180 THE METAL PIG
towards heaven. The prophets of mind soar upwards towards heaven, like Elias of old.
To the right, in the aisle of the church, every statue on the richly carved sarcophagi seemed endowed with life. Here stood Michael Angelo, there Dante with the laurel wreath round his brow, Alfieri and Machiavelli; for here the great men, the pride of Italy, rest side by side. It is a glorious church, far more beautiful than the marble cathedral of Florence, though not so large.
It seemed as if the marble vestments stirred, as if the great forms raised their heads higher and looked up, amid song and music, to the bright altar glowing with colour, where the white-clad boys swing the golden censers ; and the strong fragrance streamed out of the church into the open square.
The boy stretched forth his hand towards the gleaming light, and in a moment the Metal Pig resumed its headlong career : he was obliged to cling tightly; and the wind whistled about his ears ; he heard the church door creak on its hinges as it closed ; but at the same moment his senses seemed to desert him, he felt a cold shudder pass over him, and awoke.
It was morning, and he was still sitting on the Metal Pig, which stood where it always stood on the Porta Rossa, and he had slipped half off its back.
Pear and trembling filled the soul of the boy at the thought of her whom he called mother, and who had yesterday sent him forth to bring money ; for he had none, and was hungry and thirsty. Once more he clasped his arms round the neck of his metal horse, kissed its lips, and nodded farewell to it. Then he wandered away into one of the narrowest streets, where there was scarcely room for a laden ass. A great iron-clamped door stood ajar ; he passed through it, and climbed up a brick stair with dirty walls and a rope for a balustrade, till he came to an open gallery hung with rags ; from here a flight of stairs led down into the court, where there was a fountain, and great iron wires led up to the different stories, and many water-buckets hung side by side, and at times the roller creaked, and one of the buckets would dance into the air, swaying so that the water splashed out of it down