They entered a tiny store which the sign stated was an “Ice Cream Parlor.” There was room for but three little tables, but Arabella thought it quite grand, for the wall-paper was covered with gaudy flowers, and the ice cream was very pink.
They took tiny sips that the treat might last longer, and Arabella watched Patricia, and waited to hear what she had to tell.
At last Patricia lost patience.
“Why don’t you ask what the secret is?” she asked.
“Why don’t you tell it if it’s worth telling?” Arabella asked, coolly.
“I guess it’s worth telling,” said Patricia. “Say, you’ll be at Dorothy Dainty’s party, won’t you?”
“Of course I’ll be there; my costume is ’most done.”
“What’s it going to be?”
“Why, don’t you remember we are not to tell any one what we are to wear; not even the color of our dominoes?” Arabella asked in surprise.
“Well, we didn’t promise not to tell,” said Patricia, “and, anyway, I’m going to tell you. Ma has made me a Spanish dress, all spangles, and red ribbons, and gold tinsel, and my domino that will cover it for the first of the evening will be bright yellow! I’ve told you, Arabella Corryville, because now you’ll know which I am, as soon as you see me, and you’ll be just mean if you don’t tell me now what you’re going to wear.” Arabella hesitated.
“Dorothy wouldn’t like to have us tell,” she said.
“Well, we needn’t tell her we told, and what about me? Here I’ve treated you to candy and ice cream, and told you all about my costume. If you were half-nice, you’d think you ought to tell me about yours.”
Patricia’s voice sounded grieved, and Arabella wavered.
Ought she to tell? She knew she ought not, but Patricia urged again.
“And I was going to say we could each wear a blue ribbon on the third buttonhole of our dominoes, so we’d know each other the minute we got there. And, say,” she continued, “have you ever been all over the stone house?”
“Not in every room,” said Arabella. “Have you been in the observatory?”
“The what?” asked Arabella.
Patricia was sure that she had made a mistake.
“The room where the flowers are?” she said.
“Oh, the conservatory, you mean,” Arabella said, grandly. “No, I haven’t been in there, but I’ve seen the flowers from the doorway, and they’re lovely.”
“Well, they’re twice as lovely when you’re right in the room with them. I know, because I’ve been in there!” said Patricia.
“When?” queried Arabella.
“The last time I was there,” Patricia replied, “and now I’ll tell you something; there’s something in that room that I know about, and not another girl knows it but me. I won’t tell you what it is now, but at the party I’ll do better than tell you; I’ll show you. We’ll go out into the hall when nobody is looking at us, and we’ll go into the what-you-call-it,—”