Short summary - Galgenmannlein
Friedrich Heinrich Karl de la Motte, Baron Fouqué
A young German merchant named Reichard comes to Italy. As he admires the beautiful women and houses from the gondola, he sees a magnificent building full of charming female heads. Reichard admires them aloud, and the gondolier says: “Come out and boldly climb up to them. You will not get bored there. " Reichard does not believe the gondolier, believing that they will only laugh at him, but in the end he goes to the building. There he is warmly greeted, and the prettiest of the girls takes him to her chambers and there treats him with such wonderful dishes, drinks and kisses that in the end he feels himself at the top of bliss. However, when the happy Reichard was about to leave, the girl demanded payment for the services of the best courtesan. A little upset, he goes to the wine cellar to escape from his sad thoughts.
Every day Reichard spends fun with his drinking companions, only one of them was sad and silent - an army captain, a Spaniard. Reichard's money became less and less, he began to think that soon he would have to end such an existence. One day, a Spaniard took Reichard to a deserted quarter of the city and said that he could offer a means to raise any amount of money at any time and live for his own pleasure for little money. Reichard does not understand him well, then the Spaniard explains: “I don’t know if you have heard of tiny creatures called hellish inhabitants. These are black devils, enclosed in glass cones. Anyone who owns such a devil can, with his help, receive all the pleasures of life and, first of all, money in any amount. For this, the hellish inhabitant brings the soul of his master to the prince of darkness, Lucifer, however, only if the owner dies, without having time to transfer the cone to other hands. And you can transfer it only by selling it, and for a price lower than you paid for it yourself. My devil was worth ten ducats. So if you give me nine for it, it will be yours. " It was a real temptation for Reichard, “meanwhile, tempting pictures of the cheerful life that would become available to him, if he acquired a hellish inhabitant, flashed through Reichard's head. In the end, he decided to shell out half of the remaining money for him, but before that he tried to bargain in order to gain at least a few ducats. " The Spaniard replied that he was demanding such a high price so that Reichard could also sell this box later, but he said: “Let it be for you! - Reichard exclaimed affably. “I’m unlikely to soon want to sell this amazing thing. In short, won't you give it to me for five ducats? " By this, Reichard greatly shortened the life of the devil and thus brought the death of someone's soul closer.
Reichard got money, he bought himself a castle, spent time with courtesans, one of whom, once seeing a cone with a devil, was horrified and threw it into the river, but the cone returned to the owner's pocket.
Reichard enjoyed the material benefits of life as best he could, he looked down on even the most noble people. But suddenly Reichard becomes seriously ill, retribution begins “mortal illness fettered all his limbs, despite the fact that the devil was still with him. During the first day of his illness, Reichard asked him about ten times for help, but in vain, healing did not come. "
And he had a dream where a jack sings: "Oh, dear Reichardt, you hear / not pass to thee, / Fire coals, pans, / For the dead do not have the water of life, / You are my forever ..!"
It seemed to him, that the devil got out of the room and it was a terrible black creature, the rest of the night Reichard could not sleep, he thought: "God, since this night has no end, how long will be the eternal night of hell!" And Reichard decided that if the Lord, in his goodness, would let him live until morning, he would by all means get rid of the hellish inhabitant.
Waking up in the morning, he decided to ask for one last bag of ducats and began to think about who to sell the devil to. By deception, he sells the devil to his doctor for three ducats, but due to illness, Reichard becomes even worse. All his castles and villas are taken away, because he signed a paper on donating them to Lucretia, and then a doctor comes, who says that he found a medicine for Reichard for two ducats. Reichard buys it with pleasure, and it turns out to be a cone with a devil. Deciding to take revenge on Lucretia, he sells the cone to her for a ducat and again remains almost without money.
Realizing that he will soon spend his last savings, Reichard decides to become a peddler. To do this, it was necessary to purchase a box with some goods for sale, on which he spent the remaining coins. Reichard had already begun to make plans for the future when curious guests noticed a cone with a "strange animal" among his goods. Reichard tries to sell the cone, but in vain, everyone is only frightened by the black freak in it. He goes to Lucretia, reveals to her the secret of a hellish inhabitant, but the girl takes Reichard for a madman and threatens that he will be burned as a black magician. He demands more money from the devil and goes to Italy.
Trying to sell the cone for a pittance, Reichard was known as insane. He goes to war, but realizes that there he will be much closer to death and to becoming the prey of Satan. And then he sells the cone to one of the soldiers. Having freed himself from her, Reichard really wanted to serve ...
Several times the cone with the devil returned to Reichard, but once he met a man who offered to buy a cone from him for half a geller, for this it was necessary to set the monster on the prince, and, after saving his life , demand two half-heller coins. Reichard did so, came to this man and he revealed to him that he had long sold his soul to the devil and he needed a cone to take revenge, because he would get his soul anyway, and the devil, after a long service, would return back to the underworld empty-handed.
Having finally freed himself from the cone, Reichard “felt in his heart that he had atoned for his past grave sins and that the hellish inhabitant could no longer belong to him. In a fit of joy, he threw himself face down in the tall grass, gently touched the flowers with his fingers and sent air kisses to the sun. His heart revived and again, as before, was beating merrily in his chest, but this time without daring frivolity and blasphemous thoughts. Although he now had very good reason to be proud, since he had deceived the devil himself, he did not indulge in bragging. Moreover, he directed all his renewed strength to start living from now on in a different way - God-fearing, dignified and joyful. "