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Brothers Of Pity
by [?]

“Who dug his grave?”

* * * * *

“Who made his shroud?”
“I,” said the Beetle,
“With my thread and needle,
I made his shroud.”–Death of Cock Robin.

It must be much easier to play at things when there are more of you than when there is only one.

There is only one of me, and Nurse does not care about playing at things. Sometimes I try to persuade her; but if she is in a good temper she says she has got a bone in her leg, and if she isn’t she says that when little boys can’t amuse themselves it’s a sure and certain sign they’ve got “the worrits,” and the sooner they are put to bed with a Gregory’s powder “the better for themselves and every one else.”

Godfather Gilpin can play delightfully when he has time, and he believes in fancy things, only he is so very busy with his books. But even when he is reading he will let you put him in the game. He doesn’t mind pretending to be a fancy person if he hasn’t to do anything, and if I do speak to him he always remembers who he is. That is why I like playing in his study better than in the nursery. And Nurse always says “He’s safe enough, with the old gentleman,” so I’m allowed to go there as much as I like.

Godfather Gilpin lets me play with the books, because I always take care of them. Besides, there is nothing else to play with, except the window-curtains, for the chairs are always full. So I sit on the floor, and sometimes I build with the books (particularly Stonehenge), and sometimes I make people of them, and call them by the names on their backs, and the ones in other languages we call foreigners, and Godfather Gilpin tells me what countries they belong to. And sometimes I lie on my face and read (for I could read when I was four years old), and Godfather Gilpin tells me the hard words. The only rule he makes is, that I must get all the books out of one shelf, so that they are easily put away again. I may have any shelf I like, but I must not mix the shelves up.

I always took care of the books, and never had any accident with any of them till the day I dropped Jeremy Taylor’s Sermons. It made me very miserable, because I knew that Godfather Gilpin could never trust me so much again.

However, if it had not happened, I should not have known anything about the Brothers of Pity; so, perhaps (as Mrs. James, Godfather Gilpin’s house-keeper, says), “All’s for the best,” and “It’s an ill wind that blows nobody good.”

It happened on a Sunday, I remember, and it was the day after the day on which I had had the shelf in which all the books were alike. They were all foreigners–Italians–and all their names were Goldoni, and there were forty-seven of them, and they were all in white and gold. I could not read any of them, but there were lots of pictures, only I did not know what the stories were about. So next day, when Godfather Gilpin gave me leave to play a Sunday game with the books, I thought I would have English ones, and big ones, for a change, for the Goldonis were rather small.

We played at church, and I was the parson, and Godfather Gilpin was the old gentleman who sits in the big pew with the knocker, and goes to sleep (because he wanted to go to sleep), and the books were the congregation. They were all big, but some of them were fat, and some of them were thin, like real people–not like the Goldonis, which were all alike.