A greedy village priest searches the local market for cheap work and finds Balda, a laborer who does every chore around the house. For his services Balda demands nothing more than money for food and a stirke with three fingers to the priest's forehead. The priest Pop is excited to hire Balda, so he does no have to pay as much for so much work. Balda starts working around the house, the stable and the kitchen, and does a great job. When it comes time to pay Balda his wages the priest comes up with a plan to trick Balda. He attempts to find a chore that Balda is unable to complete. If Balda fails the priest would be entitled to Balda's wages.
The priest tells Balda of his secret pact with the Devil. The priest orders Balda to collect what the Devil owes the priest for the past three years of his services. Balda goes to the beach and starts irritating the Devil by swirling a rope on the surface of the water. The Devil appears from the abyss and listens to Balda's claims. The Devil summons up one his young demons to take care of this matter. The Devil is too busy himself to handle this claim and orders the smaller demon to trick Balda. The smart Balda seizes the opportunity and through a series of tricks beats the smaller demon and gets a pot of gold. The priest now has to pay Balda his wages. He receives three hard strikes to his forehead and dies. The cunning Balda marries the priest's wife "Popadya."
The story ends with a proverb, which is very popular in Russia: "Ne gonyalsya by ty Pop za desheviznou..." which literally means "You, Pop, should not run after cheap things". The modern American equivalent is probably: "If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is..."