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wide, and dry. Having walked downwards
on a gentle decline for a distance of nearly
three thousand feet through the half gloom
and among the echoes, we arrived at the
mouth of the first shaft, named Freudenberg.
The method of descent is called the "Rolle."
It is both simple and efficacious. Down the
steep slope of the shaft, and at an angle, in
this case, of forty-one and a half degrees, run
two smooth railways parallel with each other,
and each of about the thickness of a scaffold
pole ; they are twelve inches apart, and run
together down the shaft like two sides of a
thick ladder without the intervening rounds.
Following the directions and example of the
foremost guide, we sat astride one behind the
other on this wooden tramway, and slid very
comfortably to the bottom, regulating our
speed with our hands. The shaft itself was
only of the width necessary to allow room for
our passage. In this way we descended to
the next chamber in the mountain, at a depth
of a hundred and forty feet (perpendicular)
from the top of the long slide.

We then stood in a low-roofed chamber,
small enough to be lighted throughout by the
dusky glare of our two candles. The walls
and roof sparkled with brown and purple
colours, showing the unworked stratum of
rock-salt. We stood then at the head of the
Untersteinberghauptstulm, and after a glance
back at the narrow slit in the solid limestone
through which we had just descended, we
pursued our way along a narrow gallery of
irregular level for a further distance of six
hundred and sixty feet. A second shaft there
opened us a passage into the deeper regions
of the mine. With a boyish pleasure we all
seated ourselves again upon a "Rolle"—this
time upon the Johann-Jacob-berg-rolle, which
is laid at an angle of forty- five and a half
degreesand away we slipped to the next
level, which is at the perpendicular depth of
another couple of hundred feet.

We alighted in another chamber where our
candles made the same half gloom, with their
ruddy glare into the darkness, where there
was the same sombre glittering upon the
walls and ceiling. We pursued our track
along a devious cutting, haunted by confused
and giant shadows, suddenly passing black
cavernous sideways that startled us as we came
upon them, and I began to expect mummies,
for I thought myself for one minute within
an old Egyptian catacomb. After traversing
a further distance of two thousand seven
hundred feet we halted at the top of the third
slide, the Königs-rolle. That shot us fifty-
four feet deeper into the heart of the mountain.
We had become quite expert at our
exercise, and had left off considering, amid
all these descents and traverses, what might
be our real position in the bowels of the earth.
Perhaps we might get down to Aladdin's garden
and find trees loaded with emerald and
ruby fruits. It was quite possible, for there
was something very cabalistic, very strong of
enchantment in the word Konhauserankehrschachtricht,
the name given to the portion
of the mine which we were then descending.
Konhauser-return-shaft is, I think, however,
about the meaning of that compound word.

So far I had felt nothing like real cold,
although I had been promised a wintry
atmosphere. Possibly with a miner's dress
over my ordinary clothing, and with plenty
of exercise, there was enough to counteract
the effects of the chill air. But our eyes began
to ache at the uncertain light, and we all
straggled irregularly along the smooth cut
shaft level for another sixty feet, and so
reached the Konhauser-rolle, the fourth slide
we had encountered in our progress.

That cheered us up a little, as it shot us
down another one hundred and eight feet
perpendicular depth to the Soolererzeugungswerk-Konhauser
surely a place nearer than
ever to the magic regions of Abracadabra.
If not Aladdin's garden, something wonderful
ought surely by this time to have been
reached. I was alive to any sight or sound,
and was excited by the earnest whispering of
my fellow adventurers, and the careful directions
as to our progress given by the guides
and light-bearers.

With eager rapidity we flitted among the
black shadows of the cavern, till we reached
a winding flight of giant steps. We mounted
them with desperate excitement, and at the
summit halted, for we felt that there was
space before our faces, and had been told that
those stairs led to a mid-mountain lake, nine
hundred and sixty feet below the mountain's
top; two hundred and forty feet above its
base. Presently, through the darkness, we
perceived at an apparently interminable
distance a few dots of light, that shed no lustre,
and could help us in no way to pierce the
pitchy gloom of the great cavern. The lights
were not interminably distant, for they were
upon the other shore, and this gnome lake
is but a mere drop of water in the mountain
mass, its length being three hundred and
thirty, and its breadth one hundred and
sixty feet.

Our guides lighted more candles, and we
began to see their rays reflected from the
water; we could hear too the dull splashing
of the boat, which we could not see, as old
Charon slowly ferried to our shore. More lights
were used; they flashed and flickered from
the opposite ferry station, and we began to
have an indistinct sense of a spangled dome,
and of an undulating surface of thick, black
water, through which the coming boat loomed
darkly. More candles were lighted on both
sides of the Konhauser lake, a very Styx,
defying all the illuminating force of candles,
dead and dark in its dim cave, even the limits
of which all our lights did not serve to define.
The boat reached the place of embarcation,
and we, wandering ghosts, half walked and
were half carried into its broad clumsy hulk,
and took each his allotted seat in ghostly

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