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The Landlady is a short story by Roald Dahl.

Plot summary

The story focuses on a 17-year old boy named Billy Weaver who has just stepped into the world of work. Arriving in Bathmarker for a business trip, he looks for a place to stay, and is recommended to the Bell and Dragon. While headed there, he comes upon a bed and breakfast sign which somehow hypnotizes him into checking out the boardinghouse. He presses the doorbell, and before he can lift his finger from the bell-button, the door opens and a middle-aged landlady appears. She treats him generously, giving him a floor of his own to stay on, and charging him much less than he expected. However, she also emits a sense of spookiness, which, though apparently Billy does not notice, appears quite evident to the reader.

In the inn's guestbook, he sees that only two other guests have stayed there—one older, the other younger, and both having arrived earlier than 2 years prior. Billy finds the names vaguely familiar from the newspaper, and on further reflection recalls that they "were both famous for the same thing."(being murdered) The landlady makes a comment about one of the two boys in past tense, to which Billy comments that he must have only left recently. The landlady replies that both of the guests are still residing at the inn. Billy then notices that the dog by the fireplace and the parrot he had noticed earlier were stuffed as he looks closer and touches the dog to examine it. She then tells him, "I stuff all my pets myself," and offers him more tea. Billy refuses because the tea "tasted faintly of bitter almonds". The author ends the story at its climax; the reader is left to infer what happens to Billy Weaver from the hints provided in the story.

Adaptations

The story was dramatized in an episode of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents", with the protagonist as a mysterious young man rather than a 17 year old boy.

It was also an episode of the series "Tales Of The Unexpected". The screen adaptation was also written by Roald Dahl.


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