"Come, Vanč," said Anže when he went past his home with two other friends, "we will make a catapult." The other two were Nacek and Jožko, both from the village, from Trzin.
"Wait, wait, what's a catapult?" he asked.
They did not answer, but rushed on and shouted in a hurry from afar: "Come to the quarry and you'll see!"
And they were gone. Vanč started wondering what this could be. It gnawed him so much that he forgot what his father had asked him to do. He headed out on the top of Onger.
Naturally, at that time the quarry of Trzin was not as large as it became later. Stones were rarely cut, by hand, with iron poles, picks and, of course, with shovels. Loading carts were not known yet, at least not in this part of the countryside. At that time, there were only a few metres of space down there. If you threw a stone from the top, it flew quite far; the children thus often threw stones and competed who would fling them the farthest.
When Vanč arrived to the top of the quarry, Nacek and Jožko were struggling to bend a young and not very thick ash, or rather a very thick stick, but they failed. Vanč saw from afar how the tree slipped away from their hands and shot high in the sky.
"Help, help us!" shouted Nacek, but in vain, the tree again slipped away from their hands.
"Why didn't you come sooner? Now you climb the tree, I'm tired," complained Jožko.
"What? The tree?" he asked. And they explained that he should climb the tree and then, when it would go down and bend to the ground together with him, they would tie it to a nearby rock with a rope.
Indeed, Vanč climbed the ash tree almost to the top, so high that the tree slowly started to bend towards the ground. Naturally, the fear was disturbing at that moment, as Vanč could tumble to the ground with a broken top. This time they succeeded. They firmly pressed the tree to the ground and securely tied it to the rock.
"I have chosen a good tree, don't you think so?" said Nacek to Jožko.
"Yes, it's tight and slender enough, it's important that it's not too thick and that it doesn't break when we bend it, otherwise you would have seen hell!" he threatened Vanč.
"We were very lucky, right, Nacek?"
"What luck, this is knowledge!" said Nacek cheerfully.
Anyway, the catapult was almost ready.
"What will you do now?" asked Vanč with curiosity.
"Well, listen," Nacek started explaining, "the Turks and lords used to have such devices, or some sort of a cannon, to defend their castles, my father told me this, and I thought that we could do something similar."
And he explained everything. Nacek brought a large wicker basket and tied it to a tree.
"Now you will see real power!" shouted Nacek delightfully. "And don't forget to move away from the tree in time or you will fly together with stones."
Naturally, they trimmed the tree earlier. They put quite a large stone, rather a small rock, into the basket, as it was almost full.
"Pay attention. When I cut the rope, come and see how far the rock will fly."
Of course, they were all excited and full of expectations, they did not even think of all the danger that could happen to them. Moreover, it did not come to their minds where the rock would fall, and also if there was someone down there at that moment – boom on his head and he would be gone. But they were not worried since people did not walk around a lot in those days, they kept to their homes and Nacek relied on that.
"Watch out!" he warned and cut the rope with a sharp knife. The young bended tree flew in the sky, together with stones in the basket.
In a flash, they were all on the edge of the quarry. They could not believe their eyes; the rock first flew high in the sky and then started to fall far, far, towards the meadow below.
"Well done!" they all screamed with enthusiasm.
"We'll try again. It's fun, isn't it?" asked Nacek.
"Of course, as long as it will be possible!"
And they really had fun; they made a catapult several times over until one day the basket untied too early, the stones scattered and almost fell on their heads. But this did not stop them, they told other friends as well, so there were quite a few rocks down there below the quarry. Excitement was everywhere! The rumours about the catapult spread in the village.
The parents thought of it as a game, until one day, Maks, the castle hunter and forester, slowly walked by below Onger heading to the castle forests. When he passed by, a huge stone flew onto his head. He got scared as he had never seen such large rocks flying through the air. He looked up to the quarry into the scrub and saw children laughing joyfully. "Oh, that's it," he said, "children are throwing stones! Well, let's see what's going on up there," he thought and quietly and unnoticeably hurried to the quarry. The children were just getting ready for the next shoot from the catapult. He waited for them to finish and then surprised them with his presence. It was too late, they could not run away anymore, and why would they, they did not hurt anyone. The forester reprimanded them and told them what could happen during such a reckless game. He demanded that they stop this dangerous game immediately and threatened them to tell their parents what they were doing in the forest above the quarry. The boys were deeply disappointed and miserable, but when the forester told them that the stones had flew over his head and what could have happened if they had hit a cart with the yoke, they were consoled and went home.
The following day, they were told off at home, each in his own way. And the game was finished; only a memory remained and a nice feeling that the catapult worked well.
As time went by, Vanč remained Vanč, Nacek became Nace and Jožko Jože. They were lads now, no more children, and they were well aware of it. And one day after several years, French soldiers camped right there below the quarry. At first, they were welcome in our country, but due to the increasing taxes and roughness, they became annoying. Therefore, people started to resist. The growing success of the Austrian army was also responsible for that. The citizens of Trzin whispered that they wanted to play a trick on the French, as they were not very pleased with the French camping under their noses.
Vanč, Nace and Jože were now old enough to be enlisted in army, so they thought that the French had to be chased out of Trzin. But how – the meadow under Onger was full of tents with armed soldiers!
One day, Vanč got an idea and mentioned it to Jože and Nace. They both agreed. "We'll give them hell and they won't even know who is chasing them." They agreed on attacking them with a catapult. They looked at the suitable trees and found four perfect ones growing on the edge of the quarry. During the day, they collected the stones and prepared baskets and ropes. Towards the evening, they secretly bended the trees and prepared the catapults for shooting. Only the ropes were not cut yet. Vanč was responsible for that, as his home was the closest. They agreed that he would trigger them when the soldiers would be resting.
And this indeed happened. At eleven o'clock in the evening, when the church bells stopped ringing, Vanč cut the ropes, one by one. He was terrified, as he did not know what the consequences would be.
When the rocks hit the camp down there below Onger, one after another, the guards were paralysed and the din, hue and cry raised in the camp, as they did not know from where the rocks were coming and could not fight against anybody. In a moment, many tents were demolished and several soldiers had smashed heads. Orders were issued in complete disorder. Only a few shots from cannon were heard, fired rather from fear than defence.
Vanč did not dare to go home that night. He slept in the quarry in a kind of karst cave, which is still visible today and was a good hiding place as well. In the morning, he headed for home with a small axe and a light dry spruce over his shoulder. But not straight home, he went towards the castle where it was safer. The next day, the French looked at the rocks that had fallen on their heads the previous night and could not figure out how and who threw them so far. He could not throw them with his hands – in this case, he would have to be a giant, not a man. They also looked at the top of the quarry but, apart from a few branches and shabby ash trees, they did not see anything. No one suspected anything; or the citizens of Trzin would have been in a tight spot. The French lingered there for a few more days and then they moved elsewhere, as Trzin was too dangerous. Supposedly, the citizens of Mengeš and Trzin defeated the very same Frenchmen a few days later on the Mengeš Plain.
Vanč, Nace and Jože later received a valuable award from the noble Emperor of Austria. If you do not believe it, go to Vienna and the imperial court where the awards are being kept. There you can see them. Naturally, you will have to try very hard to find them!