“The conservatory,” prompted Arabella.
“The conservatory,” repeated Patricia, “and then you’ll see what you’ll see! I promise to surprise you.”
“Don’t you tell if I tell you,” said Arabella.
“No, ’ndeed,” Patricia agreed.
“Well, Aunt Matilda said she wouldn’t let me wear anything flighty, so she’s made me a dress like a Puritan, and my domino is tan color.”
Arabella’s curiosity forced her to tell all that Patricia longed to know, because she was simply wild to visit the conservatory, and find out what it was that Patricia could show.
With vows of secrecy they parted, Patricia walking slowly homeward; Arabella running all the way.
“Aunt Matilda’ll say something, I guess, when she sees me,” she whispered as she ran, “First thing she’ll ask where I’ve been, and oh, I never thought to take those horrid pills! The bottle is in my pocket, and I’ve eaten candy and ice cream! It’s lucky she don’t know that; if she did she’d say, ’I shouldn’t wonder if that child had fits before morning!’ She don’t know it, and p’r’aps I won’t have the fits.”
Lights blazed from every window of the stone house, the great garden was brilliantly lighted, even the twinkling stars overhead seemed brighter than usual, as if they knew of the party, and were laughing as they watched the little guests arriving.
Lightly they stepped from their carriages, and flew up the steps as if their feet had wings.
What was their surprise to see the manservant, at the door as usual, to be sure, but in a fine old suit of livery that made him look like an English serving-man of many, many years ago.
Yes, there was the maid in the hall in a cute Watteau costume, a tiny lace cap on her head, and a kerchief over her flowered gown. She presented her salver, and each little guest laid a card upon it, with the name of the character which she represented. These were merely to be kept as souvenirs, that later Dorothy might look them over, and see what a variety of noted personages had called to do her honor.
They were not to be announced, for while the names of the girls’ costumes would not tell which girl wore it, the characters that the boys took would of course be male personages.
So the little guests tripped through the great hall, and into the long drawing-room, where another surprise awaited them.
There stood handsome Mr. Dainty in royal robes, as a king, his beautiful wife in velvet and ermine as his queen, and gentle Aunt Charlotte as lady-in-waiting.
How quaint the little figures looked in their long, cloak-like dominoes of red, blue, pink, green, white, lilac, and indeed every known color and tint.
As they each extended a little hand, they peeped at host and hostess through the eyeholes in their dominoes, and if they were recognized, they did not know it.