As a small boy, Hans is sent by his poor parents to an old mill days from home, where he works for seven years as the miller's industrious apprentice. When Hans decides, having outgrown the bed, to return home with his pet raven Jako, despite a fancy for the miller's daughter Anna, his compounded rich pay is a lump of gold. When Hans gets tired of carrying the heavy lump, the ignoramus trades the onerous treasure for a willful horse. Realizing he's no rider, Hans trades the mount for a cow, and unable to milk it properly makes another trade, for a sheep, next trades again for a pig. The thieving tramp Caroline, who dresses as 'boy' Friedrich, tricks Hans out of the pig which she says is stolen, leaving him the goose she really stole, but he makes his last trade before the police turns up...