠不得不带着两个肿块度过余生，并不时用帽子遮住他那光光的脑袋。