In "The Parliament of Rooks" (The Sandman #40), Abel tells a toddler Daniel Hall a "children's story" about how he and Cain came to live in the Dreaming (pages 18-20). In the story, Dream and his sister Death appear similarly to Pop Vinyl characters, and it's really quite adorable.
Cain objects to this portrayal of the eldest Endless, but Abel's rebuttal is a little unclear to me:
So I wonder about the veracity of Abel's portrayal of the Endless. Cain thinks this is a gross oversimplification, but Abel says "this is my story." I think there are three possibilities:
- Abel knows that Cain is right, and changes the story and imagery for baby Daniel's benefit. After all, he does change the end of the story; it's clear by now that in Gaiman's world, Cain and Abel do not live "happily ever after," as Abel finishes the story. He may sanitize other details of the story for the child's benefit.
- Abel thinks he's right, because he is. We know that the Endless appear differently to different people (see e.g. this Lit.SE answer).
- Abel thinks he's right, but he isn't. Cain considers Abel simpleminded, constantly calling him any of several derogatory names like "powderbrain" or "numbskull." There isn't much to analyze, but Abel appears to be of normal intelligence, even if he is much softer (perhaps more naive) than his brother. If he honestly believes that he and his brother lived happily ever after1, then he may be an unreliable narrator.
Which of these three is it? Was Morpheus actually "Li'l Morpheus" for a time? (Is there another possibility I haven't considered?)
1: I don't think it's likely that he doesn't understand that his fraternal relationship is severely abusive and dysfunctional, although I admit the possibility. I submit that he doesn't intend the living "happily ever after" as part of his story, making it more of a hinted plea to his brother, because the point of view shifts from "way back when" back to the present time, when Abel is speaking to Daniel. On the other hand, he doesn't stutter during that part; Matthew notes on the next page that the stutter disappears when Abel tells stories, making it possible that that sentence is part of the story. I'm not really sure how to interpret that part.