THE METAL PIG 179
Saviour descending into hell. But these are not the damned whom the spectator sees around him, they are the heathens. The Florentine Angiolo Bronzino painted this picture. Most beautiful is the expression on the faces of the children,—the full confidence that they will get to heaven : two little beings are already embracing, and one little one stretches out his hand towards another who stands below him, and points to himself as if he were saying, ' I am going to heaven ! ' The older people stand uncertain, hoping, or bowing in humble adoration before the Lord Jesus. The boy's eyes rested longer on this picture than on any other. The Metal Pig stood still before it. A low sigh was heard : did it come from the picture or from the animal ? The boy lifted up his hands towards the smiling children ; then the Pig ran away with him, away through the open vestibule.
1 Thanks and blessings to you, you dear thing ! ' said the little boy, and caressed the Metal Pig, as it sprang down the steps with him.
I Thanks and blessings to yourself,' replied the Metal Pig. ' I have helped you, and you have helped me, for only with an innocent child on my back do I receive power to run ! Yes, you see, I may even step into the rays of the lamp in front of the picture of the Madonna, I can carry you everywhere, only I may not go into the church. But from without, when you are with me, I may look in through the open door. Do not get down from my back ; if you do so, I shall lie dead as you see me in the daytime at the Porta Bossa.'
II will stay with you, my dear creature ! ' cried the child. So they went in hot haste through the streets of Florence,
out into the place before the church of Santa Croce. The folding doors flew open, and lights gleamed out from the altar through the church into the deserted square.
A wonderful blaze of light streamed forth from a monument in the left aisle, and a thousand moving stars seemed to form a glory round it. A coat of arms shone upon the grave, a red ladder in a blue field seemed to glow like fire. It was the grave of Galileo. The monument is unadorned, but the red ladder is a significant emblem, as if it were that of art, for in art the way always leads up a burning ladder,