THE METAL PIG 183
and dreamed of the splendid pictures and of the Metal Pig.
Father Guiseppe went out next morning : the poor child was not glad of this, foivhe knew that the object of the errand was to send him back to his mother. He wept, and kissed the merry little dog, and the woman nodded approvingly at both.
What news did Father Guiseppe bring home ? He spoke a great deal with his wife, and she nodded and stroked the boy's cheek.
' He is a capital lad ! ' said she. ' He may become an accomplished glove-maker, like you ; and look what delicate fingers he has ! Madonna intended him for a glove-maker.'
And the boy stayed in the house, and the woman herself taught him to sew : he ate well, slept well, and became merry, and began to tease Bellissima, as the little dog was called ; but the woman grew angry at this, and scolded and threatened him with her finger. This touched the boy's heart, and he sat thoughtful in his little chamber. This chamber looked upon the street, in which skins were dried ; there were thick bars of iron before his window. He could not sleep, for the Metal Pig was always present in his thoughts, and suddenly he heard outside a pit-pat. That must be the Pig ! He sprang to the window, but nothing was to be seen—it had passed by already.
1 Help the gentleman to carry his box of colours,' said the woman next morning to the boy, when their young neighbour the artist passed by, carrying a paint-box and a large rolled canvas.
The boy took the box, and followed the painter; they betook themselves to the gallery, and mounted the same staircase which he remembered well from the night when he had ridden on the Metal Pig. He recognized the statues and pictures, the beautiful marble Venus, and the Venus that lived in the picture; and again he saw the Madonna, and the Saviour, and St. John.
They stood still before the picture by Bronzino, in which Christ is descending into hell, and the children smiling around him in the sweet expectation of heaven. The poor child smiled too, for he felt as if his heaven were here.