从前，有个年轻的猎人去森林里打猎。 他一路兴致勃勃，心里十分快活，一边走一边用树叶吹着小曲子。 忽然他碰见一个模样丑陋的老婆子，那老婆子对他说："你好，亲爱的猎人！看起来你又快活又满足，可是我呢，却又饥又渴，给我一点施舍吧！"
好心的猎人很可怜这穷婆子，便伸手从口袋里拿了一些东西给她。 给完了就想往前走。 可是老婆子却叫住了他，说："听着，亲爱的猎人，为报答你的好心肠，我要送你一样礼物。你往前走，一会儿就会走到一棵大树跟前，树上蹲着九只鸟，它们的爪子里抓着件斗篷。你要举起猎枪朝它们中间射去。那件斗篷就会落到地上。有一只鸟会被击中也落到地上来。你快捡起斗篷，那是一件如意斗篷，你只要把它往身上一披，心里想到什么地方马上就会到什么地方。你还得掏出那死鸟的心来整个吞下，这样每天早上起床时，你便会在枕头底下发现一块金币。"
猎人谢过那年老女智者，心里暗想："她答应的东西真是好极了，可是这一切会不会是真的呢？"他抬脚往前，谁知还不到一百步，就听到树枝间一片叽叽喳喳的鸟叫声，急忙抬头一看，只见一群鸟果然用喙子、爪子拽住一块布在扯来扯去，它们你抢我夺，相互争吵，谁都想把布占为己有。 "哈，真稀奇！"猎人禁不住喊了出来，"真如那老婆婆讲的那样。"他马上取下猎枪，朝鸟群中间放了一枪，打得鸟儿们羽毛四处乱飞，全都吓跑了，一只被射中的从树上掉了下来，斗篷也随之掉了下来。 猎人按照老婆婆的嘱咐，剖开死鸟，掏出鸟心吞了下去，然后带着斗篷回到家里。
第二天清晨醒来，他想起老婆子的许诺，想看看一切是否也已兑现。 可不，他一翻起枕头，眼前就有块金子在闪闪发亮 ，第二天早上他又找到一块，以后每天起床来都是如此。 他积攒了一大堆金子，最后却想："要是我老呆在家里，我有这些金子又有什么用呢？我要出去，好好见见世面。"
于是，他告别父母，背上背囊，挎上猎枪，闯世界去了。 一天，他穿过一片茂密的森林，来到一片平原，见到面前矗立着一座雄伟的宫殿。 宫殿的一扇窗户里，站着老太婆，旁边还有位漂亮极了的少女，正在向楼下张望。 这老太婆却是个女巫，她告诉少女："那边森林里走出来一个人，他身体内有件珍宝，咱们一定要把它骗到手，我心爱的小女儿，要知道，咱们更配得到那宝贝。他呀，肚子里有颗鸟心，所以每天早上都能在枕头下找到块金子。"接着，她对姑娘讲怎么下手，怎么做戏，最后恶狠狠地瞪着姑娘，威胁说："你要是不听我的话，一定倒霉！"这当儿，猎人走近了，看见姑娘便自言自语起来："我已经东游西荡很久喽，现在想休息休息。到那座华丽的宫殿去呆一呆，反正我有的是黄金嘛。"话虽如此，真正的原因却是他已相中了那位美人儿。
他跨进宫门，受到了亲切的迎接、礼貌的招待。 没过多久，他已完全迷上那巫婆的女儿，什么也顾不到了，他总是望着她的眼睛，她要求什么，他都乐意去做。 这时候，老巫婆说："喏，咱们这就必须取鸟心了，他失去以后，不会有任何感觉的。"接着，她们调制了一种药水，煮开后，斟在一只杯子里。 老巫婆把杯子递给姑娘，命令她给猎人送去。 她对他讲："呵，亲爱的，喝了吧，为着我！"猎人接过杯子，刚吞下那药水，立刻从肚子里呕吐出了鸟心。 姑娘悄悄把它捡起来吞了，因为老巫婆要她这样。 从此，猎人的枕头下再没发现金子，金子跑到姑娘的枕下了，每天早晨老婆子都一定去取。 那小伙子呢，却对姑娘爱得发了痴，完全不想其它，一心只渴望和她一起消磨时光。
这时，老巫婆又说了："鸟心咱们有了，可如意斗篷也一定得夺过来。"姑娘却回答："斗篷咱们就留给他吧，他可是已失去自己的财富了呵。"巫婆一听大怒，说："那样的斗篷是世间难得的宝物 ，我一定要，非要不可！ "她教给姑娘鬼点子，说，如果她不听话，一定叫她吃苦头。姑娘只好照老婆子说的做，随后便走到窗前，眺望着远方，装出一副忧郁的样子。猎人问："你干吗忧伤地站在那儿？ ""唉，我亲爱的，"她回答，"对面有一座宝石山，那儿产精美无比的红宝石。 我非常想得到它们，因此一想起来就十分难过；可又有谁能替我去取呢？ 只有鸟儿能飞上山去，人是绝对去不了的啊！ ""如果你忧虑的只是这点事，"猎人说，"我愿马上就解除你心头的苦闷。 "说完，他把她拉到自己的斗篷底下，心里想着要去对面的宝石山，一眨眼工夫，两人已经坐在了山上。但见四周宝石闪闪发光，瞅着真叫人心里高兴，他们挑最美最珍贵的搜集了一些。这当儿，老巫婆却作起法来，猎人突然感到眼皮沉重，便对姑娘说："咱们坐下来休息一下吧，我困极了，几乎已经站不稳。 "他俩坐下去，猎人把头枕在姑娘怀中，睡着了。刚等他睡熟，她便从他肩上解下斗篷，拿来自己披上。再拾起地上的宝石，一发愿回家去了。
猎人睡够了醒过来，发现自己心爱的人骗了他，把他一个人丢在了荒山上。 "呵，"他叹道，"世间竟有这样的大骗子！"他坐在那儿忧心忡忡，心痛难忍，却不知怎么办才好。 这宝石山呢，属于一群狂暴粗野的巨人，他们住在山上，在山上胡作非为。 猎人那么坐了没多久，就看见来了三个巨人。 他赶紧躺在地上，装做酣睡的样子。 巨人们走过来，第一个用脚踢他，说："这是条什么虫子，敢躺在这儿做白日梦？""踩死他！"第二个说。 "值得花力气吗？"第三个不屑地讲，"留他一条命吧，他在这儿呆不长，他一往上爬，爬到了山尖，白云就会卷住他，把他带走的。"他们一边谈话，一边往前走。 猎人却记住了他们说的话，一等他们走远，便站起来向着山顶爬去。 他在山顶坐了一会儿，一朵白云悠悠来到，卷起他，带着他在天空中飞了一会儿，最后降落在一座大菜园子里。 菜园四周高墙环绕，他缓缓地落在了圆白菜和其它蔬菜中间的地上。
猎人转头四望，说："我只要有点吃的就好喽，肚子真饿，这么往前走会很吃力啊！可这儿见不到苹果、梨子和其它水果，到处是菜叶，除了菜叶子还是菜叶子。"终于，他想："不得已我可以吃点莴苣嘛，味道虽不怎样，却可以提起我的精神。"于是，他选了一窝最粗壮的吃起来，可是刚吞下几口，他就觉得精神不对，好像他已经完全变了。 果然，他长了四条腿，一个大脑袋，两只长耳朵：他惊恐地看出，自己已变成了一头毛驴。 由于仍然很饿，并受他现在的天性决定，多汁的莴苣变得很有味道了，他贪婪地吃个没完，吃啊吃啊，他终于碰到了另一种莴苣，可他刚吃下一点，又感觉发生了变化：他恢复了自己原来的人样儿。
这时猎人躺在地上睡着了，消除了疲劳。 第二天早上醒来，他把坏莴苣和好莴苣各摘了一棵，想："它们会帮我夺回自己的东西，惩罚那不忠实的人的。"随后 ，他把莴苣藏在身上，翻出围墙，动身找他爱人的宫殿去了。 他东奔西走了好多天，侥幸把它给找着啦。 他马上染黑了脸面，叫他亲生母亲见了也休想认出来，这样才去宫里借宿。 "我累死了，"他说，"再没法往前走。""你是谁啊。老乡？做什么样的营生？"巫婆问。 他回答："我是国王的使者，被派出来寻找天底下长的最美味可口的莴苣。我非常幸运地找到了，正藏在身上哩。只是太阳烤晒得太厉害，我担心鲜嫩的菜叶会蔫掉，不晓得能不能把它送到呵。"
老婆子听说有美味的莴苣，嘴馋起来，说道："亲爱的老乡，让我尝尝那美妙的莴苣好吗？""行啊行啊，"猎人回答，"我有两棵，愿意送你一棵，"说着打开口袋，把坏的一棵递给她。 老婆子毫无防备，想吃那新奇的菜想得口水快流出来了，急忙亲自下厨房去做起来。 做好后，她等不及端上桌子，伸手抓了几片叶子塞进嘴里，哪知刚一咽下肚去，她已失去人形，变成一头驴跑到了院子里。 这当儿巫婆的女仆走进厨房，见莴苣已做好了，想把它端上桌子，可半道也犯了偷偷尝一点的毛病，吃下了几片叶子。 结果莴苣的奇妙作用又马上显示出来，女仆同样变成头母驴，和老巫婆跑到一起去了，而装莴苣的大碗却掉在了地上。 这其间，"国王的使者"和美丽的姑娘坐在一起，她等了好久不见人送菜来，也馋了，就问："不知道莴苣在哪儿呵？"猎人想一定是菜已经起作用，说："我去厨房看看吧。"他走下楼，见两头母驴在院子里兜圈子，莴苣却撒了一地。 "行啦，"他说，"那两个已得到惩罚，"说着把剩余的菜叶儿捡起来放在碗里，端去给姑娘。 "我给你送佳肴来了，免得你久等。"他告诉她。 姑娘于是也吃了一些，立刻也和另外两个一样失去人形，变成母驴跑进院子去了。
猎人先洗了脸，让那些变驴的家伙能认出他，然后才走进院子，说："现在该你们得到背信弃义的报应啦！"他用一条绳子拴起三头母驴，把它们赶到一座磨坊前。 他敲敲窗户，磨坊主探出脑袋来问有什么事。 猎人回答："我有三头蠢驴，再不想养了。你要愿意收留它们，喂它们饲料，把它们圈住，照我说的那样对待它们，你要多少钱我就给你多少钱。""当然可以，当然可以，"磨坊主回答，"可要我怎样对待它们呢？"于是，猎人告诉他，那头老驴，就是从前的巫婆，他每天得揍它三次，却只给一顿草料吃；那头年轻点的母驴，就是从前的女仆，他每天要揍它三次，喂它三顿；那最小的一头驴，就是从前的漂亮姑娘，他不用揍它，只要喂它三次。 "要知道，猎人还是不忍心让姑娘挨打哟。随后他回到宫里，在那儿找到了他所需要的一切。
几天后，磨坊主来说，他必须报告：那头一天挨揍却只有一次草吃的老母驴死了。 "另外两头虽然没死，也得到三顿草料吃，"他说 ，"却显得十分伤心，看样子也熬不了多久喽。"猎人听了心肠软了，克制住怨恨，告诉磨坊主把它们给他赶回来。 两头母驴回来后，他给它们吃了好莴苣，它俩马上又变成人了。 美丽的姑娘一下跪在猎人面前，说："唉，亲爱的，原谅我对你干的坏事！都是我母亲逼着我干的，我本心才不愿意呐，因为我打心眼儿喜欢你。你的如意斗篷挂在我衣柜里；我愿意喝呕吐药，吐出鸟心来还给你。"猎人一听也改了想法，说："留着吧，反正都一样，因为我要娶你，让你做我忠实的妻子。"随后举行了婚礼，他们一直到死都愉快和睦。
There was once a young huntsman who went into the forest to lie in wait. He had a fresh and joyous heart, and as he was going thither, whistling upon a leaf, an ugly old crone came up, who spoke to him and said, "Good-day, dear huntsman, truly you are merry and contented, but I am suffering from hunger and thirst, do give me an alms." The huntsman had compassion on the poor old creature, felt in his pocket, and gave her what he could afford. He was then about to go further, but the old woman stopped him and said, "Listen, dear huntsman, to what I tell you; I will make you a present in return for your kindness. Go on your way now, but in a little while you will come to a tree, whereon nine birds are sitting which have a cloak in their claws, and are plucking at it; take your gun and shoot into the midst of them, they will let the cloak fall down to you, but one of the birds will be hurt, and will drop down dead. Carry away the cloak, it is a wishing-cloak; when you throw it over your shoulders, you only have to wish to be in a certain place, and you will be there in the twinkling of an eye. Take out the heart of the dead bird and swallow it whole, and every morning early, when you get up, you will find a gold piece under your pillow." The huntsman thanked the wise woman, and thought to himself, "Those are fine things that she has promised me, if all does but come true." And verily when he had walked about a hundred paces, he heard in the branches above him such a screaming and twittering that he looked up and saw there a crowd of birds who were tearing a piece of cloth about with their beaks and claws, and tugging and fighting as if each wanted to have it all to himself. "Well," said the huntsman, "this is wonderful, it has really come to pass just as the old wife foretold!" and he took the gun from his shoulder, aimed and fired right into the midst of them, so that the feathers flew about. The birds instantly took to flight with loud outcries, but one dropped down dead, and the cloak fell at the same time. Then the huntsman did as the old woman had directed him, cut open the bird, sought the heart, swallowed it down, and took the cloak home with him.
Next morning, when he awoke, the promise occurred to him, and he wished to see if it also had been fulfilled. When he lifted up the pillow, the gold piece shone in his eyes, and next day he found another, and so it went on, every time he got up. He gathered together a heap of gold, but at last he thought, "Of what use is all my gold to me if I stay at home? I will go forth and see the world."
He then took leave of his parents, buckled on his huntsman's pouch and gun, and went out into the world. It came to pass, that one day he travelled through a dense forest, and when he came to the end of it, in the plain before him stood a fine castle. An old woman was standing with a wonderfully beautiful maiden, looking out of one of the windows. The old woman, however, was a witch and said to the maiden, "There comes one out of the forest, who has a wonderful treasure in his body, we must filch it from him, my dear daughter, it is more suitable for us than for him. He has a bird's heart about him, by means of which a gold piece lies every morning under his pillow." She told her what she was to do to get it, and what part she had to play, and finally threatened her, and said with angry eyes, "And if you do not attend to what I say, it will be the worse for you." Now when the huntsman came nearer he descried the maiden, and said to himself, "I have travelled about for such a long time, I will take a rest for once, and enter that beautiful castle. I have certainly money enough." Nevertheless, the real reason was that he had caught sight of the pretty girl.
He entered the house, and was well received and courteously entertained. Before long he was so much in love with the young witch that he no longer thought of anything else, and only saw things as she saw them, and did what she desired. The old woman then said, "Now we must have the bird's heart, he will never miss it." She prepared a drink, and when it was ready, poured it into a cup and gave it to the maiden, who was to present it to the huntsman. She did so, saying, "Now, my dearest, drink to me." So he took the cup, and when he had swallowed the draught, he brought up the heart of the bird. The girl had to take it away secretly and swallow it herself, for the old woman would have it so. Thenceforward he found no more gold under his pillow, but it lay instead under that of the maiden, from whence the old woman fetched it away every morning; but he was so much in love and so befooled, that he thought of nothing else but of passing his time with the girl.
Then the old witch said, "We have the bird's heart, but we must also take the wishing-cloak away from him." The girl answered, "We will leave him that, he has lost his wealth." The old woman was angry and said, "Such a mantle is a wonderful thing, and is seldom to be found in this world. I must and will have it!" She gave the girl several blows, and said that if she did not obey, it should fare ill with her. So she did the old woman's bidding, placed herself at the window and looked on the distant country, as if she were very sorrowful. The huntsman asked, "Why dost thou stand there so sorrowfully?" - "Ah, my beloved," was her answer, "over yonder lies the Garnet Mountain, where the precious stones grow. I long for them so much that when I think of them, I feel quite sad, but who can get them? Only the birds; they fly and can reach them, but a man never." - "Hast thou nothing else to complain of?" said the huntsman. "I will soon remove that burden from thy heart." With that he drew her under his mantle, wished himself on the Garnet Mountain, and in the twinkling of an eye they were sitting on it together. Precious stones were glistening on every side so that it was a joy to see them, and together they gathered the finest and costliest of them. Now, the old woman had, through her sorceries, contrived that the eyes of the huntsman should become heavy. He said to the maiden, "We will sit down and rest awhile, I am so tired that I can no longer stand on my feet." Then they sat down, and he laid his head in her lap, and fell asleep. When he was asleep, she unfastened the mantle from his shoulders, and wrapped herself in it, picked up the garnets and stones, and wished herself back at home with them.
But when the huntsman had had his sleep out and awoke, and perceived that his sweetheart had betrayed him, and left him alone on the wild mountain, he said, "Oh, what treachery there is in the world!" and sat down there in care and sorrow, not knowing what to do. But the mountain belonged to some wild and monstrous giants who dwelt thereon and lived their lives there, and he had not sat long before he saw three of them coming towards him, so he lay down as if he were sunk in a deep sleep. Then the giants came up, and the first kicked him with his foot and said, "What sort of an earth-worm is lying curled up here? The second said, "Step upon him and kill him." But the third said, "That would indeed be worth your while; just let him live, he cannot remain here; and when he climbs higher, toward the summit of of the mountain, the clouds will lay hold of him and bear him away." So saying they passed by. But the huntsman had paid heed to their words, and as soon as they were gone, he rose and climbed up to the summit of the mountain, and when he had sat there a while, a cloud floated towards him, caught him up, carried him away, and travelled about for a long time in the heavens. Then it sank lower, and let itself down on a great cabbage-garden, girt round by walls, so that he came softly to the ground on cabbages and vegetables.
Then the huntsman looked about him and said, "If I had but something to eat! I am so hungry, and my hunger will increase in course of time; but I see here neither apples nor pears, nor any other sort of fruit, everywhere nothing but cabbages," but at length he thought, "At a pinch I can eat some of the leaves, they do not taste particularly good, but they will refresh me." With that he picked himself out a fine head of cabbage, and ate it, but scarcely had he swallowed a couple of mouthfuls than he felt very strange and quite different.
Four legs grew on him, a large head and two thick ears, and he saw with horror that he was changed into an ass. Still as his hunger increased every minute, and as the juicy leaves were suitable to his present nature, he went on eating with great zest. At last he arrived at a different kind of cabbage, but as soon as he had swallowed it, he again felt a change, and reassumed his former human shape.
Then the huntsman lay down and slept off his fatigue. When he awoke next morning, he broke off one head of the bad cabbages and another of the good ones, and thought to himself, "This shall help me to get my own again and punish treachery." Then he took the cabbages with him, climbed over the wall, and went forth to seek for the castle of his sweetheart. After wandering about for a couple of days he was lucky enough to find it again. He dyed his face brown, so that his own mother would not have known him; and begged for shelter: "I am so tired," said he, "that I can go no further." The witch asked, "Who are you, countryman, and what is your business?" - "I am a King's messenger, and was sent out to seek the most delicious salad which grows beneath the sun. I have even been so fortunate as to find it, and am carrying it about with me; but the heat of the sun is so intense that the delicate cabbage threatens to wither, and I do not know if I can carry it any further."
When the old woman heard of the exquisite salad, she was greedy, and said, "Dear countryman, let me just taste this wonderful salad." - "Why not?" answered he, "I have brought two heads with me, and will give you one of them," and he opened his pouch and handed her the bad cabbage. The witch suspected nothing amiss, and her mouth watered so for this new dish that she herself went into the kitchen and dressed it. When it was prepared she could not wait until it was set on the table, but took a couple of leaves at once, and put them in her mouth, but hardly had she swallowed them than she was deprived of her human shape, and she ran out into the courtyard in the form of an ass. Presently the maid-servant entered the kitchen, saw the salad standing there ready prepared, and was about to carry it up; but on the way, according to habit, she was seized by the desire to taste, and she ate a couple of leaves. Instantly the magic power showed itself, and she likewise became an ass and ran out to the old woman, and the dish of salad fell to the ground. Meantime the messenger sat beside the beautiful girl, and as no one came with the salad and she also was longing for it, she said, "I don't know what has become of the salad." The huntsman thought, "The salad must have already taken effect," and said, "I will go to the kitchen and inquire about it." As he went down he saw the two asses running about in the courtyard; the salad, however, was lying on the ground. "All right," said he, "the two have taken their portion," and he picked up the other leaves, laid them on the dish, and carried them to the maiden. "I bring you the delicate food myself," said he, "in order that you may not have to wait longer." Then she ate of it, and was, like the others, immediately deprived of her human form, and ran out into the courtyard in the shape of an ass.
After the huntsman had washed his face, so that the transformed ones could recognize him, he went down into the courtyard, and said, "Now you shall receive the wages of your treachery," and bound them together, all three with one rope, and drove them along until he came to a mill. He knocked at the window, the miller put out his head, and asked what he wanted. "I have three unmanageable beasts," answered he, "which I don't want to keep any longer. Will you take them in, and give them food and stable room, and manage them as I tell you, and then I will pay you what you ask." The miller said, "Why not? But how am I to manage them?" The huntsman then said that he was to give three beatings and one meal daily to the old donkey, and that was the witch; one beating and three meals to the younger one, which was the servant-girl; and to the youngest, which was the maiden, no beatings and three meals, for he could not bring himself to have the maiden beaten. After that he went back into the castle, and found therein everything he needed.
After a couple of days, the miller came and said he must inform him that the old ass which had received three beatings and only one meal daily was dead; "the two others," he continued, "are certainly not dead, and are fed three times daily, but they are so sad that they cannot last much longer." The huntsman was moved to pity, put away his anger, and told the miller to drive them back again to him. And when they came, he gave them some of the good salad, so that they became human again. The beautiful girl fell on her knees before him, and said, "Ah, my beloved, forgive me for the evil I have done you; my mother drove me to it; it was done against my will, for I love you dearly. Your wishing-cloak hangs in a cupboard, and as for the bird's-heart I will take a vomiting potion." But he thought otherwise, and said, "Keep it; it is all the same, for I will take thee for my true wife." So the wedding was celebrated, and they lived happily together until their death.