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Reginald in Russia and Other Stories

The Strategist
Mrs. Jallatt's young people's parties were severely exclusive; it came cheaper that way,
because you could ask fewer to them. Mrs. Jallatt didn't study cheapness, but somehow
she generally attained it.
"There'll 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 champion's sister apologising 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 the 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 the game. He would have suggested it himself if his faction had been in the
majority.
"It doesn't 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
 
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