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The Order Of The Bath
by [?]

I retired to the library and thought it out. I hate writing business letters. The result is a mixture of formality and chattiness which seems to me all wrong.

My first letter to the landlord went like this:–

“DEAR SIR,–I enclose cheque in payment of last quarter’s rent. Our bath won’t run out properly. Yours faithfully.”

It is difficult to say just what is wrong with that letter, and yet it is obvious that something has happened to it. It isn’t right. I tried again.

“DEAR SIR,–Enclosed please find cheque in payment of enclosed account. I must ask you either to enlarge the exit to our bath or to supply an emergency door. At present my morning and evening baths are in serious danger of clashing. Yours faithfully.”

My third attempt had more sting in it:–

“DEAR SIR,–Unless you do something to our bath I cannot send you enclosed cheque in payment of enclosed account. Otherwise I would have. Yours faithfully.”

At this point I whistled to Celia and laid the letters before her.

“You see what it is,” I said. “I’m not quite getting the note.”

“But you’re so abrupt,” she said. “You must remember that this is all coming quite as a surprise to him. You want to lead up to it more gradually.”

“Ah, perhaps you’re right. Let’s try again.”

I tried again, with this result:–

“DEAR SIR,–In sending you a cheque in payment of last quarter’s rent I feel I must tell you how comfortable we are here. The only inconvenience–and it is indeed a trifling one, dear Sir–which we have experienced is in connection with the bathroom. Elegantly appointed and spacious as this room is, commodious as we find the actual bath itself, yet we feel that in the matter of the waste-pipe the high standard of efficiency so discernible elsewhere is sadly lacking. Were I alone I should not complain; but unfortunately there are two of us; and, for the second one, the weariness of waiting while the waters of the first bath exude drop by drop is almost more than can be borne. I speak with knowledge, for it is I who—-“

I tore the letter up and turned to Celia.

“I’m a fool,” I said. “I’ve just thought of something which will save me all this rotten business every morning.”

“I’m so glad. What is it?”

“Why, of course–in future I will go to the bath first.”

And I do. It is a ridiculously simple solution, and I cannot think why it never occurred to me before.