While trying to learn more about the city that I’m currently living in – Trbovlje – I’ve stumbled upon a local legend about a dwarf – named Perkmandeljc – that lives in the mines.
In a small mining city there lived Mathias family. Their children were mischievous, full of life and dreams. From all the games that they’ve played they liked playing hide and seek – in the tunnels or holes that were in the surrounding hills – the most. A hill that was the most fun to play with had the scariest name – Spitzberg.
One night while hugging cosily by the fireplace the children were talking about their adventures in the hills. At one point their dad joked: “Watch out, Perkmandeljc lives there. Though I haven’t seen it yet it is still a menace to us miners”.
Their father called Matija was a miner, a hard working, honest and righteous man. While working in a mine one day he hadn’t noticed that Perkmandeljc had been lurking around him for some time. He heard a rustling sound a couple of times and he thought that someone was pulling on his trousers but when he put down his pickaxe and looked around he saw no one.
One day his children went to the hill to hide in – Stolms – tunnels and holes. Their voices could be heard far away and they played worry free all day long until Elčka screamed: “Watch out, it’s a snake!”. The children ran as fast as the wind but when they came to the base of the hill they trembled as they saw that their sister Marica was missing. The boys went back and called out to her loudly, but she didn’t respond and they couldn’t find her. They went back home in tears to tell their mother what had happened to them at the Spitzberg hill.
The mother said: “We will calmly wait until your father comes back and in the meantime I just know it that the little dwarf will protect our Marica. When we go all together to the hill we’ll find her safe and sound, you’ll see”.
During that time their father was mining in the tunnels and was getting angry with the playful dwarf. Matija got so annoyed that he lost his composure and cursed – which he never did. Perkmandeljc got angry with him, it picked up Matija’s oil lantern and ran into another shaft. Matija chased after it because he would get lost in the mine without a lantern. This headless running among the tunnel’s support beams made the other miners break into laughter.
Out of nowhere Perkmandeljc dropped the oil lantern and its shoe to the ground. Matija tripped over and fell right at the exit of an abandoned tunnel. He looked confused, he picked up his lantern and the shoe and crawled under the rocks of the Spitzberg hill. After a couple of steps he fell to the ground, covered in cuts and bruises. Just as he was trying to take a rest he heard a crying sound. He looked around and was shocked at what he saw – it was Marica lying on the ground. He picked her up and took her into his arms. She slowly recovered and explained to her father how she fell: “I was running from a big snake, I was so scared that I didn’t look where I was running to and I fell into a cave. I’m so happy that you found me”.
From that day on their father cared about the little mischievous dwarf Perkmandeljc. Never again did he think about cursing at, kicking or chasing the dwarf away from him as he was most grateful that it led him to his daughter when she most needed him.
Now I know that if I or anyone else in Zasavje ever gets lost in the hills Perkmandeljc will always be watching out for us.
Written by: Magdalena Wójcik