178 THE METAL PIG
They came into a long gallery where the boy had already been. The walls were adorned with pictures ; here stood statues and busts, all in the most charming light, as if it had been broad day; but the most beautiful of all was when the door of a side room opened : the little boy could remember the splendour that was there, but on this night everything shone in the most glorious colours.
Here stood a beautiful woman, as radiant in beauty as nature and the greatest master of sculpture could make her : she moved her graceful limbs, dolphins sprang at her feet, and immortality shone out of her eyes. The world calls her the Venus de Medici. By her side are statues in which the spirit of life had been breathed into the stone ; they are handsome unclothed men. One was sharpening a sword, and was called the Grinder; the Wrestling Gladiators formed another group ; and the sword was sharpened, and they strove for the goddess of beauty.
The boy was dazzled by all this pomp : the walls gleamed with bright colours, and everything was life and movement there. In twofold form was seen the image of Venus, the earthly Venus, full and glowing, as Titian had seen her. The pictures of two lovely women ; their beautiful unveiled limbs were stretched out on the soft cushions ; their bosoms heaved, and their heads moved, so that the rich locks fell down over the rounded shoulders, while their dark eyes uttered glowing thoughts. But not one of all the pictures dared to step quite out of its frame. The Goddess of Beauty herself, the Gladiators and the Grinder, remained in their places, for the glory that shone from the Madonna, Jesus, and St. John, restrained them. The holy pictures were pictures no longer, they were the Holy Ones themselves.
What splendour, what beauty shone from hall to hall! and the little boy saw everything plainly, for the Metal Pig went step by step through all this scene of magnificence. Each fresh sight effaced the last. One picture only fixed itself firmly in his soul, especially through the very happy children introduced into it; the little boy had once nodded to these in the daylight.
Many persons pass by this picture with indifference, and yet it contains a treasure of poetry. It represents the