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BEGINNING OP A NEW YEAR.
BY
TIIE AUTHOR OP “ SUNNY SIDE.”
NEW YORK:
ANSON D . S'. RANDOLPH,
683 BROADWAY.
ANDOVER: W. P. DRAPER.
1 853.


Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1852,
BY AUSTIN- PHELPS,
in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the District of
Massachusetts.
<72 33
0 ' gf
Press of W. P. Draper.


Cljr
SUgtl mr iljt tUgljt
“ There ! a woman’s work is never done,”
said Mrs. James ; “I thought, for once, I was
through; but just look at that lamp, now! it
will not burn, and I must go and spend half
an hour over it.”
“ Don’t you wish you had never been mar
ried?” said Mr. James, with a good-natured
laugh.
“ Yes” —rose to her lips, but was checked
by a glance at the group upon the floor, where
her husband was stretched out, and two little


6
THE ANGEL OVER
urchins with sparkling eyes and glowing cheeks,
were climbing and tumbling over him, as if they
found in this play the very essence of fun.
She did say, “ I should like the good, without
the evil, if I could have it.”
“ You have no evils to endure,” replied her
husband.
“ That is just all you gentlemen know about
it. What would you think, if you could not
get an uninterrupted half hour to yourself, from
morning till night ? I believe you would give
up trying to do anything.”
“ There is no need of that; all you want, is
system. If you arranged your work systemat
ically, you would find that you could command
your time.”
“ Well,” was the reply, “ all I wish is, that
you could just follow me around for one day,
and see what I have to do. If you could re-


THE RIGHT SHOULDER.
7
duce it all to system, I think you would show
yourself a genius.”
When the lamp was trimmed, the converse
tion was resumed. Mr. James had employed
the “ half hour,” in meditating on this subject.
“ Wife,” said he, as she came in, “ I have a
plan to propose to you, and I wish you to prom
ise me beforehand, that you will accede to it.
It is to be an experiment, I acknowledge, but
I wish it to have a fair trial. Now to please
me, will you promise ? ”
Mrs. James hesitated. She felt almost sure
that his plan would be quite impracticable, for
what does a man know of a woman’s work?
yet she promised.
“ Now I wish you,” said he, “ to set apart
two hours of every day for your own private
use. Make a point of going to your room and
locking yourself in; and also make up your


8
THE ANGEL OVEB
mind to let the work which is not done, go'
undone, if it must. Spend this time on just
those things which will he most profitable to
yourself. I shall bind you to your promise for
one month-—then, if it has proved a total fail
ure, we mil devise something else.”
“ When shall I begin ? ”
“ To-mcrrow.”
The morrow came. Mrs. James had chosen
the two hours before dinner as being, on the
whole, the most convenient and the least liable
to interruption. They dined at one o’clock.
She wished to finish her morning work, get
dressed for the day, and enter her room at
eleven.
Hearty as were her efforts to accomplish this,
the hour of eleven found her with her work but
half done; yet, true to her promise, she left all,
retired to her room and locked the door.


THE BIGHT SHOULDEK. 9
With some interest and hope, she imme
diately marked out a course of reading and
study, for these two precious hours; then, ar
ranging her tahle, her hooks, pen and paper,
she commenced a schedule of her work with
much enthusiasm. Scarcely had she dipped
her pen in ink, when she heard the tramping
of little feet along the hall, and then a pound
ing at her door.
“ Mamma! mamma! I cannot find my mit
tens, and Hannah is going to slide without
me.”
“ Go to Amy, my dear; mamma is husy.”
“So Amy busy too ; she say she can’t leave
baby.”
The child began to cry, still standing close
to the fastened door. Mrs. James knew the
easiest, and indeed the only way of settling
the trouble, was to go herself and hunt up the


10
THE ANGEL OVER
missing mittens. Then a parley must be held
with Frank, to induce him to wait for his sis
ter, and the child’s tears must be dried, and
little hearts must be all set right before the
children went out to play ; and so favorable an
opportunity must not be suffered to slip, without
impressing on young minds the importance of
having a “ place for everything and everything
in its place this took time ; and when Mrs.
James returned to her study, her watch told
her that half her portion had gone. Quietly
resuming her work, she was endeavoring to
mend her broken train of thought, when heav
ier steps were heard in the hall, and the fas
tened door was once more besieged. Now,
Mr. James must be admitted.
“Mary,’’.said he, “cannot you come and
sew a string on for me ? I do believe there is
not a bosom in my drawer in order, and I am


THE RIGHT SHOULDER. 11
in a great hurry. I ought to have been down
town an hour ago.”
The schedule was thrown aside, the work-
basket taken, and Mrs. James followed him.
She soon sewed on the tape, but then a button
needed fastening — and at last a rip in his
glove, was to be mended. As Mrs. James
stitched away on the glove, a smile lurked in
the corners of her mouth, which her husband
-observed.
“ What are you laughing at ? ” asked he.
“ To think how famously your plan works.”
“ I declare ! ” said he, “ is this your study
hour ? I am sorry, but what can a man do ?
He cannot go down town without a shirt bos
om ! ”
u Certainly not,” said his wife, quietly.
When her liege lord was fairly equipped
and off, Mrs. James returned to her room. A


12
THE ANGEL OYEH
half an hour yet remained to her, and of this
she determined to make the most. But scarce
ly had she resumed her pen, "when there was
another disturbance in the entry. Amy had
returned from walking out with the baby., and
she entered the nursery with him, that she
might get him to sleep. Now it happened that
the only room in the house which Mrs. James
could have to herself with a fire, was the one
adjoining the nursery. She had become so
accustomed to the ordinary noise of the children,
that it did not disturb her; but the very ex
traordinary noise which master Charley some
times felt called upon to make, when he was
fairly on his back in the cradle, did disturb
the unity of her thoughts. The words which
she was reading rose and fell with the screams
and lulls of the child, and she felt obliged to
close her book, until the storm was over


THE RIGHT SHOULDER.
13
When quiet -was restored in the cradle, the
children came in from sliding, crying with cold
fingers — and just as she was going to them,
the dinner-bell rang.
“ How did your new plan work this morn
ing ? ” inquired Mr. James.
“ Famously,” was the reply, “ I read about
seventy pages of German, and as many more
in French.”
“ I am sure I did not hinder you long.”
“ No — yours was only one of a dozen inter
ruptions.”
“0, well! you must not get discouraged.
Nothing succeeds, well the, first time. Persist
in your arrangement, and by and by the family
will learn that if they want anything of you,
they must wait until after dinner.”
“ Put what can a man do ? ” replied his


14
THE ANGEL OVER
wife; u he cannot go down town without a
shirt-Tbosom.”
“ I was in a had case,” replied Mr. James,
“ it may not happen again. I am anxious to
have you try the month out faithfully, and then
we will see what has come of it.”
The second day of trial was a stormy one.
As the morning was dark, Bridget over-slept,
and consequently breakfast was too late by an
hour. This lost hour Mrs. James could not
recover. When the clock struck eleven, she
seemed but to have commenced her morning’s
work, so much remained to be done. With
mind disturbed and spirits depressed, she left
her household matters “ in the suds,” as they
were, and punctually retired to her study.
She soon found, however, that she could not
fix her attention upon any intellectual pursuit.


THE RIGHT SHOULDER.
15
Neglected duties haunted her, like ghosts
around the guilty conscience. Perceiving that
she was doing nothing with her books, and
not wishing to lose the morning wholly, she
commenced writing a letter. Bridget inter
rupted her before she had proceeded far on
the first page.
“ What, ma’am, shall w r e have for dinner ?
No marketing ha’n’t come.”
“ Have some steaks, then.”
“ We ha’n’t got none, ma’am.”
“ I will send out for some, directly.”
Now 7 there was no one to send but Amy,
and Mrs. James knew 7 it. With a sigh, she
put down her letter and went into the nursery.
“ Amy, Mr. James has forgotten our mar
keting. I should like to have you run over to
the provision store, and order some beef-steaks.
I will stay with the baby.”


16
THE ANGEL OVER
Amy -was not much pleased to he sent out on
this errand. She remarked, that “ she must
change her dress first.”
“ Be as quick as possible,” said Mrs. James,
“ for I am particularly engaged at this hour.”
Amy neither obeyed, nor disobeyed, but man
aged to take her own time, without any very
deliberate intention to do so. Mrs. James,
hoping to get along with a sentence or two,
took her German book into the nursery. But
this arrangement was not to master Charley’s
mind. A fig did he care for German, but
“ the kitties,” he must have, whether or no —
and kitties he would find in that particular
book — so he turned its leaves over in great
haste. Half of the time on the second day of
trial had gone, when Amy returned and Mrs.
James with a sigh, left her nursery. Before
one o’clock, she was twice called into the kitch-


THE RIGHT SHOULDER. 17
en to superintend some important dinner ar-.
rangement, and thus it turned out that she did
not finish one page of her letter.
On the third morning the sun shone, and
Mrs. James rose early, made every provision
■which she deemed necessary for dinner, and
for the comfort of her family ; and then, elated
by her success, in good spirits, and with good
courage, she entered her study precisely at
eleven o’clock, and locked her door. Her
books were opened, and the challenge given
to a hard Herman lesson. Scarcely had
she made the first onset, when the door
bell was heard to ring, and soon Bridget
coming nearer and nearer — then tapping at
the door.
“ Somebodies wants to see you in the parlor,
ma’am.”


18
THE ANGEL OVER
“ Tell them I am engaged, Bridget.”
“ I told ’em you were to-home, ma’am, and
they sent up their names, hut I ha’n’t got ’em,
jist.”
There was no help for it — Mrs. James
must go down to receive her callers. She
had to smile when she felt little like it — to
be sociable when her thoughts were busy with
her task. Her friends made a long call —
they had nothing else to do with their time,
and when they went, others came. In very
unsatisfactory chit-chat, her morning slipped
away.
On the next day, Mr. James invited compa
ny to tea, and her morning was devoted to
preparing for it; she did not enter her study.
On the day following, a sick-head-ache con
fined her to her bed, and on Saturday the


THE 111 G II T SHOULDER.
19
care of the baby devolved upon her, as Amy
had extra work to do. Thus passed the first
week.
True to her promise, Mi'S. James patiently
persevered for a month, in her efforts to secure
for herself this little fragment of her broken
time, but with what success, the first week’s
history can tell. With its close, closed the
month of December.
On the last day of the old year, she was so
much occupied in her preparations for the
morrow’s festival, that the last hour of the day
was approaching, before she made her good
night’s call in the nursery. She first went
to the crib and looked at the baby. There he
lay in his innocence and beauty, fast asleep.
She softly stroked his golden hair—she kissed
gently his rosy cheek — she pressed the little
dimpled hand in hers, and then, carcfidly draw-


20
TIIE ANGEL OVER
mg the coverlet over it, tucked it in, and
stealing yet another kiss — she left him to his
peaceful dreams and sat down on her daugh
ter’s bed. She also slept sweetly, with her
dolly hugged to her bosom. At this her moth
er smiled, but soon grave thoughts entered her
mind, and these deepened into sad ones. She
thought of her disappointment and the failure
of her plans. To her, not only the past month
but the whole past year, seemed to have been
one of fruitless effort—all broken and disjoint
ed— even her hours of religious duty had
been encroached upon, and disturbed. She
had accomplished nothing, that she could see,
but to keep her house and family in order,
and even this, to her saddened mind, seemed
to have been but indifferently done. She was
conscious of yearnings for a more earnest life
than this. Unsatisfied longings for something


THE EIGHT SIIOULDEE. 21
■which she had not attained, often clouded what,
otherwise, would have been a bright day to
her ; and yet the causes of these feelings seem
ed to lie in a dim and misty region, which her
eye could not penetrate.
What then did she need? To see some re
sults from her life’s work ? To know that a
golden cord bound her life-threads together into
unity of purpose — notwithstanding they seem
ed, so often, single and broken ?
She was quite sure that she felt no desire
to shrink from duty, however humble, but she
sighed for some conforting assurance of what
was duty. Her employments, conflicting as
they did with her tastes, seemed to her frivo
lous and useless. It seemed to her that there
was some better way of living, which she,
from deficiency in energy of character, or of
principle, had failed to discover. As she lean-


22 THE ANGEL OVEK
ed over her child, her tears fell fast upon its
young brow.
Most earnestly did she wish, that she could
shield that child from the disappointments and
mistakes and self-reproach from which the
mother was then suffering; that the little one
might take up life where she could give it
to her — all mended by her own experience.
It would have been a comfort to have felt,
that in fighting the battle, she had fought for
both ; yet she knew that so it could not be —
that for ourselves must we all learn what are
those things which “ make for our peace.”
The tears were in her eyes, as she gave the
good-night to her sleeping daughter — then
with soft steps she entered an adjoining room,
and there fairly kissed out the old year on an
other chubby cheek, which nestled among the
pillows. At length she sought her own rest.


THE RIGHT SHOULDER.
23
Soon she found herself in a singular place.
She was traversing a vast plain. No trees
were visible, save those which skirted the dis
tant horizon, and on their broad - tops rested
wreaths of golden clouds. Before her was a
female, who was journeying towards that re
gion of light. Little children were about her,
now in her arms, now running by her side,
and as they travelled, she occupied herself in
caring for them. She taught them how to
place their little feet — she gave them timely
warnings of the pit-falls — she gently lifted
them over the stumbling-blocks. When they
were weary, she soothed them by singing of
that brighter land, which she kept ever in
view, and towards which she seemed hastening
with her little flock. But what was most re
markable was, that, all unknown to her, she
was constantly watched by two angels, who


24
THE AH GEL OYER
reposed on two golden clouds which floated
above her. Before each was a golden book,
and a pen of gold. One angel, with mild and
loving eyes, peered constantly over her right
shoulder — another kept as strict watch over
her left. Not a deed, not a word, not a look,
escaped their notice. "When a good deed,
word, look, went from her, the angel over
the right shoulder with a glad smile, wrote it
down in his book ; when an evil, however triv
ial, the angel over the left shoulder recorded
it in his book — then with sorrowful eyes fol
lowed the pilgrim until he observed penitence
for the wrong, upon which he dropped a tear
on the record, and blotted it out, and both
angels rejoiced.
To the looker-on, it seemed that the travel
ler did nothing which was worthy of such care
ful record. Sometimes she did but bathe the


THE RIGHT SHOULDER.
25
weary feet; of her little children, but the angel
over the right shoulder—wrote it down. Some
times she did but patiently wait to lure back
a little truant who had turned his face away
from the distant light, but the angel over the
right shoulder — wrote it down. Sometimes
she did but soothe an angry feeling or raise
a drooping eye-lid, or kiss away a little grief;
but the angel over the right shoulder — wrote
it down.
Sometimes, her eye was fixed so intently
on that golden horizon, and she became so ea
ger to make progress thither, that the little
ones, missing her care, did languish or stray.
Then it was that the angel over the left shoul
der, lifted his golden pen, and made the entry,
and followed her with sorrowful eyes, until he
could blot it out. Sometimes she seemed to
advance rapidly, but in her haste the little


26
THE ANGEL OVER
ones had fallen back, and it was the sorrowing
angel who recorded her progress. Sometimes
so intent was sbe to gird up ber loins and bave
her lamp trimmed and burning, that the httle
children wandered away quite into forbidden
paths, and it was the angel over the left shoul
der who recorded her diligence.
Now the observer as she looked, felt that
this was a faithful and true record, and was
to be kept to that journey’s end. The strong
clasps of gold on those golden books, also
impressed her with the conviction that, when
they were closed, it would only be for a future
opening.
Her sympathies were warmly enlisted for the
gentle traveller, and with a beating heart she
quickened her steps that she might overtake
her. She wished to tell her of the angels
keeping watch above her—to entreat her to


TIIE ltlGIIT SHOULDEK.
be faithful and patient to the end — for her
life’s work was all written down — every item
of it — and the results would he known when
those golden hooks should he unclasped. She
wished to heg of her to think no duty trivial
which must he done, for over her right shoulder
and over her left were recording angels, who
would surely take note of all 1
Eager to warn the traveller of what she had
seen, she touched her. The traveller turned,
and she recognized or seemed to recognize her
self. Startled and alarmed she awoke in tears.
The gray light of morning struggled through
the half-open shutter, the door was ajar and
merry faces were peeping in.
“ Wish you a happy new year, mamma,”—
“ Wish you a Happy new Year,” — “ a happy
noo ear.”


28
THE ANGEL OVER
She returned the merry greeting most heart
ily. It seemed to her as if she had entered
upon a new existence. She had found her way
through the thicket in which she had been en
tangled, and a light was now about her path.
The Angel over the 'Right Shoulder whom she
had seen in her dream, would bind up in his
golden book her life’s work, if it were but well
done. He required of her no great deeds, but
/ faithfulness and patience to the end of the race
/ which was set before her. How she could see
/ plainly enough, that though it was right and
important for her to cultivate her own mind
and heart, it was equally right and equally
important, to meet and perform faithfully all
' those little household cares and duties on which
the comfort and virtue of her family depended ;
for into these things the angels carefully looked


THE EIGHT SHOULDER.
29
— and these duties and cares acquired a digni
ty from the strokes of that golden pen—they
could not be neglected 'without danger.
Sad thoughts and sadder misgivings — un
defined yearnings and ungratified longings seem
ed to have taken their flight with the Old Year,
and it was with fresh resolution and cheerful
hope, and a happy heart, she welcomed the
. Glad New Year. The Angel over the JRight
Shoulder would go with her, and if she were
found faithful, would strengthen and comfort
her to its close.
ENT).
I.