从前有个国王，他有三个儿子。 老大和老二聪明伶俐，小儿子却头脑简单，不爱说话，人们管他叫"缺心眼"。 国王年纪大了，身体虚弱，想到身后之事，觉得难以确定究竟由哪个儿子来继承王位。 他把三个儿子找来对他们说："你们谁带回来的地毯最漂亮，谁就能继承王位。"他认为这样他们就没什么可争辩的了。 他将儿子们领到外面，对着三片羽毛吹了一口气，说："你们分头跟着羽毛所指的方向去找吧。"三片羽毛一片朝东，一片朝西，第三片直着朝上飞了一阵就落在地上了。 两个哥哥对"缺心眼"弟弟嘲笑了一番，因为他只能留在本地，然后他们一东一西去寻找最美丽的地毯去了。 小王子十分难过地坐到地上，猛然发现羽毛边有扇地板门。 他掀开盖板，看到有几级楼梯，就沿着梯级往下走。 不久又是一道门，他伸手敲了敲，听到有人在里面说：
小蟾蜍于是搬来一口大箱子，大蟾蜍打开盖，从里面拿出一块地毯给"缺心眼"。 那地毯质地优良，图案和色彩也十分漂亮，世界上简直没谁能织得出。 小王子谢过大蟾蜍之后，带上地毯出来了。 再说两个哥哥认为弟弟傻，相信他找不到什么好地毯，也就不想费周折用心找了。 他们都是从最先遇到的牧羊人的妻子那里买了些织得很粗糙的羊毛手帕带了回来。 这时，"缺心眼"也回来了，他将那块美丽无比的地毯交给了父亲，国王一看惊讶地说："公正地说，王位该归小王子。"
可是另外两兄弟吵吵嚷嚷说不能让"缺心眼"当国王，因为他干什么都考虑不周全。 他们吵得国王不得安宁，非要再比试比试不可。 国王于是说："谁带给我的戒指最漂亮，谁就继承王位。"说着又将三个儿子带到外面，朝空气中吹了三片羽毛，让他们跟着羽毛所指的方向去寻找。 大王子和二王子又是一东一西，而"缺心眼"的羽毛又是朝上升起之后落到原地。 哥哥们讥笑他，说他找不到金戒指，自己却取出旧的金戒指拿到金店去重新打制。 小王子像上次一样爬了下去，向大蟾蜍要世界上最漂亮的戒指。 大蟾蜍吩咐搬来大箱子，从里面取出一个闪闪发光的宝石戒指，其工艺之精湛，是地上任何工匠都做不出来的。 当小王子将金戒指拿给国王时，做父亲的又说："王位属于小王子。"可两个哥哥仍不甘心，他们不断给父亲施加压力，非让他答应再比试一次。 还说看谁带回家的姑娘最漂亮谁就继位。 国王还是朝天上吹了三片羽毛，它们所指的方向和以前一样。
"缺心眼"立刻下去找大蟾蜍，说："我要把世界上最美丽的姑娘带回家！""哦？最漂亮的姑娘！"大蟾蜍说，"她这会儿不在家。不过你还是可以带她回家的。"说着就将一个套着六只小老鼠的空心萝卜交给他。 "缺心眼"小王子无可奈何地说："我拿这些有什么用呢？"大蟾蜍说："抓只小蟾蜍放进去就行了。"他随手抓了一只放了进去，那小蟾蜍还没坐下，就立刻变成了一位美丽端庄的姑娘，萝卜变成了真正的马车，六只小老鼠变成了六匹骏马。 "缺心眼"吻了吻姑娘，立刻赶着马车回来见父亲。 他的两个哥哥随后也回来了，他们不愿意多费力气寻找美丽的姑娘，而是把最先遇到的农家姑娘带了回来。 国王一看就说："我死后王位由小王子继承。"两个哥哥又吵又闹，说："我们不同意'缺心眼'当国王！"直吵得国王耳朵都要聋了。 他们要求在大厅中央挂一个圆圈，谁的妻子能跳着钻过去，谁就能继承王位。 他们暗想："农家姑娘结实强壮，跳过那圈子不会有问题，而那漂亮姑娘准会摔死。"国王没法，只好同意了。 首先是两个村姑跳，她们跳过去了，但是笨拙得摔折了粗手大脚；轮到小王子的美貌姑娘，只见她轻轻一跃就过去了，轻盈得像只小鹿。 这一下谁都无话可说了。 小王子继承了王位，成了一位英明的国王。
There was once on a time a King who had three sons, of whom two were clever and wise, but the third did not speak much, and was simple, and was called the Simpleton. When the King had become old and weak, and was thinking of his end, he did not know which of his sons should inherit the kingdom after him. Then he said to them: "Go forth, and he who brings me the most beautiful carpet shall be King after my death." And that there should be no dispute amongst them, he took them outside his castle, blew three feathers in the air, and said: "You shall go as they fly." One feather flew to the east, the other to the west, but the third flew straight up and did not fly far, but soon fell to the ground. And now one brother went to the right, and the other to the left, and they mocked Simpleton, who was forced to stay where the third feather had fallen.
He sat down and was sad, then all at once he saw that there was a trap-door close by the feather. He raised it up, found some steps, and went down them, and then he came to another door, knocked at it, and heard somebody inside calling:
"Little green maiden small,
Hopping hither and thither;
Hop to the door,
And quickly see who is there."
The door opened, and he saw a great, fat toad sitting, and round about her a crowd of little toads. The fat toad asked what he wanted? He answered: "I should like to have the prettiest and finest carpet in the world." Then she called a young one and said:
"Little green maiden small,
Hopping hither and thither,
Hop quickly and bring me
The great box here."
The young toad brought the box, and the fat toad opened it, and gave Simpleton a carpet out of it, so beautiful and so fine, that on the earth above, none could have been woven like it. Then he thanked her, and ascended again.
The two others had, however, looked on their youngest brother as so stupid that they believed he would find and bring nothing at all. "Why should we give ourselves a great deal of trouble to search?" said they, and got some coarse handkerchiefs from the first shepherds' wives whom they met, and carried them home to the King. At the same time Simpleton also came back, and brought his beautiful carpet, and when the King saw it he was astonished, and said: "If justice be done, the kingdom belongs to the youngest." But the two others let their father have no peace, and said that it was impossible that Simpleton, who in everything lacked understanding, should be King, and entreated him to make a new agreement with them. Then the father said: "He who brings me the most beautiful ring shall inherit the kingdom," and led the three brothers out, and blew into the air three feathers, which they were to follow. Those of the two eldest again went east and west, and Simpleton's feather flew straight up, and fell down near the door into the earth. Then he went down again to the fat toad, and told her that he wanted the most beautiful ring. She at once ordered her great box to be brought, and gave him a ring out of it, which sparkled with jewels, and was so beautiful that no goldsmith on earth would have been able to make it. The two eldest laughed at Simpleton for going to seek a golden ring. They gave themselves no trouble, but knocked the nails out of an old carriage-ring, and took it to the King; but when Simpleton produced his golden ring, his father again said, "The kingdom belongs to him." The two eldest did not cease from tormenting the King until he made a third condition, and declared that the one who brought the most beautiful woman home, should have the kingdom. He again blew the three feathers into the air, and they flew as before.
Then Simpleton without more ado went down to the fat toad, and said: "I am to take home the most beautiful woman!" - "Oh," answered the toad, "the most beautiful woman! She is not at hand at the moment, but still thou shalt have her." She gave him a yellow turnip which had been hollowed out, to which six mice were harnessed. Then Simpleton said quite mournfully: "What am I to do with that?" The toad answered: "Just put one of my little toads into it." Then he seized one at random out of the circle, and put her into the yellow coach, but hardly was she seated inside it than she turned into a wonderfully beautiful maiden, and the turnip into a coach, and the six mice into horses. So he kissed her, and drove off quickly with the horses, and took her to the King. His brothers came afterwards; they had given themselves no trouble at all to seek beautiful girls, but had brought with them the first peasant women they chanced to meet. When the King saw them he said: "After my death the kingdom belongs to my youngest son." But the two eldest deafened the King's ears afresh with their clamour, "We cannot consent to Simpleton's being King," and demanded that the one whose wife could leap through a ring which hung in the centre of the hall should have the preference. They thought: "The peasant women can do that easily; they are strong enough, but the delicate maiden will jump herself to death." The aged King agreed likewise to this. Then the two peasant women jumped, and jumped through the ring, but were so stout that they fell, and their coarse arms and legs broke in two. And then the pretty maiden whom Simpleton had brought with him, sprang, and sprang through as lightly as a deer, and all opposition had to cease. So he received the crown, and has ruled wisely for a length of time.