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[Prose Manuscript-Short Story] “In Affection and Esteem”

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Mary Webb. “In Affection and Esteem.” 5. Grove Cottages / The Grove / Hampstead / London N.W.3 (these lines all crossed out). Prose manuscript, eleven leaves, 10″ x 8″, thin off-white wove paper, two corrections. On the first leaf “(Mrs. H. L. Webb)” is crossed out, and a pencil annotation in the top margin reads: “1 change on / last page.” “In Affection and Esteem” is a short story about Myrtle Brown, a girl who makes buttonholes. Her great wish is to receive a beautiful box of flowers as a gift. Feeling old and lonely, Myrtle saves enough money to send herself this present. She orders the flowers, accompanied by a card that reads “In affection and esteem.” On the day of delivery, Myrtle’s landlady intervenes. Certain that such a beautiful gift could not be meant for her shabby little lodger, the landlady redirects the delivery boy: “There did come a parcel for Miss Brown. But it was a great expensive box with ‘Cut Flowers’ on it, so I knew it wasn’t for you and I sent it on straight to Miss Elvira Brown, the actress, who was used to lodge here. She was always getting stacks of flowers, so I knew it was for her.” First published in volume seven of The Collected Works of Mary Webb (1929), along with the unfinished novel, Armour Wherein He Trusted, and nine other short stories. Provenance: F. J. Board, Kerry Payne.