Aunty, dear, do you know what day this is? "If the almanac may be believed, it is the 24th of April." "Six months ago to-day, Gerald and I were married. I feel as if I had been married for years." "How dreadful to feel that you are growing old so quickly! I hope all married people don't feel like that." "You misunderstand me, Aunt Jane. I have been so happy since that evening last year when Gerald whispered something to me in the summer-house, that all my life before I knew him seems as unreal as a dream." "Such short courtships are positively dreadful. Now, when I was engaged to Captain Singleton" A third lady, who had been lounging on a sofa and making-believe to be intent on a novel, gave a loud sneeze and sat bolt upright. She had heard Captain Singleton's name introduced so often of late, that she might be excused for not caring to hear it mentioned again--at least for a little while. The first speaker, Clara Brooke, was a charming brunette of twenty-two, with sparkling black eyes, a pure olive complexion, and a manner that was at once vivacious and tender. Miss Primby, the second speaker, was a fresh-coloured, well-preserved spinster of---- But no; Miss Primby's age was a secret, which she guarded as a dragon might guard its young, and we have no right to divulge it. She had one of the best hearts in the world, and one of the weakest heads. Everybody smiled at her little foibles, yet everybody liked her. Just now she was busy over some species of delicate embroidery, in which she was an adept. Lady Fanny Dwyer, the third lady, whose inopportune sneeze had for a moment so disconcerted Miss Primby, was a very pretty, worldly-wise, self-possessed young matron, who in age was some six months older than Mrs. Brooke. She and Clara had been bosom friends in their school-days; and notwithstanding the many differences in their characters and dispositions, their liking for each other was still as fresh and unselfish as ever it had been. The ladies were sitting in a pleasant morning-room at Beechley Towers, Mr. Gerald Brooke's country-house, situated about fourteen miles from London. The room opened on to a veranda by means of long windows, which were wide open this balmy April afternoon. Beyond the veranda was a terrace, from which two flights of broad shallow steps led down to a flower-garden. Outside that lay a well-wooded park, with a wide sweep of sunny champaign enfolding the whole. Clara Brooke had scarcely heard her aunt's last remark. She was seated at a davenport, turning over some old letters. On the wall in front of her hung a portrait of her husband, painted on ivory. "'My own darling Clara,'" she read to herself from one of the letters; "'it seems an age since I saw you last, and it will seem like an age till I shall have the happiness of seeing you again.' What sweet, sweet letters he used to write to me! What other girl ever had such letters written to her?" She pressed the paper she had been reading to her lips, then refolded it, and put it away and took up another. "Ah, my dear," remarked Lady Fanny, turning to her friend, "as you remarked just now, you have only been a wife for six short months, and of course everything with you is still couleur de rose.