Letter to the Editor

TARANT'S LODGINGS

Sir!

Sad I am to trouble you with any criticism of your fine newspaper, and never would I have written had I not seen, in these very pages, a most inaccurate and slanderous letter. This same came from the poisonous pen of a Mr. Derry Pettibone of Leahbo, and you printed it not three days past, in the Monday edition. I realize you are not to be held to account for what Mr. Pettibone wrote, since he is no wise employed as a reporter for the Times. Nevertheless, his letter is nothing but lies from start to finish - and since those lies are chiefly concerned with myself and the house I keep for lodgers in Hereford-street, I feel compelled to make some answer to them.

Mr. Pettibone claims that he came to Hereford-street in search of rooms. This much is true; he came to my door at tea time, in the middle of a thunderstorm, and interrupted me at my repast. He neglects to mention that he and his wife, "with the na´ve simplicity common to the folk of Leahbo", had been wandering through the muddy streets barefoot for close to an hour, lost and looking for the address. It was therefore impossible for me to ask them to remove or clean their shoes - since they were wearing none - before they entered my house, and they tracked in a very great deal of mud with their uncommonly large feet!

Mr. Pettibone complains of my "demeanor", but he can guess at no cause. Perhaps it was the countless bags and suitcases which he was too "tuckered" to carry to his own rooms, obliging a poor widow woman to make several trips up the stairs? It may also be that I took it amiss to find Mr. Pettibone and his lady wife had made himself entirely too comfortable, while I was engaged in carrying his luggage to the apartment he had rented. I may have expressed some displeasure when I returned to my parlor and found his huge, hairy, mud-stained feet propped up on my table, quite ruining my lace table-cover. And I may have had some few words to say about the tea cakes and cucumber sandwiches I had laid out for several other guests being quite demolished - every crumb disposed of, without so much as a by-your-leave, while others were left still hungry.

As to the charge that my house is plagued by teakettle beetles, this is nonsense. If there were beetles in Mr. Pettibone's rooms, he brought them in his baggage, which had certainly seen better days - and worse accommodations than those I offer, I have no doubt. It is a long ride from Leahbo to Tarant; am I expected to credit that the Pettibones spent not a single night in a tavern, or roadside inn? They might have picked up these additional passengers anywhere along the way. It is my experience that one shouldn't try to buy a comfortable night too cheaply while traveling; a few shillings saved is never worth the grief that comes later!

After all I had suffered, Mr. Pettibone had the nerve to complain the following morning that my custom would not do, and demanded the return of the nine gold pieces I had received the night before - a sum which was to account for his rooms for a week. Naturally I would not return the money; not only had I earned the full measure in my duties as a luggage-handler alone, but I had already turned away other custom on his account for the previous three days, so as to be sure he would have lodgings when he came. He had engaged the room well in advance! In any case, I was forced to spend the better part of his money in ridding my house of the pests that he brought with him to his quarters, and so I suffered a loss on the venture. In the end I had but a few silver pieces left, after linens were laundered and bugs were banished; whereas in the same time I might have made several gold by letting the room to a cleaner and more considerate customer.

In short, Mr. Editor, I would advise all the lodging houses and landlords of Tarant to have a care, when renting their rooms to "rustic folk". Open your doors to a halfling and you will be sorry! What such folk lack in stature they make up in presumption and discourtesy, and after having abused your hospitality and tolerance in person, it seems they are inclined to malign you before the world.

Most sincerely,

Ill'yana Greymarke,
Hereford-street