Drama set in Milan in 1858. Dr. Antonio Ansperti from Como, implicated in the clandestine activities of the Young Italy revolutionary movement, is arrested by the Austrian authorities. After a trial he is sentenced to death and executed, in spite of efforts by his countryman Count Lamberti to intervene on his behalf with the Governor of Milan. The martyr entrusts Lamberti with the task of continuing his work, and the Count decides that this can best be achieved by accepting from the Governor a position of high office. The move is misinterpreted by his wife Countess Anna, a fervent patriot, and she distances herself from her husband. She forms a strong attachment to the Governor's young assistant, an exiled Pole, and decides to elope with him. But Ansperti's widow, Giuditta, realizing that the Countess has misunderstood the situation, persuades her to cancel her plans. As a reprisal for his disappointment the assistant denounces the Count to the authorities. In an effort to suppress the scandal the Governor offers Count Lamberti safe passage to Turin. Lamberti pretends to accept, but then hands over the safe passage to his nephew Giacomino. Seriously compromised, the Count gives himself up to the police.
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