Mrs. Jallatts young peoples parties were severely exclusive; it came cheaper that way, because you could ask fewer to them. Mrs. Jallatt didnt study cheapness, but somehow she generally attained it.
Therell be about ten girls, speculated Rollo, as he drove to the function, and I suppose four fellows, unless the Wrotsleys bring their cousin, which Heaven forbid. That would mean Jack and me against three of them.
Rollo and the Wrotsley brethren had maintained an undying feud almost from nursery days. They only met now and then in the holidays, and the meeting was usually tragic for whichever happened to have the fewest backers on hand. Rollo was counting to-night on the presence of a devoted and muscular partisan to hold an even balance. As he arrived he heard his prospective champions sister apologizing to the hostess for the unavoidable absence of her brother; a moment later he noted that the Wrotsleys had brought their cousin.
Two against three would have been exciting and possibly unpleasant; one against three promised to be about as amusing as a visit to a dentist. Rollo ordered his carriage for as early as was decently possible, and faced the company with a smile that he imagined the better sort of aristocrat would have worn when mounting to the guillotine.
So glad you were able to come, said the elder Wrotsley heartily.
Now, you children will like to play games, I suppose, said Mrs. Jallatt, by way of giving things a start, and as they were too well-bred to contradict her there only remained the question of what they were to play at.
I know of a good game, said the elder Wrotsley innocently. The fellows leave the room and think of a word; then they come back again, and the girls have to find out what the word is.
Rollo knew that game. He would have suggested it himself if his faction had been in the majority.
It doesnt promise to be very exciting, sniffed the superior Dolores Sneep as the boys filed out of the room. Rollo thought differently. He trusted to Providence that Wrotsley had nothing worse than knotted handkerchiefs at his disposal.
The word-choosers locked themselves in the library to ensure that their deliberations should not be interrupted. Providence turned out to be not even decently neutral; on a rack on the library wall were a dog-whip and a whalebone riding switch. Rollo thought it criminal negligence to leave such weapons of precision lying about. He was given a choice of evils, and chose the dog-whip; the next minute or so he spent in wondering how he could have made such a stupid selection. Then they went back to the languidly expectant females.
The words camel, announced the Wrotsley cousin blunderingly.
You stupid! screamed the girls, weve got to guess the word. Now youll have to go back and think of another.
Not for worlds, said Rollo; I mean, the word isnt really camel; we were rotting. Pretend it s dromedary! he whispered to the others.
I heard them say dromedary! I heard them. I dont care what you say; I heard them, squealed the odious Dolores. With ears as long as hers one would hear anything, thought Rollo savagely.
We shall have to go back, I suppose, said the elder Wrotsley resignedly.
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