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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous Sarah Knowles Bolton

Margaret Fuller Ossoli

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To her mother, Margaret wrote, though she did not tell her secret, "I have not been so happy since I was a child, as during the last six weeks."

But days of anxiety soon came, with all the horrors of war. Ossoli was constantly exposed to death, in that dreadful siege of Rome. Then Rome fell, and with it the hopes of Ossoli and his wife. There would be neither fortune nor home for a Liberal now--only exile. Very sadly Margaret said goodbye to the soldiers in the hospitals, brave fellows whom she honored, who in the midst of death itself, would cry "Viva l' Italia!"

But before leaving Rome, a day's journey must be made to Rieta, at the foot of the Umbrian Apennines. And for what? The most precious thing of Margaret's life was there,--her baby. The fair child, with blue eyes and light hair like her own, had already been named by the people in the house, Angelino, from his beauty. She had always been fond of children. Emerson's Waldo, for whom Threnody was written was an especial favorite; then "Pickie," Mr. Greeley's beautiful boy, and now a new joy had come into her heart, a child of her own. She wrote to her mother: "In him I find satisfaction, for the first time, to the deep wants of my heart. Nothing but a child can take the worst bitterness out of life, and break the spell of loneliness. I shall not be alone in other worlds, whenever Eternity may call me.... I wake in the night,--I look at him. He is so beautiful and good, I could die for him!"

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When Ossoli and Margaret reached Rieta, what was their horror to find their child worn to a skeleton, half starved through the falsity of a nurse. For four weeks the distressed parents coaxed him back to life, till the sweet beauty of the rounded face came again, and then they carried him to Florence, where, despite poverty and exile, they were happy.

"In the morning," she says, "as soon as dressed, he signs to come into our room; then draws our curtain with his little dimpled hand, kisses me rather violently, and pats my face.... I feel so refreshed by his young life, and Ossoli diffuses such a power and sweetness over every day, that I cannot endure to think yet of our future.... It is very sad we have no money, we could be so quietly happy a while. I rejoice in all Ossoli did; but the results, in this our earthly state, are disastrous, especially as my strength is now so impaired. This much I hope--in life or death, to be no more separated from Angelino."

Margaret's friends now urged her return to America. She had nearly finished a history of Rome in this trying time, 1848, and could better attend to its publication in this country. Ossoli, though coming to a land of strangers, could find something to help, support the family.

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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous
Sarah Knowles Bolton

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