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I'm looking for a short story that I think I listened to as an audiobook, in a collection with other stories, in the early 2000s, checked out from a library in Ashland, KY.

I was reminded of this when seeing the title to Looking for an O.Henry story where a young man from the country working in the city marries a socialite and then goes for a visit to his home, where the eventual answer was "The Defeat of the City". I've reread that story and verified that it wasn't the right one, but there were similar themes. A man who became rich while in the city has married, and has decided to take his bride to his childhood home, which is in a much more rural area. Part of me wants to say the Appalachian Mountains, but I could as readily see something set in Tennessee. Either way, I'm 99% certain it's set in the United States. She's entirely unprepared, and is dressed for a night out on the town, while he's reverted to jeans and a rough shirt, but nonetheless she gamely struggles her way up through mud, trees, and I think a fair amount of rocky terrain. She may or may not have started off with a trunk of clothing that she was dragging along with her. I don't remember the eventual resolution, other than that they do make it to the house.

One detail that may or may not be directly related is that I remember an incident being related regarding the protagonist having a bicycle as a child, and when bullies began taking the bicycle from him by force, he started sabotaging it in clever ways, I believe eventually resulting in severe injury for the bully when they tried to ride it down a steep slope only to have the bike fall apart on them, leading to them taking a serious spill. The catch is that I don't know if this was just another story in the collection, or if it was the same protagonist.

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The part about the Bicycle sounds to me like "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" the title story of Foggy Mountain Breakdown and other stories by Sharyn McCrumb. In that story the bicycle has been so sabotaged that the bully crashes onto railroad tracks and is killed by a train. But I don't recall anything like the man coming home to a rural household with a city bride, although that would not be out of character for McCrumb.


(information from Sean, the querent):
The story about the man bringing his bride to his childhood home is "Telling the Bees". Carl, an engineer in San Francisco, brings his bride, Elissa, to the family homestead in Cabe's Hollow, Tennessee for their honeymoon. She is indeed unprepared, having brought three cases of clothing, and forced to leave one behind when they head up the mountain. The name of the story comes from a family tradition of hanging black crêpe from the beehives when there's been a death in the family to "tell the bees" about the death. In the end, she tells him that this is more than she bargained for and he agrees that, in the morning, they'll leave for Aspen, the "cabin" she described to her friends that they were going to and he, realizing that he probably wouldn't be coming back, hangs a strip of crêpe on the abandoned beehive before heading back to the cabin and his new wife.

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  • The story with the bride is "Telling the Bees". Thank you. Jul 28, 2021 at 1:10
  • @Sean Oh Of course, I remembered only the Nora Bonesteel part of that. Jul 28, 2021 at 1:14
  • Would you have any objection to me editing your last sentence out and then adding a bit about "Telling the Bees" and how it matches? Aug 25, 2022 at 20:04
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    @Sean Duggan please leave the last sentence in, but feel free to add the content about 'Telling the Bees" crediting yourself, I would hope. Or make that a separate answer, which I would expect to upvote. Or when I have time I'll add 'Telling the Bees" to the answer. Pick any of those you prefer. Aug 25, 2022 at 20:33

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