This passage occurs at the very end of the novella. Winterbourne has been thinking of Daisy often since she died. When he sees his aunt, Mrs. Costello, the next summer, he mentions the message that Daisy left for him before she died. Daisy wanted him to know she was not engaged to Mr. Giovanelli. As her mother says at the time Daisy is very ill:
She gave me a message she told me to tell you. She told me to tell you that she never was engaged to that handsome Italian.
Winterbourne says he now understands the message: Daisy wanted him to "esteem" or respect her. At the time she was alive, however, he thought her behavior signaled that she was not a person he needed to "respect."
Of course, saying she "would have appreciated one's esteem" is a cryptic statement, which compels Mrs. Costello to ask if Daisy was signaling she would have returned Mr. Winterbourne's affection had he expressed it. What Mrs. Costello means is: "Are you saying, Winterbourne, that Daisy was telling you she would have...
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