The Father And His Daughter

A little girl was given so many picture books on her seventh birthday that her father, who should have run his office and let her mother run the home, thought his daughter should give one or two of her new books to a little neighbor boy named Robert, who had dropped in, more by design than by chance.

Now, taking books, or anything else, from a little girl is like taking arms from an Arab, or candy from a baby, but the father of the little girl had his way and Robert got two of her books. “After all, that leaves you with nine,” said the father, who thought he was a philosopher and a child psychologist, and couldn’t shut his big fatuous mouth on the subject.

A few weeks later, the father went to his library to look up “father” in the Oxford English Dictionary, to feast his eyes on the praise of fatherhood through the centuries, but he couldn’t find volume F-G, and then he discovered that three others were missing, too—A-B, L-M, and V-Z. He began a probe of his household, and soon learned what had become of the four missing volumes.

“A man came to the door this morning,” said his little daughter, “and he didn’t know how to get from here to Torrington, or from Torrington to Winsted, and he was a nice man, much nicer than Robert, and so I gave him four of your books. After all, there are thirteen volumes in the Oxford English Dictionary, and that leaves you nine.”

MORAL: This truth has been known from here to Menander: what’s sauce for the gosling’s not sauce for the gander.

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