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The Bath
by [?]

There are many points, or absence of points, about Skull Terrace that fit in with Jim’s casualness as against Bill’s character, therefore Blue’s Point Road ought to be James’s Street.

But just now, in the heat of summer, the terrace happens to be full, and all the blinds are decent–the two new-comers are newly come down to Skull Terrace, and the other blinds are looked up, washed, and fixed up by force of example or from very shame’s sake.

All of which seems to have nothing whatever to do with the story, except that the scene is down opposite my balcony as I think and smoke, and it is a blur on one of the most beautiful harbour views in the world.

I had been working hard all day, mending the fence, putting up a fowl-house and some lattice work and wire netting, and limewashing and painting. Labours of love. I’d rather build a fowl-house than a “pome” or story, any day. And when finished–the fowl-house, I mean–I sit and contemplate my handiwork with pure and unadulterated joy. And I take a candle out several times, after dark, to look at it again. I never got such pleasure out of rhyme, story, or first-class London Academy notice. I find it difficult to drag myself from the fowl-house, or whatever it is, to meals, and harder to this work, and I lie awake planning next day’s work until I fall asleep in the sleep of utter happy weariness. And I’m up and at it, before washing, at daylight. But I was a carpenter and housepainter first.

Well, it had been a long, close day, and I was very dirty and tired, but with the energy and restlessness of healthy, happy tiredness when work is unfinished. But I was out of two-inch nails, and the shops were shut.

Then it struck me to start up the copper and have a real warm bath after my own heart and ideas. The bathroom is outside, next the wash-house and copper. There were plenty of splinters and ends of softwood that were mine by right of purchase and labour. My landlady is, and always has been, sensitive on the subject of firewood. She’ll buy anything else to make the house comfortable and beautiful. She has been known to buy a piano for one of her nieces and burn rubbish in the stove the same day. I knew she was uneasy about the softwood odds and ends, but I couldn’t help that–she’d still be sentimental about them if she had a stack of firewood as big as the house. There’s at least one thing that most folk hate to buy–mine’s boot-laces or bone studs, so long as I can make pins or inked string do.

I put a bucket of water in the copper, started a fire under that sent sparks out of the wash-house flue at an alarming rate, filled the copper to the brim, and, in the absence of a lid, covered it with a piece of flattened galvanized iron I had.

I tacked the side edge of a strip of canvas to the matchboard wall along over the inner edge of the bath, fastened a short piece of gas-pipe to the outer edge, with pieces of string through holes made in it, and let it hang down over the bath, leaving a hole at the head for my head and shoulders. I was going to have a long, comfortable, and utterly lazy and drowsy hot water and steam bath, you know.

I fastened a piece of clothes-line round and over the head of the bath, and twisted an old toilet-table cover and a towel round it where it sagged into the bath, for a head rest-also to be soaped for where I couldn’t get at my back with my hands.

I went up to my room for some things, and it struck me to arrange two chairs by the bed–candle and matches and tobacco on one side, and a pile of Jack London, Kipling, and Yankee magazines on the other, with the last Lone Hand and Bulletin on top.