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"The Palace."
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War, Marriage, Adultery

The wife of the caretaker of the London Palace (a venue for musical and other entertainments), left alone during the war, seeks happiness in an attempted affair with a prisoner. Her husband returns from the war to a Palace that is deserted and filthy and a wife who is despondent drunkard.

As detailed by Baldwin (1987, p. 130), the story accurately reflects the experience, during the first World War, of Bates's friend Charles Lahr and a Mrs. Wheatley, who was the wife of the Alexandra Palace custodian and a life-long friend to Lahr (looking after his family when he was imprisoned in 1935). On learning of the story when published by the Reader's Union in the 1938 collection Country Tales, lawyers acting on behalf of Mrs. Wheatley wrote to the publisher on October 20, 1938 about the "distressed condition" of their client and asking that copies of the book be removed from circulation, that future copies exclude the story, and that Bates write a letter "which makes it clear that none of the offensive passages are founded on anything which has occurred in our client's life." Lawyers representing the Reader's Union, Cape, and Bates responded the next day with the requested letter by Bates as well as a statement that the "Readers Union Ltd have also suspended the issue of any further copies by them, and have returned the whole of their remaining stock to the binders with a view to the removal of the short story complained of. You may therefore take it that no further copies will be issued by them containing the story." At least one copy has been examined in which the offending story has been extracted and the volume rebound.

The story was excluded from Cape's 1940 edition of Country Tales, although it did appear in a 1974 reprint of Something Short and Sweet. Another tale, "No Country," in the 1937 collection Something Short and Sweet was a fairly factual account of a matter concerning Lahr (at Lahr's displeasure).

In The Listener (December 30, 1936), Something Short and Sweet (1937), Country Tales (1938).