One New Year’s Eve, Frederic Ozanam was telling his wife Amélie about a poor family who had known better days, but were now reduced to such shifts that they had been compelled to pledge a handsome chest of drawers, the last remnant that remained to them of former comfort. He said he was greatly tempted to go and redeem it and send it to them for their New Year’s gift. His Amelie was seldom inclined to check his generous impulses, but she felt it right to show certain prudential reasons for his not following this one. He saw the force of them and yielded.
The day was spent pleasantly in paying and receiving friendly and official visits, according to the custom of Paris; but when evening came, and his little girl was showing him the profusion of toys and chocolates that had poured in on her since morning, he turned away with a sigh and sat silent and absent. Madame Ozanam enquired anxiously if anything had occurred to distress him. He confessed that the thought of those poor people without their chest of drawers was weighing on him, and the sight of all this money wasted on Marie’s pleasure smote him like a reproach. Amelie entreated him to go and satisfy the prompting of his heart. He hurried out, and in a short time returned radiantly happy.
Taken from Kathleen O’Meara, “Frederic Ozanam, professor at the Sorbonne; his life and works”, Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas, 1876, chapter XVI.
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