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 contact; but this influence must have been even extraordinary over the impulsive and ill-disciplined children of passion and of sorrow, among whom she was thrown in Italy. Her husband related to me once, with a most reverent enthusiasm, some stories of the good she had done in Rieti, during her residence there. The Spanish troops were quartered in that town, and the dissipated habits of the officers, as well as the excesses of the soldiery, kept the place in a constant irritation. Though overwhelmed with cares and anxieties; Madame Ossoli found time and collectedness of mind enough to interest herself in the distresses of the towns-people, and to pour the soothing oil of a wise sympathy upon their wounded and indignant feelings. On one occasion, as the Marchese told me, she undoubtedly saved the lives of a family in Rieti, by inducing them to pass over in silence an insult offered to one of them by an intoxicated Spanish soldier,—and, on another, she interfered between two brothers, maddened by passion, and threatening to stain the family hearth with the guilt of fratricide.1
1 The circumstances of this story, perhaps, deserve to be recorded. The brothers were two young men, the sons and the chief supports of Madame Ossoli's landlord at Rieti. They were both married,—the younger one to a beautiful girl, who had brought him no dowry, and who, in the opinion of her husband's family, had not shown a proper disposition to bear her share of the domestic burdens and duties. The bickerings and disputes which resulted from this state of affairs, on one unlucky day, took the form of an open and violent quarrel. The younger son, who was absent from home when the conflict began, returned to find it at its height, and was received by his wife with passionate tears, and by his relations with sharp recriminations. His brother, especially, took it upon himself to upbraid him, in the name of all his family, for bringing into their home-circle such a firebrand of discord. Charges and counter charges followed in rapid succession, and hasty words soon led to blows. From blows the appeal to the knife was swiftly made, and when Madame Ossoli, attracted by the unusual clamor, entered upon the scene of action, she found that blood had been already drawn, and that the younger brother was only restrained from following up the first assault by the united force of all the females, who hung about him, while the older brother, grasping a heavy billet of wood, and pale with rage, stood awaiting his antagonist. Passing through the group of weeping and terrified women, Madame Ossoli made her way up to the younger brother and, laying her hand upon his shoulder, asked him to put down his weapon and listen to her. It was in vain that he attempted to ignore her presence. Before the spell of her calm, firm, well-known voice, his fury melted away. She spoke to him again, and besought him to show himself a man, and to master his foolish and wicked rage. With a sudden impulse, he flung his knife upon the ground, turned to Madame Ossoli, clasped and kissed her hand, and then running towards his brother, the two met in a fraternal embrace, which brought the threatened tragedy to a joyful termination.
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