Because of poor weather, Miles Miller and his bride, Franny Crowell Miller, must abandon their hotel reservations in Bardstown, Kentucky, and spend the first night of their honeymoon in the same local hotel in which Miles stayed immediately before his marriage.
The story begins in a locker room of the country club where the bride, Franny, and the country club maid, Bernice, are meeting the groom, Miles, so that the couple may leave for their honeymoon undetected by their guests upstairs in the ballroom. Franny is naïve, untraveled, and possessed of only a finishing school education, but she has a certain self-confidence in the narrow, affluent, country club milieu in which she has been reared. She betrays her skittishness when she mistakenly fears that Miles is not in the locker room to meet her, but the pair are reunited and leave on their wedding trip after Franny hugs the maid Bernice, for whom she has never previously cared.
The locker room scene sets the tone of the story and begins to suggest the reservations that both partners feel going into their marriage. The backgrounds of the bride and groom—she a local girl, he an attractive stranger from California—are woven into the plot, as are the concerns and reservations of the two people as they enter matrimony.
When they arrive at the hotel, the bride imagines that the doorman and bellboys are leering at her in a knowing way, thus underscoring her nervous virginal state. Further embarrassment is avoided when a woman who is obviously a prostitute joins the couple in the elevator but deliberately debarks on a different floor so as not to embarrass the bride.
As the bride and groom sip champagne in their room, all seems well until Franny accidentally locks herself in the bathroom and cannot get out. As Miles tries unsuccessfully to take the door off its hinges, tension mounts and the couple start to hurl accusations of minor duplicity at each other. Franny charges that she had her mother write to friends in California to check up on Miles’s family and that she put her father up to testing Miles to be sure he was not after her money; further, Miles carried on a flirtation with one of Franny’s friends and slapped Franny once when he was jealous of her kissing another man at a party. The situation is deteriorating badly when Franny discovers that the bathroom also has a door connecting to the next room. The couple in the next room, the assistant manager of the hotel, Bill Carlisle, and the prostitute, have heard the crying and shouting and discover the connecting door as well.
Franny does not know who is in the next room, but she both desires their help and fears having them see her in her negligee and nightgown. The assistant manager uses his pass key to unlock the bathroom door from his side, then cowers in the bed with a sheet over his head so he cannot be recognized. The prostitute, who is fully clothed, sees Franny dash into the waiting arms of Miles, who is standing in the hall in his pajamas. Franny recognizes her rescuers in the next room, as does Miles, but he tries unsuccessfully to convince her she is mistaken. She is not deceived, but they drop the subject in favor of discussing their newfound knowledge about each other. Relieved to have gotten their guilty admissions off their chests, they sincerely believe that they will never deceive each other again or be troubled by differences in their upbringing or by their mixed motives in marrying each other.