Living Beyond My Means[16 Trandary 4261]
My allowance for lodging is not the largest amount of my allowance, in ratio of lozens per unit need. That would, I think, be books. To some extent this is reasonable: I am, personally, not the largest person in Vheshrame, and can quite comfortably curl up in any fireplace to sleep.
Still, it is good to have bookcases, especially given how generous my book allowance is. It is good to have a kitchen, if only so that I can occasionally sleep in the oven for variety. It is good to have a parlor, so that friends can come visit. A closet or two would be almost nearly crucial, for storage of ribbons and other garments.
And I've generally preferred living with people, Dubaille excepted. (Well, of course I despise and despair living with Dustweed, but not the part that actually involves living with zir.)
So, I returned to the dread lair and office of Nullfister Roogrie -- bringing Ghirbis Vlaan in case I needed a strong sword-arm for the occasion(*) -- and resumed a conversation from a week and a day ago. He says that the tenants of Quelldrie House are all graduating or otherwise leaving, and that, if we can promise to rent the whole of the mansion rather than making him find people for two of the rooms as happened last year, he will (1) reserve it for us starting now, and (2) give us a modest discount on the first month's rent.
So we went to look at it.
Expedition to Quelldrie House
*KNORCK* *KNORCK* *KNORCK* (Somehow Nullfister Roogrie manages to put R's in when he knocks. It must be a landlord's trick -- otherwise they would be landlods I suppose -- for I've never heard anyone else do it. (**))
One can see why Roogrie had so much trouble renting two of the rooms in Quelldrie House. The other three rooms are full of Cani. Lots and lots of Cani. Actually the two rooms that are supposedly empty have Cani supplies and impedimentia and spare furniture in them -- as do both parlors and the kitchen, the three bedrooms, the charming turret or cupola sort of thing on top, the wine cellar, the cheese cellar, the root cellar, the mushroom cellar, the pantry, the sub-pantry, and the sub-sub-pantry. Oh, and the Banquet Hall, the Gallery of Mirrors, and the Brocade Room.
Strictly speaking the Banquet Hall is a dining room of respectable size for eight or ten people; the Gallery of Mirrors could more properly be called the Bathing Room With A Mirror In It; the Brocade Room contains the window that still has brocade drapes around it. Also the seven sorts of cellar comprise a total of three rooms -- which is not a small cellar really. If we are to pretend to be living like the wealthy and powerful, we must give impressive names where we can.
Nullfister apologized for this and that.
- A half-barrel (total) of gnawed bones, which might reasonably have been evicted to the public places of rubbish the night before and nobody would have minded it.
- A rick of broadsheets, greater by far than Dustweed's -- and, unlike zir modest collection, this one was prominently displayed in the very center of the parlor. Nullfister claimed that a very charming and adequate table lies under it. Ghirbis disagrees: a table must be very strong to support such a pile of papers, and nothing so strong could possible be charming. (Unless it were enchanted, but then we'd see it.)
- A crate, in one of the unoccupied bedrooms -- one which needs a name before anyone can live in it -- a crate which once contained fruits, and still contains small crawling insects who, presumably, wish that the crate still contained fruit. It was, according to a Cani, the possession of a former resident who had decamped suddenly, leaving many debts and a few possessions behind, which Nullfister had agreed to clean up and which Nullfister had not done.
- A modest supply of unwashed leather stewpots. (This is familiar from our current home. Ghirbis and I made a pact that, if one of us invites Dubaille to live at Quelldrie House, the other should drive seven hundred and eighty-eight nails into the inviter. In any case Jarmiet will be around.)
- At least a dozen further displays of evidence that, although Havune is fastidious, that is his personal perversion, not a species quality, and some Cani are otherwise.
- A partially-washed, partially-dressed Cani woman sitting on the couch in the Brocade Room, reading about forms of deitropism in growing vines, who growled at us as we came to look at the room.
- Four Cani wearing three dressing gowns (in total) in one of the bedroom, who immediately snarled at Nullfister. There was some rather loud and angry and almost violent discussion, including forceful statements that (1) the Cani had agreed to pay their overdue rent by the end of the second week of the month; (2) it was only the 16th, not the 18th; (3) it had already been agreed that the extra Cani living there would not pay additional rent if they cleaned the place up, and (4) it was not yet the Hour of Judgement on the cleaning, and (5) since the overdue rent included rent on one of the two rooms not being used (except, minimally, for storage) and which Nullfister could potentially rent if he weren't so wicked and cruel and incompetant and vile, items (1-4) should be given proper consideration. Nullfister started off agreeing with (1-5), but after getting his third shouting-at by the Cani after expressing loud and angry and almost violent agreement, shouted back that (6) the Cani were not to be living there any more after the end of the term, (7) if huge piles of junk and discardimentia were still there, the Cani would be paying for their junking and discarding; and (8) he, Nullfister, was quite serious about the Cani being gone, and indeed he was showing the house to other prospective renters.
The last item did not endear us to the Cani in any way, it may be added.
But on the whole, Quelldrie House is a fairly nice if a bit battered old building, with a bit of a courtyard inside it with a flowering pear tree and a flowering pren tree, and a little fountain that could probably be made to fount with a bit of work. And Nullfister gave in detail his plans for sending the seven Herethroy who work for him there, with buckets and scrubs and mops and brooms and basket-packs and scrapers and soap and candles and fumigatories and many other mighty implements, so that in a day of work it will be both clean and pleasant no matter what the Cani do to it in the meantime. We do not entirely believe him in every detail, but probably he will do well enough.
So Ghirbis and I committed our entire allowances for lodging, and somewhat more besides. Now we need three or four or five more people -- we each will not share a bedroom (save by our own choosing), but perhaps some people will want to.
Oh, and we arranged with Jarmiet that she should be the maid for the whole of Quelldrie House, with no other duties.