The Uninhabited House

Mrs J. H. Riddell
The Uninhabited House [with

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Title: The Uninhabited House
Author: Mrs. J. H. Riddell
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If ever a residence, "suitable in every respect for a family of position,"
haunted a lawyer's offices, the "Uninhabited House," about which I
have a story to tell, haunted those of Messrs. Craven and Son, No. 200,
Buckingham Street, Strand.
It did not matter in the least whether it happened to be let or unlet: in
either case, it never allowed Mr. Craven or his clerks, of whom I was
one, to forget its existence.
When let, we were in perpetual hot water with the tenant; when unlet,
we had to endeavour to find some tenant to take that unlucky house.
Happy were we when we could get an agreement signed for a couple of
years--although we always had misgivings that the war waged with the
last occupant would probably have to be renewed with his successor.
Still, when we were able to let the desirable residence to a solvent
individual, even for twelve months, Mr. Craven rejoiced.
He knew how to proceed with the tenants who came blustering, or
threatening, or complaining, or bemoaning; but he did not know what
to do with Miss Blake and her letters, when no person was liable for the
All lawyers--I am one myself, and can speak from a long and varied
experience--all lawyers, even the very hardest, have one client, at all
events, towards whom they exhibit much forbearance, for whom they
feel a certain sympathy, and in whose interests they take a vast deal of

trouble for very little pecuniary profit.
A client of this kind favours me with his business--he has favoured me
with it for many years past. Each first of January I register a vow he
shall cost me no more time or money. On each last day of December I
find he is deeper in my debt than he was on the same date a
twelvemonth previous.
I often wonder how this is--why we, so fierce to one human being,
possibly honest and well-meaning enough, should be as wax in the
hand of the moulder, when another individual, perhaps utterly
disreputable, refuses to take "No" for an answer.
Do we purchase our indulgences in this way? Do we square our
accounts with our own consciences by remembering that, if we have
been as stone to Dick, Tom, and Harry, we have melted at the first
appeal of Jack?
My principal, Mr. Craven--than whom a better man never
breathed--had an unprofitable client, for whom he entertained feelings
of the profoundest pity, whom he treated with a rare courtesy. That lady
was Miss Blake; and when the old house on the Thames stood
tenantless, Mr. Craven's bed did not prove one of roses.
In our firm there was no son--Mr. Craven had been the son; but the old
father was dead, and our chief's wife had brought him only daughters.
Still the title of the firm remained the same, and Mr. Craven's own
signature also.
He had been junior for such a number of years, that, when Death sent a
royal invitation to his senior, he was so accustomed to the old form,
that he, and all in his employment, tacitly agreed it was only fitting he
should remain junior to the end.
A good man. I, of all human beings, have reason to speak well of him.
Even putting the undoubted fact of all lawyers keeping one
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