The Scarlet Flower
Along, long time ago there was a merchant Afanasyi that had three daughters. Two elder daughters were only interested in fashion and nice clothes. They spent their days looking at themselves in the mirror after trying on different outfits. The youngest daughter Nastenka was quite different from her sisters. She worked hard doing the chores throughout the house and took did not share her sisters’ interests. The merchant loved his youngest daughter very much and was proud to have such a bright, hardworking and beautiful daughter. One time, the merchant was about to leave for a long journey across the ocean. He called his daughters and said, “My dear daughters, be careful here on your own when I am gone and watch after one another while I am gone. If you promise to do so, I will reward you all with any gift of your wish after I return home.”
The eldest daughter asked the father for a golden tiara decorated with gems and diamonds. The second eldest daughter wished for a magic crystal mirror that would reflect reality more beautiful than it is. When it was Nastenka’s turn to make her wish, she said that the best gift for her would be a scarlet flower. When the merchant arrived to the foreign markets he quickly managed to find the beautiful golden tiara with ruby and diamonds for the eldest daughter. Later he even found the magical mirror for his second eldest daughter. However, he could not find the precious scarlet flower for his youngest one. He kept looking everywhere for three days, but did not have any luck. It was time for him and his crew to sail back home. Afanasyi was not happy to go home without any gift for Nastenka since the scarlet flower was her only wish. Suddenly, from out of nowhere the horrible storm started and sunk Afanasyi’s ship and crew.
The next morning, the merchant found himself thrown by the ocean to the shore of the mysterious island with no people on it. Afanasyi went to look around and the only things that he saw were exotic animals and birds surrounded him. He went in the depth of the forest and saw a gorgeous marble castle. As soon as he approached it, the golden gate opened by itself and loud human voice invited him inside. There was a table in front of him that was covered by white table cloth and had lots of fine food and wine that was enough for an army. As soon as Afanasyi finished his dinner he thanked the invisible host for welcoming him and said that he must return home now to his daughters. On his way back to the ocean, the merchant discovered a little garden with a bright scarlet flower in the center. Afanasyi went and plucked the precious flower as a gift for his youngest daughter Nastenka. As soon as the merchant pulled the flower out of the ground the mysterious beast cried to him in a human voice, “Why did you plucked my favorite scarlet flower? I treated you well as my dear guest here and that is how you pay me back?” The merchant explained the beast that the flower was for his youngest daughter Nastenka, who did not wish for anything else but the scarlet flower. The beast promised to forgive the merchant if after returning back home he sent one of his daughters to the island by putting a magic golden ring on her finger. “If none of your daughter will agree to do so, you must return here yourself,“ added the beast and gave the merchant his magical ring.
The moment Afanasyi put it on his finger, he found himself with the gifts back home among his daughters. The merchant presented his gifts to the daughters and went outside to talk to his neighbor. Nastenka was nearby and heard the story her father was sharing with the neighbor. She found out that someone had to return to the island to please the beast. Late at night when her father was asleep, she took the magic ring from him. The moment she put it on her finger, Nastenka found herself on the island. She brought the flower in order to return it to its master. The beast welcomed and thanked Nastenka for coming. She was treated as a queen, the invisible host did not wish to confront her again remembering that when the beautiful maiden accidentally happened to see him before, she was scared and fell unconscious. After a long time or maybe a short one, Nastenka started feeling home sick but would not dare to ask the beast’s permission to visit her family for a while. However, the beast noticed that and let her go home. It asked her to return back to the island though before sunset of the next day, otherwise it would die from the sorrow.
Nastenka promised to come back before then and put the ring back on her finger. The next thing the young maiden knew, that she found herself among her sister and father. Her elder sisters knew where she came from and asked if Nastenka brought them any gifts. As soon as they asked, the huge boxes full of gifts appeared in front of them. Later, the wicked sisters jealously thought, “If Nastenka granted us with such great gifts, it is hard to describe or imagine what great treasures she may have in her palace on the island. Why she alone should enjoy all of the goods when we are older than her.” The elder sister covered all of the windows in the house and altered time on all of the clocks that made their sister to return to the island late. She encountered the dead beast lying on the ground near the scarlet flower. Nastenka started crying and said how much she loved the beast. Her kind words broke the Witch’s spell. The beast came back to life and turned into a handsome prince who proposed to Nastenka. Shortly after they got married on the island and lived happily ever after.