从前有个女巫，她有三个儿子，这兄弟三人真是手足情深，可女巫却不信任他们，总以为他们会夺走她的权。 于是她把老大变成了一只苍鹰，只能生活在悬崖顶上，人们时常看见它在空中不停地翱翔盘旋。 她又把老二变成一头鲸，每天生活在大海的深处，人们总看到他不时地从水里喷出巨大水柱。 兄弟俩一天内只有两小时可恢复人形。 小儿子由于害怕女巫把他也变成一只猛兽、一头熊或一条狼，就偷偷地逃走了。 他曾听说国王的女儿中了魔法，被关在了金太阳宫，等着有人去解救。 已有二十三个年轻人冒险去救她，可都惨死在那儿。 现在只剩一人可以去救她，以后谁也不能去了。 这年轻人生性大胆，他拿定主意要去寻找金太阳宫。 他日夜兼程地赶路，可连宫殿的影子也没找着，最后他进了一片大森林之中。 突然他看见两个巨人在向他招手，便赶了过去。 巨人说："我们正为一顶帽子争执不下，因为我们彼此都一样强壮，谁也斗不过谁，不知道到底这帽子该归谁。小人儿总是挺聪明，我们让你说这帽子该归谁呢？""你们居然会为一顶帽子而争执不休！"年轻人说道。 "你不晓得它是个多好的宝贝，这是顶如意帽，谁戴上它呀，想到哪儿就能立刻到哪儿。""来，把帽子给我，"年轻人说，"我先走一阵子，然后再叫你们，你们就来赛跑，谁先到我那儿，帽子就归谁。"说完他就戴着帽子跑了，可他心里老是想着公主，竟把那两个巨人给忘了，他一直往前走去，最后，从心底里叹了口气说："噢，我要是在金太阳宫有多好啊！"可话刚出口，他就站在宫门前的高山上了。
年轻人走进宫门，挨个走过每个房间，在最后的一间才找到了公主。 可当他看着公主时，他是何等的吃惊啊，只见她那死灰色的脸儿布满了皱纹，双眼黯淡无光，头发变成了红色。 "你就是那位人人都夸她的世上最美丽的公主吗？"年轻人叫了出来。 "这可不是我的本来面目，人眼只能看到我这种丑陋模样，你想见到我的真样子，可以看看这面镜子，它会显露我的真面孔给你看的。"她把镜子递到年轻人手里，他在镜子里看到了世界上最美丽的少女的形象，还看到她是如何伤心地泪流满面的。 于是他对公主说："我怎么才能救你呢，我什么都不怕。"公主说："谁能得到水晶球，把它拿到巫师的面前，就可以破他的魔法，我也可以恢复原形了。"公主又补充说，"已经有那么多人为此而丧身，你年纪轻轻的，要是有什么三长两短，叫我于心何忍。""谁也阻止不了我，"他说，"告诉我该怎么做。"公主说："你得知道，宫殿坐落在山上，从这儿下去有一口泉水，旁边会有一头公牛在等你，你得和它搏斗，如果你运气好把它杀掉，一只火鸡就会从它体内飞出来，它肚内有一颗蛋，烧得红红的，蛋黄中就藏着那水晶球。但鸟不会放下蛋来，除非迫不得已，如果蛋落到地上，立刻就会燃起熊熊大火，烧毁周围的一切，蛋也会自己溶化，里面的水晶球也不例外，这样一切都白费了。"
年轻人下山之后来到了泉水边，那儿野牛正喘着气朝着他怒吼呢。 经过长时间的搏斗，年轻人把剑捅进了牛肚，野牛倒下了，转眼间体内飞出了一只火一般的鸟儿，鸟儿刚想飞走，年轻人的大哥从云层里扑了下来，把它赶到大海边，又用嘴啄它，鸟儿只得无可奈何地扔下了那只蛋。 不过蛋并没有落在海里，而是掉在了沙滩上渔夫的屋顶顶蓬上。 那屋立刻着火了，眼看就要倾塌，这时海掀起了浪头，盖过了屋顶，压住了火势。 原来这是年轻人的二哥，那条鲸，游过来掀起了浪潮。 火扑灭了，年轻人幸运地找到了那颗还没溶化的蛋，蛋壳因被冷水这么一浸已裂开了。 他取出了水晶球，发现它毫毛无损。
There was once an enchantress, who had three sons who loved each other as brothers, but the old woman did not trust them, and thought they wanted to steal her power from her. So she changed the eldest into an eagle, which was forced to dwell in the rocky mountains, and was often seen sweeping in great circles in the sky. The second, she changed into a whale, which lived in the deep sea, and all that was seen of it was that it sometimes spouted up a great jet of water in the air. Each of them only bore his human form for only two hours daily. The third son, who was afraid she might change him into a raging wild beast a bear perhaps, or a wolf, went secretly away. He had heard that a King's daughter who was bewitched, was imprisoned in the Castle of the Golden Sun, and was waiting for deliverance. Those, however, who tried to free her risked their lives; three-and-twenty youths had already died a miserable death, and now only one other might make the attempt, after which no more must come. And as his heart was without fear, he caught at the idea of seeking out the Castle of the Golden Sun. He had already travelled about for a long time without being able to find it, when he came by chance into a great forest, and did not know the way out of it. All at once he saw in the distance two giants, who made a sign to him with their hands, and when he came to them they said, "We are quarrelling about a cap, and which of us it is to belong to, and as we are equally strong, neither of us can get the better of the other. The small men are cleverer than we are, so we will leave the decision to thee." - "How can you dispute about an old cap?" said the youth. "Thou dost not know what properties it has! It is a wishing-cap; whosoever puts it on, can wish himself away wherever he likes, and in an instant he will be there." - "Give me the cap," said the youth, "I will go a short distance off, and when I call you, you must run a race, and the cap shall belong to the one who gets first to me." He put it on and went away, and thought of the King's daughter, forgot the giants, and walked continually onward. At length he sighed from the very bottom of his heart, and cried, "Ah, if I were but at the Castle of the Golden Sun," and hardly had the words passed his lips than he was standing on a high mountain before the gate of the castle.
He entered and went through all the rooms, until in the last he found the King's daughter. But how shocked he was when he saw her. She had an ashen-gray face full of wrinkles, blear eyes, and red hair. "Are you the King's daughter, whose beauty the whole world praises?" cried he. "Ah," she answered, "this is not my form; human eyes can only see me in this state of ugliness, but that thou mayst know what I am like, look in the mirror it does not let itself be misled it will show thee my image as it is in truth." She gave him the mirror in his hand, and he saw therein the likeness of the most beautiful maiden on earth, and saw, too, how the tears were rolling down her cheeks with grief. Then said he, "How canst thou be set free? I fear no danger." She said, "He who gets the crystal ball, and holds it before the enchanter, will destroy his power with it, and I shall resume my true shape. Ah," she added, "so many have already gone to meet death for this, and thou art so young; I grieve that thou shouldst encounter such great danger." - "Nothing can keep me from doing it," said he, "but tell me what I must do." - "Thou shalt know everything," said the King's daughter; "when thou descendest the mountain on which the castle stands, a wild bull will stand below by a spring, and thou must fight with it, and if thou hast the luck to kill it, a fiery bird will spring out of it, which bears in its body a burning egg, and in the egg the crystal ball lies like a yolk. The bird will not, however, let the egg fall until forced to do so, and if it falls on the ground, it will flame up and burn everything that is near, and melt even ice itself, and with it the crystal ball, and then all thy trouble will have been in vain."
The youth went down to the spring, where the bull snorted and bellowed at him. After a long struggle he plunged his sword in the animal's body, and it fell down. Instantly a fiery bird arose from it, and was about to fly away, but the young man's brother, the eagle, who was passing between the clouds, swooped down, hunted it away to the sea, and struck it with his beak until, in its extremity, it let the egg fall. The egg did not, however, fall into the sea, but on a fisherman's hut which stood on the shore and the hut began at once to smoke and was about to break out in flames. Then arose in the sea waves as high as a house, they streamed over the hut, and subdued the fire. The other brother, the whale, had come swimming to them, and had driven the water up on high. When the fire was extinguished, the youth sought for the egg and happily found it; it was not yet melted, but the shell was broken by being so suddenly cooled with the water, and he could take out the crystal ball unhurt.
When the youth went to the enchanter and held it before him, the latter said, "My power is destroyed, and from this time forth thou art the King of the Castle of the Golden Sun. With this canst thou likewise give back to thy brothers their human form." Then the youth hastened to the King's daughter, and when he entered the room, she was standing there in the full splendour of her beauty, and joyfully they exchanged rings with each other.