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silence. There was something really terrible
in it all ; in the slow funereal pace at which we
floated across the subterranean lake ; in the
dead quiet among us, only interrupted by the
slow plunge of the oar into the sickly waters.
In spite of all the lights that had been kindled
we were still in a thick vapour of darkness, and
could form but a dreamy notion of the beauty
and the grandeur of the crystal dome within
which we men from the upper earth were hidden
from our fellows. The lights were flared
aloft as we crept sluggishly across the lake, and
now and then were flashed back from a hanging
stalactite, but that was all. The misty darkness
about us brought to the fancy at the
same time fearful images, and none of us were
sorry when we reached the other shore in
safety. There a rich glow of light awaited
us, and there we were told a famous tale
about the last Arch-ducal visit to these salt
mines, when some thousands of lighted tapers
glittered and flashed about him, and exhibited
the vaulted roof and spangled lake in all their
beauty. As we were not Archdukes, we had
our Hades lighted only by a pound of short

We left the lake behind us, and then,
traversing a further distance of seventy feet
along the Wehrschachtricht, arrived at the
mouth of the Konhauser Stiege. Another
rapid descent of forty-five feet at an angle of
fifty degrees, and we then reached
Rupertschachtricht, a long cavern of the extent of
five hundred and sixty feet, through which
we toiled with a growing sense of weariness.
We had now come to the top of the last and
longest "slide" in the whole Dürrnberg. It
is called the Wolfdietrichberg-rolle, and
is four hundred and sixty-eight feet long,
carrying us two hundred and forty feet lower
down into the mountain. We went down this
"slide" with the alacrity of school-boys, one
after another keeping the pot boiling, and all
regulating our movements with great
circumspection, for we knew that we had far to
go and we could never see more than a few
yards before us.

Having gained the ground beneath in
safety, our attention was drawn to a fresh
water well or spring, sunk in this spot at great
cost by order of the Archduke, and blessed
among miners. Amid all the stone and salt
and brine, a gush of pure fresh water at our
feet was very welcome to us all. The well
was sunk, however, to get water that was
necessary for the mining operations. We did
not see any of those operations underground,
for they are not exhibited; the show-trip
underground is only among the ventilating
shafts and galleries. Through the dark openings
by which we had passed, we should have
found our way (had we been permitted) to the
miners. I have seen them working in the
Tyrol, and their labours are extremely simple.
Some of the rock-salt is quarried in transparent
crystals, that undergo only the process of
crushing before they are sent into the market
as an article of commerce. Very little of this
grain salt is seen in England, but on the
continent it may be found in some of the first
hotels, and on the table of most families. It
is cheaper than the loaf salt, and is known in
Germany under the title of salzkorn, and in
France, as selle de cuisine. In order to obtain
a finer grained and better salt, it is necessary
that the original salt-crystals should be
dissolved, and for this purpose parallel galleries
are run into the rock, and there is dug in each of
them a dyke or cistern. These dykes are then
flushed with water, which is allowed to remain
in them undisturbed for the space of from
five to twelve months, according to the
richness of the soil ; and, being then thoroughly
saturated with the salt that it has taken up,
the brine is drawn off through wooden pipes
from Hallein over hill and dale into the
evaporating pans.

We had traversed the last level, and had:
reached what is generally called the end of the
salt-mine; but we were still a long way distant
from the pure air and the sunshine. We had
travelled through seven galleries of an aggregate
length of nearly two miles; we had
floated across an earthy piece of water; had
followed one another down six slides, and
had penetrated to the depth of twelve
hundred feet into the substance of the mountain
limestone, gypsum, and marl. Having done
all this, there we were in the very heart of
the Dürrnberg, left by our guides, and
entrusted to the care of two lank lads with
haggard faces. We stood together in a spacious
cavern, poorly lighted by our candles; there
was a line of tram-rail running through the
middle of it, and we soon saw the carriage that
was to take us out of the mountain emerging
from a dark nook in the distance. It was a
truck with seats upon it, economically
arranged after the fashion of an Irish jaunting
car. The two lads were to be our horses, and
our way lay through a black hollow in one side
of the cavern, into which the tram-rail ran.

We took our seats, instructed to sit
perfectly still, and to restrain our legs and arms
from any straggling. There was no room to
spare in the shaft we were about to traverse.
Our car was run on to the tram-line, and the
two lads, with a sickly smile, and a broad
hint at their expected gratuity, began to pull,
and promised us a rapid journey. In another
minute, and we were whirring down an
incline with a rush and a rattle, through the
subterranean passage tunnelled into solid
limestone which runs to the outer edge of
the Dürrnberg. The length of this tunnel is
considerably more than an English mile.

The reverberation and the want of light
were nothing, but we were disagreeably
sensible of a cloud of fine stone dust, and
knew well that we should come out not only
stone deaf, but as white as millers. Clinging
to our seats with a cowardly instinct, down
we went through, a hurricane of sound and
dust. At length we were sensible of a