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ID
b303
Title
"The Wild Cherry Tree."
Genre
Story
Page Count
30
Word Count
6700
Publisher
Woman's Own
Publication Year
1968
Topics
Marriage, Adultery

The wife of a pig-farmer dresses like a "shabby, straddling scarecrow" as she tends her pigs. The land was once beautiful but is now a "churned morass of mud and stumps that resembled more than anything else a battlefield strewn with the fat corpses of the slain." Her sole diversion is, alone in the evenings, to adorn herself in exotic clothes and jewels without leaving the house. Unaccountably she ventures out one evening, meets a man traveling through, and enters into an affair with him. Much later, pregnant by him and in her work clothes, she is unrecognizable to him: "She endured...the torment of the old dilemma she had created for herself, the fraudulent trap of being two people." The title derives from the fact that the sole survivor of the land's former beauty is "a single wild cherry tree, tall above the scores of stumpy hazels, its white-flowered branches like some graceful and pointless flag of surrender long since forgotten." In Woman's Own (May 11, 1968 and again on September 25, 1982), The Wild Cherry Tree (1968), The Best of H.E. Bates (1980).