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Pat Ball
by [?]

“Oh, I was only just wondering.”

“I quite see your point. You feel that Nature always compensates us in some way, and that as–“

“Oh, no!” said Miss Hope in great confusion. “I didn’t mean that at all.”

She must have meant it. You don’t talk to people about singing in the middle of a game of tennis; certainly not to comparative strangers who have only spilt lemonade over your frock once before. No, no. It was an insult, and it nerved me to a great effort. I discarded–for it was my serve–the Hampstead Smash; I discarded the Peruvian Teaser. Instead, I served two Piccadilly Benders from the right-hand court and two Westminster Welts from the left-hand. The Piccadilly Bender is my own invention. It can only be served from the one court, and it must have a wind against it. You deliver it with your back to the net, which makes the striker think that you have either forgotten all about the game, or else are apologizing to the spectators for your previous exhibition. Then with a violent contortion you slue your body round and serve, whereupon your opponent perceives that you ARE playing, and that it is just one more ordinary fault into the wrong court. So she calls “Fault!” in a contemptuous tone and drops her racket… and then adds hurriedly, “Oh, no, sorry, it wasn’t a fault, after all.” That being where the wind comes in.

The Westminster Welt is in theory the same as the Hampstead Smash, but goes over the net. One must be in very good form (or have been recently insulted) to bring this off.

Well, we won that game, a breeze having just sprung up; and, carried away by enthusiasm and mutual admiration, we collected another. (FIVE, TWO.) Then it was Miss Hope’s serve again.

“Good-bye,” I said; “I suppose you want me in the fore-front again?”


“I don’t mind HER shots–the bottle of scent is absolutely safe; but I’m afraid he’ll win another packet of woodbines.”

Miss Hope started off with a double, which was rather a pity, and then gave our masculine adversary what is technically called “one to kill.” I saw instinctively that I was the one, and I held my racket ready with both hands. Our opponent, who had been wanting his tea for the last two games, was in no mood of dalliance; he fairly let himself go over this shot. In a moment I was down on my knees behind the net … and the next moment I saw through the meshes a very strange thing. The other man, with his racket on the ground, was holding his eye with both hands!

“Don’t you think,” said Miss Hope (TWO, FIVE–ABANDONED), “that your overhead volleying is just a little severe?”