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Physical Culture
by [?]

“So much for Exercise 10,” I thought, as I got up. “I’ll just get the idea to-night, and then start properly to-morrow. Now for No. 15.”

Somehow I felt instinctively that No. 15 would cause trouble. For No. 15 you stand on the right foot, fasten the left foot to one of the cords, and stretch it out as far as you can….

What–officially–you do then, I cannot say….

Some people can stand easily upon the right foot when the left is fastened to the wall … others cannot…. It is a gift….

Having recovered from my spontaneous rendering of No. 15 I turned to No. 28. This one, I realised, was extremely important. I would do it twelve times.

You begin by lying flat on the floor roped in at the waist, and with your hands (grasping the elastic cords) held straight up in the air. The tension on your waist is then extreme but on your hands only moderate. Then taking a deep breath you pull your arms slowly out until they lie along the floor. The tension becomes terrific, the strain on every part of you is immense. While I lay there, taking a deep breath before relaxing, I said to myself, “The strain will be too much for me.” I was wrong. It was too much for the hook. The hook whizzed out, everything flew at me at once, and I remembered no more….

As I limped into bed, I trod heavily upon something sharp. I shrieked and bent down to see what had bitten me. It was a tin plate bearing the word “LADIES.”

* * * * *

“Well?” said Adela a week later.

I looked at her for a long time. “When did you last use the Hyperion?” I asked.

“About a year ago.”

“Ah!… You don’t remember the chart that went with it?”

“Not well. Except, of course, that each exercise was arranged for a particular object, according to what you wanted.”

“Exactly. So I discovered yesterday. It was in very small type, and I missed it at first.”

“Well, how many did you do?”

“I limited myself to exercises 10, 15 and 28. Do you happen to remember what those are for?”

“Not particularly.”

“No. Well, I started with No. 10. No. 10 you may recall is one of the most perilous. I nearly died over No. 10. And when I had been doing it for a week I discovered what its particular object was.”


‘To round the forearm’! Yes, madam,” I said bitterly, “I have spent a week of agony … and I have rounded one forearm.”

“Why didn’t you try another?”

“I did. I tried No. 15. Six times in the pursuit of No. 15 have I been shot up to the ceiling by the left foot … and what for, Adela? ‘To arch the instep’! Look at my instep! Why should I want to arch it?”

“I wish I could remember which chart I sent you,” said Adela, wrinkling her brow.

“It was the wrong one,” I said….

There was a long silence.

“Oh,” said Adela suddenly, “you never told me about No. 28.”

“Pardon me,” I said, “I cannot bear to speak of 28.”

“Why, was it even more unsuitable than the other two?”

“I found, when I had done it six times that its object was stated to be, ‘To remove double chin.’ That, however, was not the real effect. And, so I crossed out the false comment and wrote the true one in its place.”

“And what is that?” asked Adela.

To remove the hook,” I said gloomily.