Miss Why

There was once a little girl whose name we will call Nancy. She had a kind father and a kind mother, who both loved her very much, but not any more, I suppose, than hundreds of other fathers and mothers love their little children. Nancy was generally a good girl; that is, she obeyed her parents, was kind to those around her, and, I think, tried also to do her duty to God; for this, her parents taught her, was the principal thing.

Still Nancy had some faults, and I am going to tell you now about one of them.

When her mother would say, (as she often had to say,) “Nancy you must not run out at the front door without permission,” or, “You must not help yourself at the tea table,” then Nancy would almost always say, “Why?”

It so happened, one evening after her father had come in from the store, that Nancy several times answered her mother with this little word, just as I have told you above. Her father sat before the grate very silently, looking at the burning coals, until at last he said to his wife, – “Three times since I have been sitting here has our dear little daughter answered you with that ugly little word which I have so often told her about. Now, I believe I have thought of a plan which will make her remember better.”

“What is it?” said her mother, while Nancy stood by, looking very anxiously in her father’ s face, and seeming to feel ashamed too; for she did not think enough, before she used it, to remember that it was wrong.

This was the fault; and this was what her father wished to correct.

So he answered “I think we will have to call her ‘Miss Why.'”

Her mother smiled, and said she could think of no better plan, while Nancy put her arms around her father’ s neck and begged him not to do so, but to try her once more.

This he was very willing to do and promised that not until she had used the word again would he call her Miss Why. About two hours after this, while the little canary-bird, whose cage hung up in the corner, was fast asleep and had its feathers pushed out so as to look like a ball, and just as Nancy had turned over a leaf in a fresh Sunday School book, her mother said to her – “My dear, it is time to go to bed; now put up your book and kiss father and mother goodnight, like a good girl.”

“But mother,” said Nancy, looking up, “I am not a bit sleepy.”

“It is time, my dear,” answered her mother; “and do not let me speak again.”

“But, mother, why?” said Nancy.

Her father , at this, raised his eyes from the newspaper that he had been reading and said, “Miss Why!” Nancy blushed, and, without another word, ran quickly to kiss her father and mother, and was off to bed in a moment; and, although she has sometimes forgotten since, yet it is very seldom now that her father has to call her by her new name, which she does not like, but which she is never angry at; for when he does call her by it he does it in such a way that she can see it is done in love.

We have no better friends than those who tell us of our faults and help us to correct them.

Collection: African American Newspapers
Publication: The Christian Recorder
Date: April 15, 1875
Title: Miss Why
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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