184 THE METAL PIG
' Go home now,' said the painter, when the boy had stood until the other had set up his easel.
1 May I see you paint % ' asked the boy. ' May I see you put the picture upon this white canvas ? '
' I am not going to paint yet,' replied the man ; and he brought out a piece of black crayon. His hand moved quickly; his eye measured the great picture, and though nothing appeared but a thin line, the figure of the Saviour stood there, as in the coloured picture.
' Why don't you go ? ' said the painter.
And the boy wandered home silently, and seated himself on the table and learned to sew gloves.
But all day long his thoughts were in the picture gallery; and so it came that he pricked his fingers, and was awkward; but he did not tease Bellissima. When evening came, and when the house door stood open, he crept out: it was cold but starlight, a bright beautiful evening. Away he went through the already deserted streets, and soon came to the Metal Pig. He bent down on it, kissed its shining mouth, and seated himself on its back.
' You happy creature !' he said ; ' how I have longed for you ! We must take a ride to-night.'
The Metal Pig lay motionless, and the fresh stream gushed forth from its mouth. The little boy sat astride on its back: then something tugged at his clothes. He looked down, and there was Bellissima—little smooth-shaven Bellissima—the dog had crept out of the house along with him, and had followed him without his noticing it. Bellissima barked as if she would have said, ' Here am I too : why are you sitting there ? ' A fiery dragon could not have terrified the boy so much as did the little dog in this place. Bellissima in the street, and not dressed, as the old lady called it! What would be the end of it ? The dog never came out in winter, except attired in a little lamb-skin, which had been cut out and made into a coat for him ; it was made to fasten with a red ribbon round the little dog's neck and body, and was adorned with bows and with bells. The dog looked almost like a little kid, when in winter he got permission to patter out with his mistress. Bellissima was outside, and not dressed I what would be the end of it ? All his fancies were put to flight;