Read CHAPTER I of The Trimming of Goosie , free online book, by James Hopper, on

“Why, Goosie, what are you doing?”

Goosie, otherwise Mr. Charles-Norton Sims, dropped his arms hastily down his sides and stood very still, caged in the narrow space between porcelain tub and gleaming towel-rack. The mirror before which he had been performing his morning calisthenics faced him uncompromisingly; it showed him that he was blushing. The sight increased his embarrassment. For a moment panic went bounding and rebounding swiftly in painted contagion from Goosie to the mirror, from the mirror to Goosie; the blush, at first faint on Charles-Norton’s brow, flamed, spread over his face, down his neck, fell in cascade along his broad shoulders, and then rippled down his satiny skin clear to the barrier of the swimming trunks tight about his waist. It was some time before he mustered the courage to turn his foolish face toward the door through which had sounded the cooing cry of his little wife.

The door was but a few inches a-jar; it let pass only the round little nose of the round little wife, between two wide-open blue-flowers of eyes. “What are you doing, Goosie?” she repeated in a tone slightly amused but rich with a large tolerance; “what are you doing, Goosie, eh?”

“Nothing, Dolly,” he answered, his straight, athletic body a bit gawky with embarrassment; “nothing.”

Then, as she peered, still doubtful, through the crack: “It’s a new exercise I have a dandy. See?”

And lamely he placed both his hands beneath his armpits and waved his elbows up and down three times.

“Oh,” she said, as if satisfied.

But, as a matter of fact, this was not the accurate repetition of what she had seen. He had been standing before the mirror very straight, then, a-tip-toe, his chest bulging; his arms, bent with hands beneath the shoulders, had been beating up and down with a rapidity that made of them a mere white vibration, their tattoo upon his ribs like the beating of a drum; and suddenly, as if to some singular ecstasy, his head had gone back and out of his rounded mouth there had clarioned a clear cock-a-doo-del-doo-oo, much like that of chanticleer heralding the sun.

“It’s fine it’s fine for the pectoral muscles,” he went on, more firmly.

“Well,” she said charitably, “jump into your bath, quick, dear. Breakfast is ready, and you’ll be late at the office again if you don’t hurry.” She closed the door softly upon him.

It was seldom that she intruded thus upon the mystery of his morning hygienics. It was with a clothed Charles-Norton that she had first fallen in love; and like most women (who, being practical, realize that, since it is dressed, after all, that men go through the world, it is dressed that they must be judged) Dolly appreciated her handsome young husband best in his broad-shouldered sack-coat and well-creased trousers.

Charles-Norton, still rather abashed, dropped into the cold green tub, splashed, rubbed down, dressed, and sat down to breakfast. As he ate his waffles, though, out of the blue breakfast set which Dolly’s charming, puzzle-browed economy had managed to extort from the recalcitrant family budget, his usual glowing loquacity of after-the-bath was lacking. His eyes wandered furtively about the little encumbered room; thoughts, visibly, rolled within his head which did not find his lips. And when he bade Dolly good-by, on the fifth-story landing, she missed in his kiss the usual warm linger.