A Narrator tells the story of a Soldier coming home on leave while the war goes on. He is far from home and is very tired from walking. But suddenly, while on his way home, there appears the Devil. He offers him a deal: to exchange his fiddle (his soul) for a magic book with the power to provide everything asked. This way, the Soldier gets swindled by the Devil.
When he finally reaches home, his neighbors and relatives don't recognize him, and he is even rejected by his own mother. The Soldier finds himself alone and totally deceived: he has been away not three days but three years! Then, he decides to get back to the Devil and recover his fiddle, but with no result. The Devil convinces him that the best he can do is use the magic book, because he has nothing else left. So, he becomes a rich landed man overnight.
After some time, he realizes all of this is useless. The Soldier wants to recover his old fiddle. However, now he is unable to play his instrument. This leads him again to despair, and he decides to abandon everything in order to get on the road once more and start from scratch.
His clothes get dirty again with dust from the roads. Then he finds a chance to give sense to his erratic wandering: saving a king's daughter from her lethargy. The king offers her hand to anyone able to heal her. When he makes up his mind to save the princess, the Devil crosses him one more time. The Soldier is still under the Devil's influence and can do nothing useful to save the princess. This time, the Narrator takes part in the action helping the Soldier free himself. He will have to play a card game with the Devil, betting him all the things he had obtained from the magic book, to recover his fiddle.
After beating the Devil, the Soldier succeeds in healing the princess but, when it seems everything will be all right, the Soldier ventures too far along the road and again falls into the Devil's trap.
With this ending, it appears that the Devil always wins, but there is actually an open door left: it is the Soldier himself who is telling us the story, that is to say, it is possible to defeat the Devil definitively.