The Old Woodcutter cuts wood in the woods and always remembers grief and wickedness. His niece Nastya brings him dinner. The woodcutter rebukes the girl that she is waiting for her beloved, soldier Ivan Tarabanov, who is naked as a falcon, but rejects the rich miller.
The woodcutter continues to cut down the forest, remembering grief-evil, and his ax breaks. Before the Woodcutter appears a little old woman – Woe-Wickedness. It was all the time with his family, and from there all the misfortunes. I’m sick of the Woe-Wickedness with the Woodcutter’s family, to listen to his oh-sighs, he wants to wander around in the white light. To do this, someone has to sell something and say: “Take my good, but grief-misfortune in addition.”
The woodcutter is
The merchants are attacked by bandits. He cries, remembering Woe-Wickedness. Grief tells the merchant how he can get rid of it.
In the woods, King Dormidont comes to hunt with the army and with his future son-in-law Overseas Prince. They want to roast game, but they have nothing to kindle a fire. Appears Merchant and offers to buy from him flint and flint. Together with the merchandise, the Merchant imposes on the Tsar Gore-Zloschaste.
The daughter of King Anfisa asks her father to buy a casket for her, but there is no money in the treasury. The overseas prince refuses to marry a poor bride, Anfisa also leaves the ruined father and leaves for a rich aunt. Several states declare war against the tsar, but the army has nothing to pay, and it has fled. In the service there is only one soldier, Ivan Tarabanov. The king commemorates Grief-Evil. Grief responds and tells the king how to get rid of it.
The king offers a soldier to buy from him a ring, a saber, a crown, but the soldier refuses – he does not need it. The king treats a soldier with tobacco from his golden snuffbox. A soldier likes tobacco, and he agrees to buy a snuffbox from the tsar, but he has no money other than a nickle. To prevent him from being accused of theft, the soldier demands a receipt from the tsar. Together with the snuffbox, the king gives the soldier the Woe-Wickedness.
Woe is afraid of the difficulties of soldier’s life and asks the soldier to sell it to someone, but the soldier does not want to ruin people. Grief scares the soldier with various troubles, but the soldier does not fear them. Seeing tears in his eyes, Grief gloats, but the soldier says that he cries of tobacco. Grief asks him to sniff, gets into the snuffbox, and the soldier closes it there.
The soldier comes to Nastya, who now lives in a rich house. She says that since his uncle got rid of Gore-Evil, things have gone smoothly for him. But Grief now lives with a soldier in a snuffbox – his mother died, the house is destroyed, and Nastya is married against her will.
The guests gather in the house, the groom comes – the merchant. But Nastya, who has gone out to her guests, announces that her fiance is a soldier. Seeing the soldier’s expensive snuffbox, the guests accuse him of stealing. The soldier is tied up and taken to the palace by the tsar.
In the richly decorated palace sit the king, Anfisa, the Overseas Prince and courtiers. The Guardian admits the Merchant, the Woodcutter and the arrested Soldier. The soldier shows a receipt, and the tsar confirms that for the sake of laughter he sold the soldier a snuffbox for a nickle.
So that the Soldier did not tell anyone about the Woe-Evil, the king agrees to let him go, but orders the snuff-box to be left in the palace. The soldier demands back his nickle. The Tsar and the Merchant give on a penny, the Altyn Woodcutter, and the Soldier gives them all Gore-Zloschaste.
Grief takes the Merchant, the Woodcutter and the Tsar into the tartaras, and the Soldier and Nastya celebrate the wedding.