"Love in a Wych Elm."
A boyhood remembrance, set in Evensford, of a wealthy and colorful family with seven lovely daughters. The narrator recalls his first glimpse, at nine, of womanhood, at the age of nine, in the much older Hilda, "a magnificent figure of a girl," as she prepares for a dance and he fastens her necklace: "I was agreeably and mystically stunned." Later, playing with her nine-year-old sister in a grove of wych-elms, he is "oppressed by a sensation of anti-climax. Something about Stella, I felt, had not quite ripened. I had not the remotest idea as to what it could be except that she seemed, in some unelevating and puzzling way, awkward and flat." Baldwin (199) cites a letter in which Bates names this and two other tales as his favorite selections from the collection. In Woman's Own (unidentified issue in 1954), Argosy (September 1959), The Watercress Girl and Other Stories (1959), Seven by Five/The Best of H.E. Bates (1963), The Good Corn and Other Stories (1974), Elephant's Nest in a Rhubarb Tree & Other Stories (1989), Love in a Wych Elm and Other Stories (2009). Reprinted in Woman's Realm (August 24, 1985).