In Italy comes a young merchant, whose name is Reichard, from Germany. He admires the houses and charming women, passing by on a gondola. In front of him is a beautiful building, from the windows of which look the charming heads of young women. Reichard aloud expresses his admiration for them, to which the gondolier suggests that he go up to the beauties and says that the merchant there does not get bored. The German does not believe his words, fearing to become an object of general ridicule, but soon nevertheless goes inside the building. Reichard is greeted by friendly girls, and the most beautiful of them leads him to his quarters. She treats the guest with delicious dishes and drinks, her kisses drive the merchant crazy, which makes Reichard feel very happy. The young man is about to
Every subsequent day, the merchant is having fun there with his drinking companions. Only one of his friends always looks sad and silent – the Spanish captain. The merchant’s money is already running out, and Reichard begins to think about ending such an existence. Somehow this Spaniard, taking the merchant to a deserted quarter, offers him some means by which Reichard could always have as much money as he wants, and live without worrying about anything. The merchant does not understand what he is talking about. The Spaniard tells Reichard about the tiny devils – hellish inhabitants, imprisoned in glass small flasks. This creature helps its owner to receive money always and in unlimited quantity. All life’s joys and pleasures become available to a person. The devil helps the master always, and only if the owner dies, not selling the flask to another, the creature gives his soul to Lucifer, the dark prince. But the flask can only be sold for less money than the amount paid when buying. The Spaniard bought the creature for an amount equal to ten ducats.
The merchant now always has money, the German buys a large castle, is spent on courtesans. Once one of these girls saw a flask with a devil and, horrified, threw it into the river, but the creature again appeared in the pocket of the owner.
The merchant enjoys all the blessings, and looks down on even the nobles. But suddenly he gets very sick, although the creature is under Reichard. At first the merchant begs for help from the devil, but it only gets worse. At night, he dreams a terrible dream, where the creature is selected from his bulb and threatens Reichard with the torments of hell. The merchant can no longer fall asleep and decides, finally, to get rid of the devil if he survives until a new day.
In the morning the merchant asks the creature for another bag of money and sells the devil to the doctor who heals him, for three ducats. Reichard was bad. The merchant signs a document on the donation of his property to Lucretia. A doctor who comes to Reichard sells him a good medicine, which he found specially for him, for two ducats. The merchant is happy to buy it and discovers that there is a bulb with his being. He avenges Lucretia, selling her a flask with a devil for one ducat. Reichard again has no money left.
The merchant understands that these pennies, which he has left, are also about to end. He buys a box of goods for sale, having spent on him the last coins, and becomes a peddler. Buyers among the merchant’s goods notice a strange little animal in the flask. Reichard offers everyone interested in the product to buy a flask, but the creature of all scares. The merchant goes to Lucretia, he reveals to her the mystery of the hell creature, but the girl does not believe him. She claims that Reichard is insane, and threatens him with the fire of the Inquisition, like a black magician. The merchant again takes money from the creature and goes to Italy.
Reyhard tries to sell the creature for pennies and becomes a madman. A young man goes to war. There, Reichard sells the flask to the soldier.
More than once the creature returns to the former merchant, while Reichard does not meet a man who asked to buy a flask from him for a half-galler. To do this, Reichard should set the prince a monster, and, after saving him, demand a pair of coins on a half-galler. The young man does this. When he comes to the last buyer of the creature, he reveals to Reichard that his soul has long been sold to the devil, and he wants to take revenge on the creature, because without having his soul, the devil will return to the underworld without anything.
Having freed himself from the flask, Reichard will feel with all his heart that the creature will no longer belong to him. He is so glad that he falls face down into the green grass, gently touching the flowers and sending the sun a series of kisses. He seemed to come to life, in his soul there is no frivolity and blasphemy. Reichard begins to live quite differently, and this life is really worthy, God-fearing and joyful.