It's 1552 in Scotland. The best bagpiper in the country, Steenie Stevenson, is telling barmaid Tibbie about his predicament.
Twelve months ago when his rent was behind, he got a summons from Sir Robert, the lord of Primrose Knoll, demanding his money or he will have Steenie evicted. Sir Robert's elderly servant Malcolm O'Haggis tries to offer Steenie some comfort.
Steenie goes about trying to borrow the money, but he has to sell his beloved bagpipes to raise the funds.
Steenie brings Sir Robert the silver he owes him, but as Sir Robert is counting it, he falls over dead.
Weeks later, another summons arrives from the new lord of Primrose Knoll. Sir John wants the rent money. Steenie says he paid his father, but didn't get a receipt; but O'Haggis was a witness. Unfortunately, O'Haggis died two days earlier.
As Steenie relates the story to Tibbie, he gives a toast: if he'll tell me what happened to my bag of silver and let me get my bagpipes back, I'll drink to the health of the devil himself!
In a puff of smoke, the mysterious stranger appears. He tells Steenie that his master yearns to hear his music. The stranger will lend him the money, and take him to Sir Robert for his receipt. However, if Steenie fails to keep his ends of the bargain, his master will have his immortal soul.
Steenie awakens and sees O'Haggis, whom he heard was dead. O'Haggis advises him that he is in grave danger. He must take his receipt, and nothing else. No drink or food--and do NOT play the pipes.
Sir Robert is holding court, demanding that Steenie play for him. Steenie declines. Sir Robert informs him that exactly twelve months from now he will be required to forfeit his soul. Steenie takes his receipt and leaves.
He takes the receipt to Sir John, who verifies it's his father's signature; however, its dated just two days ago! Sir John says he must have gone to hell to get it. He marks the rent as paid and even gives Steenie his silver if he never mentions any of this again.
It's now a year later that Steenie is telling Tibbie this story. As the bells toll midnight, the stranger appears to take Steenie to his awaiting master. Steenie says he owes nothing since he's taken nothing that wasn't already his. It's then he begins to play the bagpipes, as he'd promised. The stranger and his henchmen recoil in horror and disappear; Steenie was playing the Lord's Hymn.