The Stone Flower (The Hostess of the Copper Mountain)
Once upon a time in a small Russian village near the Ural Mountains there was an old stone carver named Prokopyi. He was the best craftsman in his area and all locals knew him because of the real masterpieces he created. He made various things out of malachite such as jewelry, vases, stone boxes and more. Many people would like him to teach their sons, but no one had enough patience and would quit shortly after. In the same village there was an orphan boy named Danilo. He was watching an old craftsman creating his masterpieces from the street and was fascinated with his work. Prokopyi knew that some day he will die of his old age and wanted to leave his legacy and skills for new generations. And since an old master did not have a son or a daughter on his own, he decided to give Danilo a chance to learn his business. The young orphan was very interested and moved to Prokopyi’s hut. Danilo watched the old master’s every step in the process of his work. In his free of work and studies time Danilo helped the master with house chores. The young man was so passionate about learning more about stones and the business of carving them, that he did not feel tired after hours and hours of work.
Sometimes Prokopyi had to remind him to take a break of lunch. The first big Danilo’s project was to make a vase out of stone according to a sketch that one wealthy merchant wanted to order for his daughter’s wedding. The young craftsman worked days and nights on the project. Finally, when the vase was finished, he showed it to Prokopyi and some other old craftsmen to hear their professional opinions on his work. Everyone liked the vase very much including the old master Prokopyi. But Danilo alone was not completely happy with his project. He compared the real wild flower and his vase and said to Prokopyi, “My vase does not have any living beauty in it unlike the real flower that was born under the sun. I would like one day to make a vase just as beautiful as the real flower. The one that is carved of stone and gems but also has the living beauty of the real flower.” The old craftsman listened to him and replied, “There is such a flower in possession of the hostess of the copper mountain. Good people say that this flower is the most beautiful thing that exists, but whoever will see it at least once will never be happy again since they truly understand the full beauty and power of the stones.
Danilo was more excited than ever to keep working on improving his skills. He started go to the woods to look for specific stones and flowers that would match best for his future project. The girl who lived nearby once saw Danilo there and he pleased her look. Danilo fell in love with Katya too and the couple soon got engaged. One day, the young man was back in the woods looking for inspiration, all of the sudden a mysterious woman who was dressed nicely in green and blue appeared behind him, called his name and provided the instructions on how to find the materials that he was looking for. Danilo followed her directions and found a huge piece of malachite a few seconds later. The craftsman was overjoyed with his rare find. He took the rock home and immediately started his new project. The vase came out a lot more beautiful than the first one, but again, Danilo was not happy with the result. The young craftsman became more and more sad every day after every vase that he tried to carve. He went back to the hill where he found the rare malachite, sat down on the rock and said, “I wish I could see the flower that Prokopyi told the legend about”. Suddenly, Danilo heard a female voice behind him that called his name. The hostess of the copper mountain said to him then, “I can show my flower to you if you really wish, but remember not to regret about it afterwards.” The craftsman replied, “I am determined in my dreams and I know I must see the flower in order to become a real craftsman.” The hostess led Danilo to her garden and showed her the stunning flower that was in the middle of it glowing with its beauty. Danilo’s eyes sparkled with the fascination by the magic flower and the young man remembered nothing else, but the beauty of the stone flower. He even forgot about Katya and their engagement. Three years past by since no one heard anything from Danilo the Craftsman.
The kind-hearted Danilo’s fiance moved in with the old Prokopyi to take care of him and help with his work and chores. She used to watch Prokopyi work and learned a few basic things about carving the stones. Soon the old master died of his old age and Katya was left to live in hut on her own. She started making some souvenirs out of stone and sold them on the market in order to survive. One day Katya went to the woods and found herself standing on the same mountain that her beloved Danilo often used to go to. Realizing that, the poor girl started crying in memory of her missing fiancé. When suddenly she looked around Katya saw that the mountain that she was standing on, had cracked in the middle. The brave maiden did not hesitate to go inside and look for her beloved Danilo. Suddenly, the hostess of the copper mountain appeared in front of her and asked her why Katya entered her garden without any permission. “If you are looking for stones and gems,” she said. “Take as many as you wish here and go home.” “I did not come here for your dead stones, I wish to see my fiancé Danilo the Craftsman whom you stole from me,“ Katya answered. The hostess of the copper mountain was astonished, but respected the brave maiden who did dare enough to speak like that. She said then, “I will let Danilo speak now so he can make his choice. When the young craftsman appeared and saw Katya, he immediately remembered her, but the hostess of the copper mountain asked him, “You have to make your choice now, Danilo the Craftsman! If you choose to stay here with me, you have to forget the rest of the outside world including this girl. But if you go with her, you will forget the mountain, its secrets and your stone carving skills that you had learned here.” Danilo replied, “Thank you for showing me the beauty of your stones and for your kindness, but I cannot forget where I came from and the people that are dear to my heart, I love Katya and choose to go home with her.” The hostess said in reply, “Danilo the Craftsman, I accept and honor your decision.
You are free to go home, but before you do so, I wish to grant you with a very special gift. You will keep your skills and knowledge that you had learned here forever, but please do not tell anyone about the mountain. And if someone asks, tell them that you had to study at the different village for some time. The couple returned home and shortly they got married. Katya and Danilo the Craftsman lived a long and happy life together. Later, Danilo was known as the greatest stone carver of all times not only in his village but far beyond it.