THE METAL PIG
In the city of Florence, not far from the Piazza del Granduca, there runs a little cross-street, I think it is called Porta Rossa. In this street, in front of a kind of market hall where vegetables are sold, there lies a Pig artistically fashioned of metal. The fresh clear water pours from the snout of the creature, which has become a blackish-green from age ; only the snout shines as if it had been polished, and indeed it has been, by many hundreds of children and poor people, who seize it with their hands, and place their mouths close to the mouth of the animal, to drink. It is a perfect picture to see the well-shaped creature clasped by a half-naked boy, who lays his red lips against its snout.
Every one who comes to Florence can easily find the place ; he need only ask the first beggar he meets for the Metal Pig, and he will find it.
It was late on a winter evening. The mountains were covered with snow ; but the moon shone, and moonlight in Italy is just as good as the light of a murky Northern winter's day ; nay, it is better, for the air shines and lifts us up, while in the North the cold grey leaden covering seems to press us downwards to the earth—the cold damp earth, which will some day press down our coffin.
In the Grand Duke's palace garden, under a roof of pines, where a thousand roses bloom in winter, a little ragged boy had been sitting all day long, a boy who might serve as a type of Italy, pretty and smiling, and yet suffering. He was hungry and thirsty, but no one gave him anything ; and when it became dark, and the garden was to be closed, the porter turned him out. Long he stood musing on the bridge that spans the Arno, and looked at the stars, whose light glittered in the water between him and the splendid marble bridge.
He took the way towards the Metal Pig, half knelt down, clasped his arms round it, put his mouth against