Letter to the Editor
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.