The visit to the salt mine we had planned for the next day. It was necessarily put off. Two of us were not on speaking terms with Jimmie,—Bee and I,—while Mrs. Jimmie, from driving back to the hotel in her wet clothes, had a slight attack of her strange trouble, croup. Poor dear Mrs. Jimmie! However, Jimmie’s repentance was so deep and sincere, he was so thoroughly scared by the extent of the calamity, so deeply sorry for our ruined clothes, apart from his anxiety over his wife, that we finally forgave him and took him into our favour again, to escape his remorseful attentions to us. So one day late, but on a better day, we took a fine large carriage, having previously tested the springs, and started for the salt mines. A description of that drive is almost impossible. To be sure, it was hot, dusty, and long. Before we got to the first wayside inn we were ravenous, and Jimmie’s thirst could be indicated only by capital letters. But winding in and out among farmhouses with flower gardens of hollyhocks, poppies, and roses; passing now a wayside shrine with the crucifixion exploited in heroic size; houses and barns and stables all under one roof; and now curiously painted doors peculiar to Bavarian houses; the country inns with their wooden benches and deal tables spread under the shade of the trees; parties of pedestrians, members of Alpine clubs, taking their vacations by tramping through this wonderful district; the sloping hills over and around which the road winds; the blues and greens and shadows of the more distant mountains, all combine to make this road from Salzburg to the salt mines one of the most interesting to be found in all Germany.
Never did small cheese sandwiches and little German sausages taste so delicious as at our first stop on our way to the salt mines. Jimmie said never was anything to drink so long in coming. Near us sat eight members of a Mannerchor, whose first act was to unsling a long curved horn capable of holding a gallon. This was filled with beer, and formed a loving-cup. Afterward, at the request of the landlord, and evidently to their great gratification, these men regaled us with songs, all sung with exceeding great earnestness, little regard to tune, and great carelessness as to pitch; but, if one may judge from their smiling and streaming countenances, the music had proved perfectly satisfactory to the singers themselves. Another drive, and soon we were at the mouth of the salt mine. We had learned previously that the better way would be to go as a private party and pay a small fee, as otherwise we would find ourselves in as great a crowd as on a free day at a museum. If I remember rightly, four o’clock marks the free hour. It had commenced to rain a little,—a fine, thin mountain shower,—but the carriage was closed up, the horses led away to be rested, and we three women pushed our way through the crowd of summer tourists waiting for the free hour to strike in the courtyard, and found ourselves in a room in which women were being arrayed in the salt mine costume. This costume is so absurd that it requires a specific description.