The Landlady by Roald Dahl (PDF - Online Reading - Download - Summary)

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The Landlady is a short horror story by Roald Dahl. It initially appeared in The New Yorker, along with other short stories that would later be reprinted in the 1960 anthology, Kiss.

Summary

Billy Weaver is a seventeen-year-old who has traveled by train from London to Bath to start a new job. Looking for accommodation, he comes across a boarding house and is strangely attracted to its sign that says "Bed and Breakfast". Through the window, he notices a parrot in a cage and a dachshund sleeping on the floor. When he rings the bell, a middle-aged landlady answers instantly. Billy discovers that her pension is extremely cheap and he finds the woman somewhat eccentric and absent-minded, but very friendly. When Billy signs his guest book, he finds only two names, both dated more than two years ago: Christopher Mulholland and Gregory W.
 
Temple: Names that seem oddly familiar to Billy. The landlady invites Billy over for tea and Billy tries to remember where he previously heard the names in the guest book. He seems to recall that Mulholland was an Eton schoolboy whose disappearance was reported in the papers. The landlady assures Billy that her Mulholland was a Cambridge student and that Mulholland and Temple are still staying upstairs in his rooming house. She says that Billy is a handsome young man, as are the other two guests.
 
Billy is shocked to discover that the parrot and dachshund he had seen through the window are stuffed. The owner says that she stuffs all of her pets when they die. Billy discovers that his tea tastes slightly like bitter almonds. He asks the landlady if he has had any other guests since the two youngsters. The owner replies, "No, dear. Just you." (The implication is that the landlady has poisoned Billy's tea with cyanide and intends to stuff his corpse, as she did with Mulholland and Temple.)

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The Landlady