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'The Flame'
Page Count
Word Count
Daily Mail
Nation and Athenaeum
Publication Year

Bates's second published story portrays a waitress mechanically handling orders as she anticipates the arrival of her evening date.

In his autobiography, Bates would reflect that 'more than forty years later it is still a story of which I am not ashamed... But it too went off unsuccessfully on its wanderings: finding, like Joyce's Dubliners, no sponsors, a fact perhaps not surprising in that it was looking for one in a world where stories still had to have plots or to conform to rigid house-rules designed to satisfy the specific appetites of specific readers. My little harassed waitress ... didn't need a plot'. (The Vanished World, pp. 161-162). Bates also notes Edward Garnett's comments on first reading the story: 'The Flame shows that you have mastered this form of the short sketch. It is beautifully felt and written. You must do others in this style -- terse, with not a word thrown away' (The Blossoming World, p. 19) and mentions that just at the time that Garnett interested Leonard Woolf of The Nation in the story, Robert Lynd of The Daily News also accepted it for publication (Bates having submitted it for a competition, which however he did not win).

In the Nation and Athenaeum (March 27, 1926), Day's End and Other Stories (1928), Thirty Tales (1934), Seven by Five/The Best of H.E. Bates (1963, and the only tale selected by Bates from Day's End and Other Stories), A Month by the Lake & Other Stories (1987). The story also appeared with the title 'Waitress' in The Daily Mail (October 7, 1933)