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Days Off
by [?]

“Probably not,” I answered, “but that is because I should be selfish enough to find a pleasure of my own in his happiness. I should like to take a day off with him, now and then, and his gladness would increase my enjoyment. There is no morality in that. It is simply natural. We are all made that way.”

“Well,” said my Uncle Peter, “if we are made that way we must take it into account in our philosophy of life. The fact that it is natural is not a sufficient reason for concluding that it is bad. There is an old and wonderful book which describes the creation of the world in poetic language; and when I read that description it makes me feel sure that something like this was purposely woven into the very web of life. After the six mystical days of making things and putting things in order, says this beautiful old book, the Person who had been doing it all took a day to Himself, in which He ‘rested from all the things that He had created and made,’ and looked at them, and saw how good they were. His work was not ended, of course, for it has been going on ever since, and will go on for ages of ages. But in the midst of it all it seemed right to Him to take a divine day off. And His example is commended to us for imitation because we are made in His likeness and have the same desire to enjoy as well as to create.

“Do you remember what the Wisest of all Masters said to his disciples when they were outworn by the weight of their work and the pressure of the crowd upon them? ‘Come ye yourselves apart into a lonely place, and rest awhile.’ He would never have bidden them do that, unless it had been a part of their duty to get away from their task for a little. He knew what was in man, more deeply than any one else had ever known; and so he invited his friends out among the green hills and beside the quiet waters of Galilee to the strengthening repose and the restoring joy which are only to be found in real days off.”

My Uncle Peter’s voice had grown very deep and gentle while he was saying these things. He sat looking far away into the rosy heart of the fire, where the bright blaze had burned itself out, and the delicate flamelets of blue and violet were playing over the glowing, crumbling logs. It seemed as if he had forgotten where we were, and gone a-wandering into some distant region of memories and dreams. I almost doubted whether to call him back; the silence was so full of comfortable and friendly intercourse.

“Well,” said I, after a while, “you are an incorrigible moralist, but certainly a most unconventional one. The orthodox would never accept your philosophy. They would call you a hedonist, or something equally dreadful.”

“Let them,” he said, placidly.

“But tell me”: I asked, “you and I have many pleasant and grateful memories, little pictures and stories, which seem like chapters in the history of this doubtful idea of yours: suppose that I should write some of them down, purely in a descriptive and narrative way, without committing myself to any opinion as to their morality; and suppose that a few of your opinions and prejudices, briefly expressed, were interspersed in the form of chapters to be skipped: would a book like that symbolize and illustrate the true inwardness of the day off? How would it do to make such a book?”

“It would do,” he answered, “provided you wanted to do it, and provided you did not try to prove anything, or convince anybody, or convey any profitable instruction.”

“But would any one read it?” I asked. “What do you think?”

“I think,” said he, stretching his arms over his head as he rose and turned towards his den to plunge into a long evening’s work, “I reckon, and calculate, and fancy, and guess that a few people, a very few, might browse through such a book in their days off.”