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  • Publicado : 29 de março de 2013
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THE LANDLADY
ROALD DAHL
Billy Weaver had travelled down from
London on the slow afternoon train, with a
change at Swindon on the way, and by the
time he got to Bath it was about nine
o’clock in the evening and the moon was
coming up out of a clear starry sky over
the houses opposite the station entrance.
But the air was deadly cold and the wind
was like a flat blade of ice onhis cheeks.
“Excuse me,” he said, “but is there a
fairly cheap hotel not too far away from
here?”
“Try The Bell and Dragon,” the porter
answered, pointing down the road. “They
might take you in. It’s about a quarter of a
mile along on the other side.”
Billy thanked him and picked up his
suitcase and set out to walk the quartermile to The Bell and Dragon. He had
20 never beento Bath before. He didn’t know
anyone who lived there. But Mr
Greenslade at the Head Office in London
had told him it was a splendid city. “Find
your own lodgings,” he had said, “and
then go along and report to the Branch
Manager as soon as you’ve got yourself
settled.”
Billy was seventeen years old. He was
wearing a new navy-blue overcoat, a new
brown trilby hat, and a newbrown suit,
and he was feeling fine. He walked briskly
down the street. He was trying to do
everything briskly these days. Briskness,
he had decided, was the one common
characteristic of all successful
businessmen. The big shots up at Head
Office were absolutely fantastically brisk
all the time. They were amazing.
There were no shops on this wide street
40 that he was walkingalong, only a line of
tall houses on each side, all them
identical. They had porches and pillars
and four or five steps going up to their
front doors, and it was obvious that once
upon a time they had been very swanky
residences. But now, even in the
darkness, he could see that the paint was
peeling from the woodwork on their doors
and windows, and that the handsome
whitefaçades were cracked and blotchy from
neglect.
Suddenly, in a downstairs window that was
brilliantly illuminated by a street-lamp not six
yards away, Billy caught sight of a printed
notice propped up against the glass in one of
the upper panes. It said BED AND
BREAKFAST. There was a vase of yellow
chrysanthemums, tall and beautiful, standing
just underneath the notice.
60 He stoppedwalking. He moved a bit closer.
Green curtains (some sort of velvety
material) were hanging down on either side of
the window. The chrysanthemums looked
wonderful beside them. He went right up and
peered through the glass into the room, and
the first thing he saw was a bright fire burning
in the hearth. On the carpet in front of the fire,
a pretty little dachshund was curled upasleep
with its nose tucked into its belly.
The room itself, so far as he could see in
the half-darkness, was filled with pleasant
furniture. There was a baby-grand piano and
a big sofa and several plump armchairs; and
in one corner he spotted a large parrot in a
cage. Animals were usually a good sign in a
place like this, Billy told himself; and all in all,
it looked to him asthough it would be a pretty
decent house to stay in. Certainly it would be
more comfortable than The Bell and Dragon.
80 On the other hand, a pub would be more
congenial than a boarding-house. There
would be beer and darts in the evenings, and
lots of people to talk to, and it would probably
be a good bit cheaper, too. He had stayed a
couple of nights in a pub once before and hehad liked it. He had never stayed in any
boarding-houses, and, to be perfectly honest,
he was a tiny bit frightened of them. The
name itself conjured up images of watery
cabbage, rapacious landladies, and a
powerful smell of kippers in the living-room.
After dithering about like this in the cold for
two or three minutes, Billy decided that he
would walk on and take a look at The...
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