The Landlady by Roald Dahl

The Landlady by Roald Dahl

Billy was going from London by a slow train. It was in the afternoon. By evening, he had reached his destination. It was dark around, and the air was very cold. Billy stopped a lonely passer-by and asked if there was a cheap hotel nearby. He was advised to go to the nearest pub. There he could rent a room. The pub was about a kilometer from here. Billy had never been to this city before; he had no acquaintances there. But he arrived upon the instructions of the chief. The chief ordered to find a house and report back after that. Billy was less than eighteen years old, but he tried to act like an adult. He wanted to become a successful businessman, and they are all serious and always peppy. When he got to the pub, he saw that it was a very cozy place. The fire was burning in the fireplace. A dog was sleeping on the floor.

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The Landlady by Roald Dahl

Billy Weaver had travelled down from London on the slow afternoon train, changing trains on the way, and by the time he got to Bath it was about nine o’clock in the evening. The air was very cold and the wind was like a flat blade of ice on his cheeks.

‘Excuse me,’ he said, ‘but is there a fairly cheap hotel not too far away from here?’

The Landlady by Roald Dahl

‘Try the pub down the road,’ a man at the station said, pointing. ‘They might take you in. It’s about a kilometer along on the other side.’

Billy thanked him and picked up his suitcase and set out to walk to the inn. He had never been to Bath before. He didn’t know anyone who lived there, but his boss at the Head Office in London had told him it was a splendid city. ‘Find your own accommodation,’ he had said, ‘and then go along and report to the Local Manager as soon as you’ve got yourself settled.’

Billy was seventeen years old. He was wearing a new dark blue overcoat, a new brown hat, a new brown suit, and he was feeling fine. He walked briskly down the street. He was trying to do everything briskly these days. All successful businessmen, he had decided, were brisk. The top men at Head Office were brisk all the time. They were amazing.

There were no shops on this wide street, only a line of tall houses on each side, all of them looking the same. They had grand entrances and four or five steps going up to their front doors, and it was obvious that they had been very grand houses indeed. But now, even in the darkness, he could see that the paint was coming off the doors and windows, and that the handsome white exteriors had cracks and patches from lack of repair.

Suddenly, in a downstairs window that was illuminated by a nearby street lamp, Billy saw a printed notice leaning against the glass in one of the windows. It said BED AND BREAKFAST…

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