When little Hans dies of the croup, his mother uses all her scant wealth to ensure him a proper burial. She spins the thread for his shroud and has a beautiful little coffin made. But while she is out, the rats gnaw at little Hans's leather slippers and the dead child has nothing for his feet.
Hans' mother makes him a pair of shoes from her last loaf of bread. But after the child is buried, the ghostly child reappears night after night weeping. The bread shoes are preventing him from entering heaven. But the local priest comes up with a plan.