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by Robert Louis Stevenson
The original, squashed down to read in about 25 minutes
At least since Descartes the apparent dual nature of humans has been a puzzle. Stevenson gave it solid form in this story which, by one account, he discovered in a dream, then burned his first draft, only to re-write it with the help of a considerable quantity of cocaine. Jekyll and Hyde has provided the basis for 'The Hulk', 'The Nutty Professor' and the whole superhero genre, as well as more than 120 stage and film adaptations.
For more works by Robert Louis Stevenson, see The Index
STORY OF THE DOOR
MR. UTTERSON the lawyer was a man of a rugged countenance that was never lighted by a smile; cold and embarrassed in discourse, yet somehow lovable.
It was a nut to crack for many, the bond that united him to Mr. Richard Enfield, his distant kinsman. It was reported by those who encountered them in their Sunday walks, that they said nothing and looked singularly dull.
It chanced on one of these rambles that their way led down a by-street in a busy quarter of London.
Two doors from one corner a sinister block of building thrust forward its gable on the street. It was two stories high; showed no window, nothing but a blistered door on the lower story. Tramps slouched into the recess and struck matches on the panels.
Mr Enfield lifted up his cane and pointed. "Did you ever remark that door?" he asked; "It is connected in my mind," added he, "with a very odd story."
"I was coming home about three o'clock of a black winter morning, and I saw a little man stumping along eastward at a good walk, and a girl of maybe eight or ten who was running as hard as she was able down a cross street. Well, sir, the two ran into one another at the corner; and then came the horrible part of the thing; for the man trampled calmly over the child's body and left her screaming on the ground. It sounds nothing to hear, but it was hellish to see. It wasn't like a man; it was like some damned Juggernaut. I gave a view-halloa, took to my heels, collared my gentleman, and brought him back to where there was already quite a group about the screaming child.
'If you choose to make capital out of this accident,' said he, 'I am naturally helpless. Name your figure.' Well, we screwed him up to a hundred pounds for the child's family.
The next thing was to get the money; and where do you think he carried us but to that place with the door? - whipped out a key, went in, and presently came back with ten pounds in gold and a cheque for the balance on Coutts's.
His name was Hyde. He is not easy to describe. I never saw a man I so disliked, and yet I scarce know why.
Let us make a bargain never to refer to this again."
"With all my heart," said the lawyer.
SEARCH FOR MR. HYDE
That evening Mr. Utterson took up a candle and went into his business-room. There he opened his safe, took from the most private part of it a document endorsed on the envelope as 'Dr. Jekyll's Will', and sat down with a clouded brow to study its contents.
The will was holograph, for Mr. Utterson had refused to lend assistance in the making of it. It provided that, in case of the decease, disappearance or unexplained absence of Henry Jekyll, M.D., all his possessions were to pass into the hands of his "friend and benefactor Edward Hyde."
With that he blew out his candle, put on a great-coat, and set forth in the direction of Cavendish Square, that citadel of medicine, where his friend, the great Dr. Lanyon, had his house and received his crowding patients.
The hearty, healthy, dapper, red-faced gentleman, at sight of Mr. Utterson, sprang up from his chair and welcomed him with both hands.
"I suppose, Lanyon," said he "you and I must be the two oldest friends that Henry Jekyll has?"
"We were," was the reply. "But it is more than ten years since Henry Jekyll became too fanciful for me. Such unscientific balderdash," added the doctor.
"Did you ever come across a protégé of his - one Hyde?" he asked.
"No. Never heard of him."
That was the amount of information that the lawyer carried back with him to the great, dark bed on which he tossed to and fro, until the small hours of the morning began to grow large.
From that time forward, Mr. Utterson began to haunt the door in the by-street. "If he be Mr. Hyde," he had thought, "I shall be Mr. Seek."
And at last his patience was rewarded. The man was small and very plainly dressed, and the look of him, even at that distance, went somehow strongly against the watcher's inclination. Mr. Utterson stepped out and touched him on the shoulder as he passed.
"Mr. Hyde, I think? I am an old friend of Dr. Jekyll's, I thought you might admit me."
"You will not find Dr. Jekyll; he is from home," replied Mr. Hyde."But it is as well we have, met; and you should have my address." And he gave a number of a street in Soho.
Mr. Hyde was pale and dwarfish, he gave an impression of deformity without any nameable malformation, he had a displeasing smile, but these could not explain the disgust, loathing, and fear with which Mr. Utterson regarded him.
The other snarled aloud into a savage laugh; and the next moment, with extraordinary quickness, he had unlocked the door and disappeared into the house.
Round the corner there was a square of ancient, handsome houses, now for the most part decayed from their high estate and let in flats and chambers. One house, however, was still occupied entire; and at the door of this, Mr. Utterson stopped and knocked. A well-dressed, elderly servant opened the door.
"Is Dr. Jekyll at home, Poole?" asked the lawyer.
"Dr. Jekyll" said Poole, "Has gone out."
"I saw Mr. Hyde go in by the old dissecting-room door, Poole," he said. "Is that right, when Dr. Jekyll is from home?"
"Quite right, Mr. Utterson, sir," replied the servant. "Mr. Hyde has a key. We have all orders to obey him. Good-night, Mr. Utterson."
And the lawyer set out homeward with a very heavy heart. "Poor Harry Jekyll," he thought, "he is in deep waters."
THE CAREW MURDER CASE
Nearly a year later, in the month of October, 18 -, London was startled by a crime of singular ferocity.
A maid servant became aware from her window of an aged and beautiful gentleman with white hair, and a very small gentleman she was surprised to recognise as a certain Mr. Hyde, who had once visited her master and for whom she had conceived a dislike. Next moment, with ape-like fury, Hyde was trampling his victim under foot and hailing down a storm of blows, under which the bones were audibly shattered. She called the police.
The stick with which the deed had been done had broken in the middle under the stress of this insensate cruelty; and one splintered half had rolled in the neighbouring gutter - the other, without doubt, had been carried away by the murderer.
A purse and a gold watch were found upon the victim: but no cards or papers, except a sealed and stamped envelope, which bore the name and address of Mr. Utterson.
Thus it was Mr Utterson who had the sad task of identifying the body as that of his client, the Member of Parliament Sir Danvers Carew. He quailed at the name of Hyde, and showed his police hosts to the dingy address in Soho, but Hyde was long gone and the servants tight-lipped.
INCIDENT OF THE LETTER
It was late that afternoon, when Mr. Utterson found his way to Dr. Jekyll's door, where he was at once admitted by Poole, and carried down by the kitchen offices and across a yard which had once been a garden, to the dingy, windowless building which was indifferently known as the laboratory or the dissecting-rooms.
A fire burned in the grate; a lamp was set lighted on the chimney shelf, for even in the houses the fog began to lie thickly; and there, close up to the warmth, sat Dr. Jekyll, looking deadly sick.
"And now," said Mr. Utterson, as soon as Poole had left them, "you have heard the news?"
The doctor shuddered.
"You have not been mad enough to hide this fellow?"
"I bind my honour to you that I am done with him in this world." replied Jekyll; "But I have received a letter; and I should like to leave it in your hands, Utterson; I have great trust in you."
The letter was written in an odd, upright hand and signed 'Edward Hyde'. The lawyer liked this letter well enough; it put a better colour on the intimacy than he had looked for; and he blamed himself for some of his past suspicions.
Presently Utterson sat on one side of his own hearth, with Mr. Guest, his head clerk, upon the other, and midway between them a bottle of old wine that had long dwelt unsunned in the foundations of his house, the glow of hot autumn afternoons on hillside vineyards ready to be set free and to disperse the fogs of London.
Guest was a great student and critic of handwriting. The clerk, besides, was a man of counsel.
"This is a sad business about Sir Danvers," he said. "The man, of course, was mad."
"I should like to hear your views on that," replied Utterson. "I have a document here in his handwriting. Here it is; a murderer's autograph. And beside it a second note, from my friend Dr. Jekyll."
The clerk laid the two sheets of paper alongside and sedulously compared their contents.
"Well, sir," he said, "there's a rather singular resemblance; the two hands are in many points identical: only differently sloped."
"Rather quaint," said Utterson.
"What!" he thought. "Henry Jekyll forge for a murderer!" And his blood ran cold in his veins.
THE LAST NIGHT
Some days later, Mr. Utterson was sitting by his fireside one evening after dinner, when he was surprised to receive a visit from Poole.
"What brings you here?" he cried; "is the doctor ill?"
"I think there's been foul play," said Poole, hoarsely.
Mr. Utterson's only answer was to rise and get his hat and great-coat.. It was a wild, cold, seasonable night of March, with a pale moon, lying on her back as though the wind had tilted her. Mr. Utterson thought he had never seen that part of London so deserted. Soon he found himself in front of Jekyll's door
The servant knocked in a very guarded manner; and a voice asked from within, "Is that you, Poole?"
"It's all right," said Poole. "Open the door."
"Jekyll," cried Utterson, with a loud voice, "I demand to see you." He paused a moment.
"Utterson," said the voice, "for God's sake, have mercy!"
"Ah, that's not Jekyll's voice - it's Hyde's!" cried Utterson. "Down with the door, Poole!"
A blow shook the building, and the red baize door leaped against the lock and hinges.
And there lay the cabinet before their eyes in the quiet lamplight, a good fire glowing on the hearth, the kettle singing its thin strain, and the things laid out for tea: the quietest room, you would have said, and, but for the glazed presses full of chemicals, the most commonplace in London.
Right in the midst there lay the body of a man sorely contorted and still twitching.
They drew near on tiptoe, turned it on its back and beheld the face of Edward Hyde. He was dressed in clothes far too large for him, life was quite gone; and by the crushed phial in the hand and the strong smell of kernels that hung upon the air, Utterson knew that he was looking on the body of a self-destroyer.
"We have come too late." he said sternly, "Hyde is gone to his account; and it only remains for us to find the body of your master."
Nowhere was there any trace of Henry Jekyll, dead or alive.
At one table, there were traces of chemical work, and, among the neat array of papers, a large envelope was uppermost, and bore, in the doctor's hand, the name of Mr. Utterson.
It was a brief note in the doctor's hand and dated at the top. "O Poole!" the lawyer cried, "he was alive and here this day."
And with that he brought the paper to his eyes and read as follows:
HENRY JEKYLL'S STATEMENT
I WAS born in the year 18 - to a large fortune, endowed with excellent parts, inclined by nature to industry, fond of the respect of the wise and good among my fellow-men, and thus with every guarantee of an honourable and distinguished future.
It was rather the exacting nature of my aspirations than any particular degradation in my faults, that severed in me those provinces of good and ill which divide and compound man's dual nature. And it chanced that the direction of my scientific studies, which led toward the mystic and the transcendental, shed a strong light on this consciousness of the perennial war among my members.
With every day I drew steadily nearer to that truth: that man is not truly one, but truly two. I began to perceive more deeply than it has ever yet been stated, the trembling immateriality, the mist-like transience of this seemingly so solid body in which we walk attired.
I not only recognised my natural body for the mere aura and effulgence of the powers that made up my spirit, but managed to compound a drug by which these powers should be dethroned from their supremacy. I hesitated long before I put this theory to the test of practice. I knew well that I risked death; but the temptation of a discovery so singular and profound, at last overcame the suggestions of alarm.
I purchased a large quantity of a particular salt which I knew, from my experiments, to be the last ingredient required; and late one accursed night, I compounded the elements, watched them boil and smoke together in the glass, and when the ebullition had subsided, with a strong glow of courage, drank off the potion.
The most racking pangs succeeded: a grinding in the bones, deadly nausea, and a horror of the spirit that cannot be exceeded at the hour of birth or death. Then these agonies began swiftly to subside, and I came to myself as if out of a great sickness.
I felt younger, lighter, happier in body; within I was conscious of a heady recklessness, an unknown but not an innocent freedom of the soul. I knew myself, at the first breath of this new life, to be more wicked, tenfold more wicked, sold a slave to my original evil; and the thought braced and delighted me like wine.
I stretched out my hands and was suddenly aware that I had lost in stature. The evil side of my nature was less robust and less developed than the good which I had just deposed. And hence, as I think, it came about that Edward Hyde was so much smaller, slighter, and younger than Henry Jekyll.
And yet when I looked upon that ugly idol in the glass, I was conscious of no repugnance, rather of a leap of welcome. This, too, was myself. It seemed natural and human.
That night I had come to the fatal cross-roads.
I would still be merrily disposed at times; and as my pleasures were (to say the least) undignified, I had but to drink the cup, to doff at once the body of the noted professor, and to assume, like a thick cloak, that of Edward Hyde.
I took and furnished that house in Soho, and engaged as housekeeper a creature whom I well knew to be silent and unscrupulous. On the other side, I announced to my servants that a Mr. Hyde (whom I described) was to have full liberty and power about my house in the square.
I next drew up that will to which you so much objected; so that if anything befell me in the person of Dr. Jekyll, I could enter on that of Edward Hyde without pecuniary loss. And thus fortified, as I supposed, on every side, I began to profit by the strange immunities of my position.
Think of it - I did not even exist! Let me but escape into my laboratory door, give me but a second or two to mix and swallow the draught that I had always standing ready; and whatever he had done, Edward Hyde would pass away like the stain of breath upon a mirror; and there in his stead, quietly at home, trimming the midnight lamp in his study, a man who could afford to laugh at suspicion, would be Henry Jekyll.
The pleasures which I made haste to seek in my disguise were, as I have said, undignified; I would scarce use a harder term. But in the hands of Edward Hyde, they soon began to turn toward the monstrous.
Some while before the murder of Sir Danvers, I had been out for one of my adventures, had returned at a late hour, and woke the next day in bed with somewhat odd sensations. My waking eyes fell upon my hand. The hand which I now saw in the yellow light of a mid-London morning, lying half shut on the bed-clothes, was lean, corded, knuckly, of a dusky pallor and thickly shaded with a swart growth of hair.
Yes, I had gone to bed Henry Jekyll, I had awakened Edward Hyde.
The next day, came the news that a murder had been seen, that the guilt of Hyde was patent to the world, and that the victim was a man high in public estimation. It was not only a crime, it had been a tragic folly.
I resolved to abjure Hyde, and in my future conduct to redeem the past; and I can say with honesty that my resolve was fruitful of some good.
It was a fine, clear, January day, wet under foot where the frost had melted, but cloudless overhead; and the Regent's Park was full of winter chirrupings and sweet with spring odours. I sat in the sun on a bench; the animal within me licking the chops of memory. I was, I reflected, like my neighbours; and then I smiled, comparing my active goodwill with the lazy cruelty of their neglect.
And at the very moment of that vain-glorious thought, a qualm came over me, a horrid nausea and the most deadly shuddering. I looked down; my clothes hung formlessly on my shrunken limbs; the hand that lay on my knee was corded and hairy. I was once more Edward Hyde, a known murderer, thrall to the gallows.
My drugs were in one of the presses of my cabinet; how was I to reach them? If I sought to enter by the house, my own servants would consign me to the gallows.
Thereupon, I arranged my clothes as best I could, and summoning a passing hansom, drove to an hotel. At the inn, the attendants trembled at my appearance, but obsequiously took my orders. In a private room the creature composed his important letters.
He dined alone with his fears, the waiter visibly quailing before his eye; and, when the night was fully come, he set forth in the corner of a closed cab.
He - I cannot say, I - thinking the driver had begun to grow suspicious, discharged the cab and ventured on foot, attired in his misfitting clothes. Once a woman spoke to him, offering, I think, a box of lights. He smote her in the face, and she fled.
I came home to my own house and got into bed. I awoke in the morning shaken, weakened, but refreshed. I was once more at home, in my own house and close to my drugs. It took on this occasion a double dose to recall me to myself; and alas! Six hours after, as I sat looking sadly in the fire, the pangs returned, and the drug had to be re-administered.
In short, from that day forth it seemed only by a great effort as of gymnastics, and only under the immediate stimulation of the drug, that I was able to wear the countenance of Jekyll. At all hours of the day and night, I would be taken with the premonitory shudder; above all, if I slept, or even dozed for a moment in my chair, it was always as Hyde that I awakened.
Under the strain of this continually-impending doom and sleeplessness I became a creature weak both in body and mind, and solely occupied by one thought: the horror of my other self.
My provision of the salt, which had never been renewed since the date of the first experiment, began to run low. I sent out for a fresh supply; I drank it and it was without efficiency, and I am now persuaded that my first supply was impure, and that it was that unknown impurity which lent efficacy to the draught.
I am now finishing this statement under the influence of the last of the old powders. Half an hour from now I shall again and for ever re-indue that hated personality. Will Hyde die upon the scaffold? or will he find courage to release himself at the last moment? Here then, as I lay down the pen and proceed to seal up my confession, I bring the life of that unhappy Henry Jekyll to an end.
● Copyright © 2014 Glyn Hughes.
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