Forty pages into this particular story and I’ve learned this: A young man has been caught with having had a girl other than his fiancee in his car a week before his wedding, as they’ve had an automobile accident. The girl took off through the woods immediately following the collision and is missing now for several days.
The time of the telling is a past reflection; the narrator has gone ahead and married his fiancee despite his worries at the time that the incident may have changed her mind. We’re not sure however, that the girl who was with him has survived the winter storm in the woods. Everyone is secretive.
But the real story here appears to be the difference in the two women as to social status, and in particular, how the men of the story view them. There is (to my mind) too much emphasis placed on this point, almost a "methinks (s)he doth protest too much" attitude in protecting the reputation of this missing girl, and the focus on who is marriage material and who is not; even as all are almost condescendingly protective.
The conflict started with the accident; the tension continues with the possibility of his broken engagement–although he sees his fiancee as quite mature and understanding, and the question of why the girl has taken off, and of course, if she is safe. But the majority of words have been spent on the narrator’s explanation of how women were considered back in the 40s and their social standing not only in the South, but in the area of their male counterparts as well as the women of other groupings.
A bit much; I think it might have been more briefly told.