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A pert little hussey, whose name was Cleopatra, was continually teasing and commanding her poor brother. "So, you will not do what I bid you, Mr. Obstinacy?" she would often say to him: "Come, come, Sir, obey, or it shall be worse for you."
If Cleopatra's word might be taken for it, her brother did every thing wrong; but, on the contrary, whatever she thought of doing was the masterpiece of reason and sound sense. If he proposed any kind of diversion, she was [Pg 194]sure to consider it as dull and insipid; but it often happened, that she would herself the next day recommend the same thing, and, having forgotten what she had said of it before, consider it as the most lively and entertaining.
Her brother was obliged to submit to her unaccountable whims and fancies, or else endure the most disagreeable lectures a little female tongue could utter. If ever he presumed to be so hardy as to reason with her on her strange conduct, instant destruction to his playthings were the inevitable consequence of it.
Her parents saw with regret this strange and tyrannical disposition of their daughter, and in vain did every thing they could think of to break her of it. Her mother, in particular, continually enforced on her mind, that such children never procured the esteem of others; and that a girl, who set up her own opinion against that of every one else, would soon become intolerable and insupportable to all her acquaintance. This prudent advice, however, made no impression on her stubborn heart; and her brother, wearied out by her caprice and tyranny, began to have very little affection for her. It one day happened that a gentleman of a free and open temper, dined at their [Pg 195]house. He could not help observing with what a haughty air she treated her poor brother, and, indeed, every other person in the room. At first, the rules of politeness kept him from saying any thing; but at last, tired out with her impertinence, he began addressing his discourse to her mamma in the following manner:
"I was lately in France, and, as I was fond of being present at the soldiers' exercises, I used to go as often as I could, to see their manúuvres on the parade, nearly in the same manner as they do here at St. James's. Among the soldiers there were many I observed with whiskers, which gave them a very fierce and soldier-like look. Now, had I a child like your Cleopatra, I would instantly give her a soldier's uniform, and put her on a pair of whiskers, when she might, with rather more propriety than at present, act the part of a commander."
Cleopatra heard this, and stood covered with confusion; she could not help blushing, and was unable to conceal her tears. However, this reproach perfectly reformed her, and she became sensible how unbecoming was a tyrannizing temper. It has been observed, that to be sensible of our errors is half the work of reformation. [Pg 196]So it happened with Cleopatra, who with the assistance of her mother's prudent counsels, became an amiable girl.
Her reformation was a credit to her; and it is much to be wished that all young ladies, who take no pains to conquer their passions, would at last imitate Cleopatra, and wish to avoid being told, that a soldier's dress and a pair of whiskers would better become them than nice cambric frocks and silk slips. Had Cleopatra attended to the advice of her parents, and not have imagined that greatness consists in impertinence, she would have been happy much sooner than she was.