MISTRESS OF COPPER MOUNTAIN
Location. Urals, Ekaterinburg region, RussiaDate: 1700 Time: daytime
Two men working in a mine extracting malachite and other ore had gone for a brief rest on a nearby meadow. They laid down on the grass and went to sleep.
Suddenly one of the men named Stepan Petrovich awoke by a sudden push on his side. He then saw a strange “woman” sitting in front of him near a large stone. Her outer appearance was that of a very attractive young woman with black plaited hair, she had several red and green beads attached to her plaits. She was not very tall and moved with inhuman speed, like “mercury” changing her position numerous times. Petrovich called her “mercury-girl”.
Petrovich then heard her speaking to someone that was apparently invisible in a language that was totally unknown to him, evidently laughing at the witness and obviously talking about him.
Her manner of dress amazed Petrovich, she wore something like a silk dress but apparently made out of malachite stone (?). The witness became frightened, since he had already heard tales of encounters with a strange female entity in this same area. She was called “The Mistress of Copper Mountain”. He also heard of the different tricks played on humans by entity or entities, he thought to escape, but she suddenly turned around and smiling said, “So why are you staring at my beauty Stepan Petrovich? People pay money just to look at me, Come closer, we will talk a bit”. Somehow the stranger knew the witness name. Seized by fear Stepan told her that he had no time to talk, but she insisted and the young man was forced to obey.
The stranger ordered Stepan to approach her and at this point he noticed what appeared to be hundreds of “lizards” all around her, off different colors, green, bluish, brown ones with gold spots, etc. “Don’t step on them!” The strange woman warned, “They are my army”. “Look how big and heavy you are and they are small”. She then clapped her hands and the lizards went away.
Stepan came closer to her and stopped, but the strange woman clapped her hand again speaking to him in a humiliating manner, and threatening him, “Now you have no place to go, if you step on my servants, you will be in trouble!” He looked down and saw hundreds of lizards gathered at one spot.
The female then said, “Now you have recognized me Stepan. Don’t be afraid. I will not harm you.” But Stepan pointed out that he was indeed very afraid.
The strange woman then ordered Stepan that tomorrow once he was down at the mine he must tell his bosses the following words, “The owner-mistress of the Copper Mountain is ordering you, you stinking he-goat (!) to leave the Red Mountain pit at once. If you continue in destroying my iron cap, I will drop the entire copper deep into the bowels of the earth and it will never be found”. She made Stepan repeat her order and again told him not to be afraid.
She then ordered Stepan to leave and not to tell anything to his companion. She clapped her hands once more and the lizards again went away. She jumped up grabbed a stone and also ran away.
At this moment the stunned Stepan noticed that her outer appearance had suddenly changed, he could see now that she had green paws, a tail with a black crest running down her back, but her head still remained human in appearance. She climbed to the top of the mountain and said, “Don’t forget what I told you Stepan, if you follow my instructions, I will marry you!” Stepan replied disgusted that he would never marry a lizard and spit in her direction. She laughed and said, “We will meet again later, maybe then you would have reached a decision.” She then jumped again and disappeared behind a large rock.
The stunned Stepan pondered what to do since he was both afraid of the reptile woman and his boss. But soon he made the decision to do what he was asked. The next morning he approached his boss in the pit and gave him the message. This infuriated his boss, who accused Stepan of being either drunk or crazy. But Stepan remained firm stating that it was the Mistress of the Copper Mountain’s will. The boss then ordered the others to tie up Stepan with a chain and to beat him mercilessly. He was then imprisoned deep in an underground pit, riveted by a long chain, and exposed to mockery and humiliation.
When Stepan was left alone he began beating on the rock, causing the malachite to crumble. Suddenly it became dry around him and in a moment he saw a bright light and the lizard woman standing before him, she said, “Good man, Stepan Petrovich. You have honored me, you were not afraid of your boss.” The woman then told Stepan to follow her, that she always kept her word, she was going to show him her dowry. She clapped her hands and hundreds of lizards appeared quickly removing Stephan’s chain.
She then invited Stepan into her realm. They went deep into the mountain. She walked ahead, Stepan following closely. Amazingly Stepan watched as they penetrated deeper and deeper into the rock, which appeared to recede in their path. He then saw huge tunnels, caverns and large underground rooms, with decorated walls, with copper flowers. The surroundings looked stunning to Stepan. The woman’s dress also appeared to be changing colors, sparkling like a diamond, and then shining with a greenish tint. Soon they entered a huge room with beds, chairs, stools, all made out of copper. The walls were made of malachite, encrusted with diamonds and the ceiling was dark red with copper flowers.
The “Lizard Queen” then ordered Stepan to sit and asked him if he liked her dowry and if he would marry her. Stepan was hesitant since he already had a bride named Anastasia. He answered that her dowry was a king’s ransom but he was just a working simple man. She frowned, and said, “Don’t hesitate, will you marry me or not?” Stepan answered that he couldn’t since he already had a bride. He was afraid that the woman would become angry. But incredibly, the “Lizard Queen” was thankful and appreciative for his honesty and gave Stepan a present for his wife, a malachite box filled with all types of jewelry.
Stepan then asked how he would get back. She told him not to worry, that it all will be arranged, and added that he would be liberated from his boss and that he would live a rich life with his bride. He was then fed various kinds of food and then the “Lizard Queen” bade farewell giving Stepan several stones pointing out that they would make him rich. Stepan then asked which way he should go, the “Lizard Queen” then pointed with her clawed hands at the stone wall and a hole appeared in front of his eyes that led into a tunnel. Stepan followed the tunnel in which he saw many “treasures”. As he walked the tunnel closed behind him automatically.
Soon after this adventure, Stepan became rich and lucky and people rumored that he had “traded his soul with the Devil”. The work in the mine soon stopped and everything happened as the “Lizard Queen” had predicted. But unfortunately Stepan’s health deteriorated and he began “fading away”. Several years later his dead body was found near the abandoned Red Mountain pit mine, it is said that he had a smile on his face and his rifle was lying nearby. Locals reported seeing a tall green lizard type figure standing over him and crying over his body.
Source: Pavel Bazhov (1879-1950) “Mistress of Copper Mountain” Also Published in Moscow in 1983.Comments: Reputed to have been a “folk tale” based on true events. There are indeed similarities to modern encounters and reports of underground facilities.
Thank you Albert for this interesting story!