Duty and Pleasure by Unknown
"Duty first, and pleasure afterward," wrote Amy Leslie in her copy-book
one fine morning.
Line after line she penned, making many a mistake, for her thoughts were
far away. At last her mother, who was sitting near her, said, "Amy, this
is the third time you have spelled pleasure without a 'p,' and left out
the 'f' in afterward. Put down your pen and tell me what you are
thinking about; for I am sure it is not of your copy."
"I was only thinking," replied Amy, "how glad I should be if my copy
said, 'Pleasure first—duty afterward.' It is very hard always to have
the disagreeable part first. I wish I could have one whole week with no
duties at all! How I should enjoy myself!"
Mrs. Leslie remained silent for a moment; then she said, while a quiet
smile played round her lips, "Well, Amy, for once you shall have what
you want. For a whole week you may amuse yourself; no duties, mind, my
child,—none at all."
"There is no chance of my wanting any, I assure you, mama," said Amy,
joyfully; "I shall be so happy, you'll see!"
"Very well, then," said Mrs. Leslie; "you may begin to-morrow. To-day I
shall expect you to do as usual."
Amy said no more; she finished her copy, learned her lessons, then went
to the nursery to take charge of her little brother while the nurse was
busy with other work. Afterward there were socks to mend, and an errand
to run, and buttons to sew on to baby's shoes, and a letter to write.
And so the day passed, and the next morning dawned on our
pleasure-loving little friend.
"No duties" she said to herself, as she woke at seven, which was her
usual time for rising; "so I can lie in bed as long as I please." She
turned over, and as she could not sleep, began making plans for the day,
and thinking what a delightful time she would have. About half past nine
she came down stairs, to find her breakfast on the table; milk, toast,
and egg, all as cold as possible. "What a wretched breakfast!" she said,
as she took her seat.
"Well, dear," replied Mrs. Leslie, "your breakfast was ready at the
usual time, and of course is cold now."
Amy said no more. She ate with only half her usual appetite, and,
finishing in about five minutes put away her chair, and left the room.
As she went up stairs to fetch her hat, baby in the nursery stretched
his arms for her to take him; but she hurried past, and left the little
fellow crying with disappointment.
Soon she came down again, with a fairy book in one hand, and a box of
chocolate drops in the other. The sweets had been a present, but
hitherto her mother had allowed her to have only one or two daily; now,
however, she might do as she liked, and at present her idea of perfect
bliss was the combined charms of chocolate drops and fairy stories.
For about two hours she sat in the garden; then she grew tired, and a
little sick from eating too much chocolate, and was returning to the
house, when her pet kitten ran out to meet her. For a short time she
amused herself by playing with it, dressing it up in her pocket
handkerchief and carrying it like a baby; but Miss Pussy wearied of
this, and at last jumped out of her new dress and her mistress' arms,
leaving a scratch as a keepsake behind her.
Altogether, the morning was hardly a successful one, nor was the
afternoon much better. After dinner, one of Amy's little sisters tore
her dress, and was running to Amy to ask her to mend it; but Mrs. Leslie
"Don't go to your sister, my child, come to me;" and little Jessie,
wondering, let her mother darn the rent. Amy felt very uncomfortable,
for she knew that Mrs. Leslie's eyes were not strong, and were probably
aching with the effort of such fine work; but she shrank from offering
her services, and made her escape from the room as soon as she could.
In the evening she was about to draw her chair to the fire and read the
newspaper to Mr. Leslie, a duty of which she had always felt rather
proud; but her father gravely took the paper out of her hand, saying
quickly, "No, Amy, this is a duty; remember you are to amuse yourself
and do nothing else."
Amy's eyes filled with tears, and she ran up stairs to her own room. She
had no heart to read the fairy book, or to make clothes for her doll, or
to play with the kitten, or even to eat the rest of her chocolate drops.
"I shall never be able to bear another day of this," she said to
herself; "I thought it would be so delightful to have no duties, but
somehow my play does not seem half so good as it did before."
The next day brought no real pleasure and comfort. Listlessly Amy
wandered about, having no zest for any of her former amusements, and
feeling thoroughly unhappy. She began to long for the very duties which
had seemed so irksome to her; she could hardly keep from tears when she
saw others busy over lessons, or her mother doing work which had
formerly been hers.
At last her misery ended in a fit of crying, and shutting herself up in
her own room, she gave way to it. Sob followed sob so quickly that she
did not hear her door open, until her mother's arms were round her, and
her hot, aching head was pillowed on her mother's shoulder. Not a word
passed between them for a few minutes; then Amy sobbed out, "O mother!
mother! the copy was quite right, 'Duty first, and pleasure afterward;'
for without duty there is no pleasure at all."