从前有个富有的农夫，他的金钱可车载斗量，他的田地遍布农庄。 可是他美满的生活中有一大缺憾，那就是他没有孩子。 他进城的时候，经常受到同行农夫的冷嘲热讽，他们问他为什么没有孩子。 最后他实在忍受不住，变得十分恼怒，回到家中便气愤地说："我得有个孩子，哪怕是个刺猬也成。"于是他的老婆生了个怪孩子，上半身是刺猬，下半身是男孩。 他老婆吓坏了，埋怨他说："你瞧你，这就是你带来的恶运。"农夫无奈地说："米已成粥，现在如何是好？这孩子得接受洗礼，可谁能当他的教父呢？"老婆叹道："给他取什么名子呢？
接受洗礼后，牧师说："他浑身是刺，不能睡在普通的床上。"于是在炉子后边铺了些干草，刺猬汉斯就睡在上面。 他的母亲无法给他喂奶，因为他的刺会扎伤母亲。 他就这样在炉子后面躺了八年，父亲对他烦透了，暗中思忖："他真不如死了好！"可是他躺在那里，活得很顽强。 城里要举行集市，农夫在去赶集前，问老婆要带些什么回来。 "家里缺些肉和几个白面包。"她说。 然后又问女仆，女仆要一双拖鞋和几双绣花的长袜子。 最后他还问刺猬，"你想要什么，我的刺猬汉斯？""亲爱的父亲，"他说，"我想要风笛。"当父亲回到家中时，他带回来老婆要的肉和白面包、女仆要的拖鞋和绣花长袜子，然后走到炉子后面，把风笛交给了刺猬汉斯。 刺猬汉斯接过风笛，又说："亲爱的父亲，请去铁匠铺给大公鸡钉上掌子，我要骑着大公鸡出门，不再回来啦。"听到这话，父亲不禁暗暗高兴，心想这下我可摆脱他啦。 他立刻去给公鸡钉了掌子，然后，刺猬汉斯骑上公鸡上路了，并且随身带走了几只猪和驴，他准备在森林里喂养它们。 他们走进森林，大公鸡带着他飞上了一棵大树。 此后他就在树上呆了许多许多年，一边照看着他的驴和猪，直到把它们喂养大，他的父亲丝毫不知他的消息。 这么多年他还在树上吹着他的风笛，演奏着非常美妙的乐曲。 一次，一个迷了路的国王从附近路过，听见了美妙的音乐，感到吃惊，立刻派他的侍从前去查找笛声是从何处传来的。 他四周寻找，只发现在高高的树上有一只小动物，看上去像一只骑着公鸡的刺猬在演奏。 于是国王命令侍从上前询问他为何坐在那里，知道不知道通往他的王国的道路。 刺猬汉斯从树上下来，对国王说如果他肯写一份保证，上面说一旦他到了家，将他在王宫院中遇到的第一件东西赐予他，他就给国王指明道路。 国王心想："这事容易，刺猬汉斯大字不识，反正我写什么他都不知道。"于是国王取来笔墨，写了一份保证，写完后，刺猬汉斯给他指了路，国王平平安安地回到了家。 他的女儿老远就看见了，喜出望外地奔过来迎接他，还高兴地吻了他。 这时他想起了刺猬汉斯，并告诉了她事情的经过，他是如何被迫答应将他回家后遇见的第一件东西赏给一只非常奇怪的动物，它像骑马似地骑着一只大公鸡，还演奏着美妙的乐曲。 不过他并没有按照它的意思写，他写的是它不应得到它想得到的东西。 公主听后很高兴，夸她父亲做的好，因为她从未想过要和刺猬一起生活。
一天，又有一个国王带着随从和使者路过这里，他们也迷了路，森林又大又密，他们迷失了回家的方向。 他也听见了从不远的地方传来的乐曲，便问使者那是什么，命令他过去看看。 使者走到树下，看见树顶上有只公鸡，刺猬汉斯骑在公鸡的背上。 使者问他在上面干什么，"我在放我的驴和我的猪，您想做什么？"使者说他们迷路了，无法回到自己的王国，问他能不能为他们指路。 刺猬汉斯和公鸡从树上下来，对年迈的国王说如果国王愿意将他在王宫前面遇到的第一件东西赐给他，他就会告诉他路怎么走。 国王回答得干脆："好啊，"并写下保证书交给刺猬汉斯。 然后汉斯骑着大公鸡走在前面，给他们指出了路，国王平平安安地回到自己的王国。 当他到了王宫前的庭院时，只见那儿一片欢腾。 国王有一个非常美丽的独生女儿，她跑上前来迎接他，一下子搂住了他的脖子，老父亲的归来让她十分欣慰。 她问他究竟上哪儿去了这么长的时间。 他说了他是如何迷了路，几乎回不来了，可是当他穿过一座大森林的时候，一只在高高的树上骑着公鸡吹风笛的半刺猬半人的怪物给他指出了方向，并帮助他走出了森林，可是他答应作为回报，将他在宫院里遇到的第一件东西赐予他，现在他首先遇到的是她，为此国王感到很难受。 没想到公主却语出惊人，说：为了她所热爱的父亲，她愿意在汉斯来的时候跟他同去。
刺猬汉斯仍旧悉心照料着他的猪群，猪群变得越来越大，以至整座森林已经给挤满了。 于是刺猬汉斯决定不再住在林子里面了，他给父亲捎去口信，说把村里的所有猪圈都腾空，他将赶一大群牲畜回去，把所有会杀猪的人都招来。 他父亲知道此事后感到很难堪，因为他一直以为刺猬汉斯早就死了呢。 刺猬汉斯舒舒服服地坐在公鸡背上，赶着一群猪进了村庄。 他一声令下，屠宰开始啦。 只见刀起斧落，血肉一片，杀猪的声音方圆数里可闻！ 此事完毕后刺猬汉斯说："父亲，请再去铁匠铺给公鸡钉一回掌吧，这回我走后一辈子也不回来啦。"父亲又一次给公鸡上了掌，他感到一阵轻松，因为刺猬汉斯永远不回来了。
刺猬汉斯骑着公鸡到了第一个王国。 那里的国王下令，只要看到骑着公鸡手持风笛的人，大家要一起举起弓箭，拿起刀枪，把他阻挡在王宫外面。 所以当刺猬汉斯到了城门前的时候，他们全都举起枪矛向他冲来。 只见他用鞋刺磕了一下公鸡，那公鸡就飞了起来，越过城门，落在了国王的窗前。 汉斯高声叫着国王必须兑现诺言，把属于他的给他，否则他将要国王和他女儿的性命。 国王此时很害怕，他央求女儿跟汉斯走，只有这样才能挽救她自己和她父亲的生命。 于是她全身穿上了白衣，带着父亲送给她的一辆六匹马拉的马车和一群漂亮的侍女，以及金子和财宝，坐进马车，把汉斯和公鸡还有风笛安置在她身旁，然后一齐起程离去了。 国王以为他再也见不着女儿了，可是他万万没想到，他们出城不远，刺猬汉斯便把她漂亮的衣服剥了下来，随后用自己身上的刺把她刺得全身鲜血淋漓。 "这就是对你们虚伪狡诈的回报，"他说，"你走吧，我不会要你的。"说完他把她赶了回去，从此以后她一生都让人瞧不起。
没料到国王的女儿看见他，却被他的怪模样吓了一跳。 这时她告诫自己不得改变主意，因为她曾向父亲许过诺言。 所以她出来迎接刺猬汉斯，并与他结为百年之好。 两人走到王宫的餐桌旁，并排坐下，享受着美酒佳肴。 傍晚来临，他们该上床休息了，可是她害怕他身上的刺，他安慰她不必害怕，说她不会受到任何伤害的。 同时他还要求老国王派四名士兵守在洞房的门边，点燃一堆火，等他走进洞房门准备上床前，他自己会从刺猬皮中爬出来，把刺猬皮扔在床边，他们要立即跑过去，拿起刺猬皮扔进火里，在它烧光之前不得离开。 钟敲响了十一点，他步入洞房，脱掉刺猬皮，扔在床边。 士兵飞快跑过来，拣起刺猬皮扔进火中。 等火把皮烧成了灰，他得救啦，变成了人的模样躺在床上，全身漆黑好像被火烧过一样。 国王派来御医，用昂贵的药膏给他全身擦洗、涂抹，不久，他的皮肤变白了，成了一个英俊的小伙子。 国王的女儿见他这样十分高兴，第二天早晨他们快快乐乐地起了床，一起吃喝完毕，在庄严的气氛中再次举行婚礼，刺猬汉斯继承了老国王的王位。
过了几年他带着妻子去见父亲，告诉父亲他是他的儿子。 可是他父亲一再表示他没有儿子，说曾经有过一个，生下来就像一只带刺的刺猬，早就离开了，不知哪儿去啦。 汉斯证明了自己是谁，老父亲很高兴，跟着他一起去了他的王国。
There was once a countryman who had money and land in plenty, but how rich soever he was, one thing was still wanting in his happiness he had no children. Often when he went into the town with the other peasants they mocked him and asked why he had no children. At last he became angry, and when he got home he said, "I will have a child, even if it be a hedgehog." Then his wife had a child, that was a hedgehog in the upper part of his body, and a boy in the lower, and when she saw the child, she was terrified, and said, "See, there thou hast brought ill-luck on us." Then said the man, "What can be done now? The boy must be christened, but we shall not be able to get a godfather for him." The woman said, "And we cannot call him anything else but Hans-my-Hedgehog." When he was christened, the parson said, "He cannot go into any ordinary bed because of his spikes." So a little straw was put behind the stove, and Hans-my-Hedgehog was laid on it. His mother could not suckle him, for he would have pricked her with his quills. So he lay there behind the stove for eight years, and his father was tired of him and thought, "If he would but die!" He did not die, however, but remained lying there. Now it happened that there was a fair in the town, and the peasant was about to go to it, and asked his wife what he should bring back with him for her. "A little meat and a couple of white rolls which are wanted for the house," said she. Then he asked the servant, and she wanted a pair of slippers and some stockings with clocks. At last he said also, "And what wilt thou have, Hans my Hedgehog?" - "Dear father," he said, "do bring me bagpipes." When, therefore, the father came home again, he gave his wife what he had bought for her; meat and white rolls, and then he gave the maid the slippers, and the stockings with clocks; and, lastly, he went behind the stove, and gave Hans-my-Hedgehog the bagpipes. And when Hans-my-Hedgehog had the bagpipes, he said, "Dear father, do go to the forge and get the cock shod, and then I will ride away, and never come back again." On this, the father was delighted to think that he was going to get rid of him, and had the cock shod for him, and when it was done, Hans-my-Hedgehog got on it, and rode away, but took swine and asses with him which he intended to keep in the forest. When they got there he made the cock fly on to a high tree with him, and there he sat for many a long year, and watched his asses and swine until the herd was quite large, and his father knew nothing about him. While he was sitting in the tree, however, he played his bagpipes, and made music which was very beautiful. Once a King came travelling by who had lost his way and heard the music. He was astonished at it, and sent his servant forth to look all round and see from whence this music came. He spied about, but saw nothing but a little animal sitting up aloft on the tree, which looked like a cock with a hedgehog on it which made this music. Then the King told the servant he was to ask why he sat there, and if he knew the road which led to his kingdom. So Hans-my-Hedgehog descended from the tree, and said he would show the way if the King would write a bond and promise him whatever he first met in the royal courtyard as soon as he arrived at home. Then the King thought, "I can easily do that, Hans-my-Hedgehog understands nothing, and I can write what I like." So the King took pen and ink and wrote something, and when he had done it, Hans-my-Hedgehog showed him the way, and he got safely home. But his daughter, when she saw him from afar, was so overjoyed that she ran to meet him, and kissed him. Then he remembered Hans-my-Hedgehog, and told her what had happened, and that he had been forced to promise whatsoever first met him when he got home, to a very strange animal which sat on a cock as if it were a horse, and made beautiful music, but that instead of writing that he should have what he wanted, he had written that he should not have it. Thereupon the princess was glad, and said he had done well, for she never would have gone away with the Hedgehog.
Hans-my-Hedgehog, however, looked after his asses and pigs, and was always merry and sat on the tree and played his bagpipes. Now it came to pass that another King came journeying by with his attendants and runners, and he also had lost his way, and did not know how to get home again because the forest was so large. He likewise heard the beautiful music from a distance, and asked his runner what that could be, and told him to go and see. Then the runner went under the tree, and saw the cock sitting at the top of it, and Hans-my-Hedgehog on the cock. The runner asked him what he was about up there? "I am keeping my asses and my pigs; but what is your desire?" The messenger said that they had lost their way, and could not get back into their own kingdom, and asked if he would not show them the way. Then Hans-my-Hedgehog got down the tree with the cock, and told the aged King that he would show him the way, if he would give him for his own whatsoever first met him in front of his royal palace. The King said, "Yes," and wrote a promise to Hans-my-Hedgehog that he should have this. That done, Hans rode on before him on the cock, and pointed out the way, and the King reached his kingdom again in safety. When he got to the courtyard, there were great rejoicings. Now he had an only daughter who was very beautiful; she ran to meet him, threw her arms round his neck, and was delighted to have her old father back again. She asked him where in the world he had been so long. So he told her how he had lost his way, and had very nearly not come back at all, but that as he was travelling through a great forest, a creature, half hedgehog, half man, who was sitting astride a cock in a high tree, and making music, had shown him the way and helped him to get out, but that in return he had promised him whatsoever first met him in the royal court-yard, and how that was she herself, which made him unhappy now. But on this she promised that, for love of her father, she would willingly go with this Hans if he came.
Hans-my-Hedgehog, however, took care of his pigs, and the pigs multiplied until they became so many in number that the whole forest was filled with them. Then Hans-my-Hedgehog resolved not to live in the forest any longer, and sent word to his father to have every stye in the village emptied, for he was coming with such a great herd that all might kill who wished to do so. When his father heard that, he was troubled, for he thought Hans-my-Hedgehog had died long ago. Hans-my-Hedgehog, however, seated himself on the cock, and drove the pigs before him into the village, and ordered the slaughter to begin. Ha! but there was a killing and a chopping that might have been heard two miles off! After this Hans-my-Hedgehog said, "Father, let me have the cock shod once more at the forge, and then I will ride away and never come back as long as I live." Then the father had the cock shod once more, and was pleased that Hans-my-Hedgehog would never return again.
Hans-my-Hedgehog rode away to the first kingdom. There the King had commanded that whosoever came mounted on a cock and had bagpipes with him should be shot at, cut down, or stabbed by everyone, so that he might not enter the palace. When, therefore, Hans-my-Hedgehog came riding thither, they all pressed forward against him with their pikes, but he spurred the cock and it flew up over the gate in front of the King's window and lighted there, and Hans cried that the King must give him what he had promised, or he would take both his life and his daughter's. Then the King began to speak his daughter fair, and to beg her to go away with Hans in order to save her own life and her father's. So she dressed herself in white, and her father gave her a carriage with six horses and magnificent attendants together with gold and possessions. She seated herself in the carriage, and placed Hans-my-Hedgehog beside her with the cock and the bagpipes, and then they took leave and drove away, and the King thought he should never see her again. He was however, deceived in his expectation, for when they were at a short distance from the town, Hans-my-Hedgehog took her pretty clothes off, and pierced her with his hedgehog's skin until she bled all over. "That is the reward of your falseness," said he. "go your way, I will not have you!" and on that he chased her home again, and she was disgraced for the rest of her life.
Hans-my-Hedgehog, however, rode on further on the cock, with his bagpipes, to the dominions of the second King to whom he had shown the way. This one, however, had arranged that if any one resembling Hans-my-Hedgehog should come, they were to present arms, give him safe conduct, cry long life to him, and lead him to the royal palace. But when the King's daughter saw him she was terrified, for he looked quite too strange. She remembered however, that she could not change her mind, for she had given her promise to her father. So Hans-my-Hedgehog was welcomed by her, and married to her, and had to go with her to the royal table, and she seated herself by his side, and they ate and drank. When the evening came and they wanted to go to sleep, she was afraid of his quills, but he told her she was not to fear, for no harm would befall her, and he told the old King that he was to appoint four men to watch by the door of the chamber, and light a great fire, and when he entered the room and was about to get into bed, he would creep out of his hedgehog's skin and leave it lying there by the bedside, and that the men were to run nimbly to it, throw it in the fire, and stay by it until it was consumed. When the clock struck eleven, he went into the chamber, stripped off the hedgehog's skin, and left it lying by the bed. Then came the men and fetched it swiftly, and threw it in the fire; and when the fire had consumed it, he was delivered, and lay there in bed in human form, but he was coal-black as if he had been burnt. The King sent for his physician who washed him with precious salves, and anointed him, and he became white, and was a handsome young man. When the King's daughter saw that she was glad, and the next morning they arose joyfully, ate and drank, and then the marriage was properly solemnized, and Hans-my-Hedgehog received the kingdom from the aged King.
When several years had passed he went with his wife to his father, and said that he was his son. The father, however, declared he had no son he had never had but one, and he had been born like a hedgehog with spikes, and had gone forth into the world. Then Hans made himself known, and the old father rejoiced and went with him to his kingdom.