The story begins around Colonial Massachusetts with Tom Walker and his wife living together in a small home. They both compete with one another over food and money and are generally unhappy.
Tom takes a different path home one day and ends up in a swamp at an old Indian fort filled with skulls. He then meets "Old Scratch", who discusses a deal to exchange his soul for buried treasure.
Tom goes home to his wife to discuss the deal, who is immediately interested in the talk of gold. However, fearing she will take the money for herself, Tom does not tell her he will take the deal, causing her to go out for the deal herself.
Looking for his missing wife, Tom finds her heart, liver, and apron in a tree, concluding she fought and lost to the devil. However, he soon finds the devil and makes the deal as he starts working as his usurer.
Tom proceeds to work in Boston as an usurer, soon becoming very popular and wealthy. As he ages, he worries more about the result of this deal, making himself carry bibles and pray loudly. One day. a land-jobber pleads him for money, resulting in Tom to claim that the devil shall take him if he "have ever made a farthing."
Hearing his claim, the devil takes Tom away to the underworld, along with burning all his possessions to the ground.