This is a scene from my cozy cat mystery novel, Black Cat and the Secret in Dewey’s Diary, where Kimberlee goes to Austria in search of a lost treasure in gold coins. I visited Austria in 1987 and experienced some unusual occurrences. In this story, I was able to have Kimberlee experience these and other unusual events in this otherwise fictional story. The experiences described in this scene in Salzburg are from my own experience. The watercolor described is in my hallway still, a reminder of this wonderful day.
As Kimberlee passed through the countryside and the forests, the terrain varied and the road rose and fell. Around every corner, another picture post card vista appeared. With no particular agenda, she stopped frequently to take a photograph.
In some green meadows, the only sound was the tinkling of shiny brass bells, hanging from the collars of a flock of sheep or a small group of black and white cows. In other places, the gentle terrain rose up into a fine mist clinging to the hillside. Hidden in the distant mist, tinkling bells confirmed grazing animals, unaware that their bells could produce such a stirring in the heart of an unseen tourist passing on a nearby road.
The vineyards on the hills and meadows became fewer as Kimberlee approached Salzburg, an ancient city where Mozart first played his harpsicord and wrote melodies. Hundreds of years later, people still know his name and enjoy his music.
Near the center of town, she parked the car and began to walk. Ancient ivy-covered buildings with sagging tile roofs covered the courtyards along the sidewalk. Church spires peaked out above red tile rooftops of nearby houses. She passed a church with dates carved into the walls reading 1200-1400. How incredible! One church was said to be 1000 years old!
Violin music drew her toward the town square where a street musician stood on the steps of an ancient church, playing Ave Maria. Pigeons flew overhead from rooftop to rooftop, appearing to be as mesmerized by the music as the cluster of tourists gathered on the steps.
Kimberlee paused to listen as the haunting melody echoed around the square. It touched her heart as it carried her away from this world and back into another time. It was easy to imagine the cobbled streets filled with horse-drawn carts carrying a princess and her ladies in waiting, or a knight in shining armor, after a joust with a dragon.
The musician drew his bow across the strings and as he lowered his hand, the final note hung in the air. The tourists stood spellbound and silent. And then the spell was broken and the more generous visitors tossed money into the violin case at his feet.
Kimberlee opened her purse. “That was absolutely lovely! Thank you.” She put money into his case and wandered on.
She ran to catch a tram climbing to the top of the hill where a medieval castle overlooked the city, a cold and barren place with steps everywhere. The rooms were filled with armor, ancient guns, javelins, chains and torture devices. From the balconies, looking down on the valley was like peeking into the pages of a storybook. Rainy mists on the distant mountains beckoned hikers upward into the cold crisp air. Off to the left, rivers, towers, cathedrals, graveyards, and church spires. Off to the right, cobble-stone streets with horse-drawn carriages, sidewalk cafes, musicians, and archways, where street vendors hawked their wares on the street corners.
Returning to the city below, Kimberlee came upon a street artist sitting with his back against the wall, his easel and backpack by his side. The picture drying on his easel was a watercolor of the nearby ancient church steps where the musician had just played his stirring aria. Unable to resist the desire to memorialize the moment, she purchased the picture. She planned to have it framed and hang it near her bedroom, a constant reminder of the musician and his poignant melody.
What a magical city! After a good meal and a very strong cup of coffee, Kimberlee returned to her car. She must locate a pension where she might spend the night. Tomorrow, she would continue to follow the clues from the WWII soldier’s diary, in hopes that they might lead to the gold coins, still hidden so many years later.
Black Cat and the Secret in Dewey’s Diary is available at Amazon (e-book) for $3.99. Contact me directly for an autographed paperback version. ($15.00 – Free shipping within in USA)