从前，有个国王和王后，他们很富有，简直享有一切他们所希望的东西，只是没有孩子。 王后为此日夜伤感，说："我就像块不长庄稼的地。"上帝最后成全了他，给他了个孩子，但这孩子根本不像人，而是头小毛驴。 母亲不见则已见了叫苦连天，她说自己宁可不要孩子也不愿有头驴，并且还想把他扔进河里让鱼吃掉。 但国王却说："别这样，既然上帝把他赐给我们，他就该是我的儿子和继承人，在我死后戴上王冠坐上皇帝的宝座。"就这样，这驴子被养了下来，慢慢长大了，它的耳朵又细又长，向上直伸着。 这驴儿天性活泼，到处跳跃、游戏，且特别爱好音乐。 于是他走到一位有名的乐师那里，说"把你的本领教给我吧，我要把琴弹得和你一样好。""啊，小少爷，"乐师说，"这对你来说就难了，你的手指实在太粗，不是块弹琴的料。我怕琴弦经不起。"但他的推脱没用，驴儿要弹琴，非学弹琴不可。 他学起来又勤快、又刻苦，最后练得竟和师傅一样好了。
有一次，这小主人出去散步，脑子正在思考着什么，不觉来到了一口井边。 他往水中一瞧，见水面清澈如镜，那儿有自己的驴子模样。 他懊丧极了，便带了忠实的仆人离家出走，到了很远的地方。 他们四处漂泊，最后来到了一个王国，统治这个国家的是位年迈的国王，不过他有一位美丽绝伦的独身女。 驴儿说："我们就在这儿呆下吧！"说着就去敲城门，"外边有客，快开门让他进来！"有人说但是大门没有打开。 他于是坐了下来，取出他的琴，伸出两只前腿弹起琴来，音乐非常优美动听。 守城门的人听得睁大了眼，赶忙跑去报告国王："门外坐着头驴子，琴儿弹得有大师那么棒。""让那位音乐家到我这儿来吧！"国王说。 当那驴儿一进来，所有的人都称赞起这位弹琴的来，他们让他坐下来和仆人一块儿吃饭，他却很不乐意，说："我可不是头普通的驴子，我可是位贵族。"他们说："如果你真是位贵族，就和武士们坐一起吧。""不，我要坐在国王身旁。"国王微微一笑，很幽默地说："好吧，就照你的意思办。小毛驴，到我这儿来吧。"然后他又问："小毛驴，你觉得我女儿怎么样？"驴儿转过头看着她，点了点头，说"实在太美了！我还没见过像她这样漂亮的女孩。""那么，好吧，你也该挨着她坐吧！"国王说。 "那我是求之不得的呢！"驴儿一边说，一边紧挨着公主坐下。 他又吃又喝，既举止优雅，又注意清洁卫生。
这高贵的驴儿在宫里住了一些时，他想："这一切对我有何用呢？我得回家去。"于是他便难过地垂下了头，来到国王跟前，请求能让他走。 但国王已经喜欢上他了，便说："小毛驴，你什么事儿不开心？你看起来就像一缸醋一样酸溜溜的。你要什么我就给你什么，你要金子吗？""不，"驴儿摇头说。 "你要珠宝和华贵的服装吗？""不。""我分给你半个王国，好吗？""啊呀，不。"于是，国王说："什么能教你开心，你是不是想娶我的宝贝女儿做妻子？""啊，是的是的。"他一下子变得高兴起来，那确实是他所希望的。 于是他们举行了隆重而豪华的婚礼。 新婚之夜，新郎和新娘被带进了洞房，国王想知道驴儿是不是举止温文尔雅，便命一个仆人躲在那里。 他们双双走进了新房，新郎闩上了门，他以为只有他们俩在那里，只见他摔脱了身上的皮，站在那儿，竟是个英俊潇洒的青年。 "现在你瞧我是谁，看我配不配得上你。"这时新娘非常高兴，过来吻他，打心眼里爱着他。 到了早上，他跳了起来，又重新披上驴皮，没有人会想得到里面藏着个多么英俊的帅小伙子。 不久老国王来了，"啊，"他叫道，"驴儿已经起床了！女儿呀，你一定很伤心，没能嫁一个能真正作你丈夫的人。""哦，不，亲爱的父亲，我很爱他，他就像是世上最英俊潇洒的小伙子，我会终生和他厮守在一起的。"国王感到很惊讶。 但是先前藏在新房的仆人来了，向国王透露了一切。 国王说："这绝不可能是真的！""那么今晚就请您亲自去看看，你会亲眼看见的。国王，你听我说，你去把他的皮拿走，把它扔进火里烧掉，到时他就会显露真形的。"国王说："你这主意很不错。"到了晚上他们睡觉时，他偷偷地走了进去，来到床前，借助月光他看见了一个相貌堂堂的年轻人躺在床上，那件驴皮就放在地上。 于是他把驴皮拿走了，让人在外面生起火，然后把驴皮扔了进去，等着看到它化为了灰烬。 国王急于想看看这位丢了东西的新郎会怎样，便彻夜没睡，一直关注着。 年轻人睡醒后，就着晨光一翻而起，想穿上那张驴皮，但没找着。 这下他变得很惊恐焦虑，又非常伤心，说："现在我非逃走不可了。"，但他刚走出来，但便发现国王正站在那儿。 国王说："我的儿，你这么匆匆忙忙上哪去？你心里有啥事？留在这里吧，你是个这样潇洒的小伙子，你是不会离开我的。我现在就把我的一半王国给你，等我死后，整个王国都归你。""我也希望善始善终，那我就留在这儿吧！"随后老国王给了他一半的国土，一年后国王死了，整个王国都属于了他。 他自己的父亲死后，他又得到了另一个王国，从此便过着荣华富贵的生活。
Once on a time there lived a King and a Queen, who were rich, and had everything they wanted, but no children. The Queen lamented over this day and night, and said, "I am like a field on which nothing grows." At last God gave her her wish, but when the child came into the world, it did not look like a human child, but was a little donkey. When the mother saw that, her lamentations and outcries began in real earnest; she said she would far rather have had no child at all than have a donkey, and that they were to throw it into the water that the fishes might devour it. But the King said, "No, since God has sent him he shall be my son and heir, and after my death sit on the royal throne, and wear the kingly crown." The donkey, therefore, was brought up and grew bigger, and his ears grew up beautifully high and straight. He was, however, of a merry disposition, jumped about, played and had especial pleasure in music, so that he went to a celebrated musician and said, "Teach me thine art, that I may play the lute as well as thou dost." - "Ah, dear little master," answered the musician, "that would come very hard to you, your fingers are certainly not suited to it, and are far too big. I am afraid the strings would not last." No excuses were of any use. The donkey was determined to play the lute; he was persevering and industrious, and at last learnt to do it as well as the master himself. The young lordling once went out walking full of thought and came to a well, he looked into it and in the mirror-clear water saw his donkey's form. He was so distressed about it, that he went out into the wide world and only took with him one faithful companion. They travelled up and down, and at last they came into a kingdom where an old King reigned who had an only but wonderfully beautiful daughter. The donkey said, "Here we will stay," knocked at the gate, and cried, "A guest is without open, that he may enter." As, however, the gate was not opened, he sat down, took his lute and played it in the most delightful manner with his two fore-feet. Then the door-keeper opened his eyes most wonderfully wide, and ran to the King and said, "Outside by the gate sits a young donkey which plays the lute as well as an experienced master!" - "Then let the musician come to me," said the King. When, however, a donkey came in, every one began to laugh at the lute-player. And now the donkey was asked to sit down and eat with the servants. He, however, was unwilling, and said, "I am no common stable-ass, I am a noble one." Then they said, "If that is what thou art, seat thyself with the men of war." - "No," said he, "I will sit by the King." The King smiled, and said good-humouredly, "Yes, it shall be as thou wilt, little ass, come here to me." Then he asked, "Little ass, how does my daughter please thee?" The donkey turned his head towards her, looked at her, nodded and said, "I like her above measure, I have never yet seen anyone so beautiful as she is." - "Well, then, thou shalt sit next her too," said the King. "That is exactly what I wish," said the donkey, and he placed himself by her side, ate and drank, and knew how to behave himself daintily and cleanly. When the noble beast had stayed a long time at the King's court, he thought, "What good does all this do me, I shall still have to go home again?" let his head hang sadly, and went to the King and asked for his dismissal. But the King had grown fond of him, and said, "Little ass, what ails thee? Thou lookest as sour as a jug of vinegar, I will give thee what thou wantest. Dost thou want gold?" - "No," said the donkey, and shook his head. "Dost thou want jewels and rich dress?" - "No." - "Dost thou wish for half my kingdom?" - "Indeed, no." Then said the King, if I did but know what would make thee content. Wilt thou have my pretty daughter to wife?" - "Ah, yes," said the ass, "I should indeed like her," and all at once he became quite merry and full of happiness, for that was exactly what he was wishing for. So a great and splendid wedding was held. In the evening, when the bride and bridegroom were led into their bed-room, the King wanted to know if the ass would behave well, and ordered a servant to hide himself there. When they were both within, the bridegroom bolted the door, looked around, and as he believed that they were quite alone, he suddenly threw off his ass's skin, and stood there in the form of a handsome royal youth. "Now," said he, "thou seest who I am, and seest also that I am not unworthy of thee." Then the bride was glad, and kissed him, and loved him dearly. When morning came, he jumped up, put his animal's skin on again, and no one could have guessed what kind of a form was hidden beneath it. Soon came the old King, "Ah," cried he, "is the little ass merry? But surely thou art sad?" said he to his daughter, "that thou hast not got a proper man for thy husband?" - "Oh, no, dear father, I love him as well as if he were the handsomest in the world, and I will keep him as long as I live." The King was surprised, but the servant who had concealed himself came and revealed everything to him. The King said, "That cannot be true." - "Then watch yourself the next night, and you will see it with your own eyes; and hark you, lord King, if you were to take his skin away and throw it in the fire, he would be forced to show himself in his true shape." - "Thy advice is good," said the King, and at night when they were asleep, he stole in, and when he got to the bed he saw by the light of the moon a noble-looking youth lying there, and the skin lay stretched on the ground. So he took it away, and had a great fire lighted outside, and threw the skin into it, and remained by it himself until it was all burnt to ashes. As, however, he was anxious to know how the robbed man would behave himself, he stayed awake the whole night and watched. When the youth had slept his sleep out, he got up by the first light of morning, and wanted to put on the ass's skin, but it was not to be found. On this he was alarmed, and, full of grief and anxiety, said, "Now I shall have to contrive to escape." But when he went out, there stood the King, who said, "My son, whither away in such haste? what hast thou in mind? Stay here, thou art such a handsome man, thou shalt not go away from me. I will now give thee half my kingdom, and after my death thou shalt have the whole of it." - "Then I hope that what begins so well may end well, and I will stay with you," said the youth. And the old man gave him half the kingdom, and in a year's time, when he died, the youth had the whole, and after the death of his father he had another kingdom as well, and lived in all magnificence.