The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde HTML version

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That evening Mr. Utterson came home to his bachelor house in sombre spirits and sat
down to dinner without relish. It was his custom of a Sunday, when this meal was over, to
sit close by the fire, a volume of some dry divinity on his reading desk, until the clock of
the neighbouring church rang out the hour of twelve, when he would go soberly and
gratefully to bed. On this night however, as soon as the cloth was taken away, he 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
though he took charge of it now that it was made, had refused to lend the least assistance
in the making of it; it provided not only that, in case of the decease of Henry Jekyll,
M.D., D.C.L., L.L.D., F.R.S., etc., all his possessions were to pass into the hands of his
"friend and benefactor Edward Hyde," but that in case of Dr. Jekyll's "disappearance or
unexplained absence for any period exceeding three calendar months," the said Edward
Hyde should step into the said Henry Jekyll's shoes without further delay and free from
any burthen or obligation beyond the payment of a few small sums to the members of the
doctor's household. This document had long been the lawyer's eyesore. It offended him
both as a lawyer and as a lover of the sane and customary sides of life, to whom the
fanciful was the immodest. And hitherto it was his ignorance of Mr. Hyde that had
swelled his indignation; now, by a sudden turn, it was his knowledge. It was already bad
enough when the name was but a name of which he could learn no more. It was worse
when it began to be clothed upon with detestable attributes; and out of the shifting,
insubstantial mists that had so long baffled his eye, there leaped up the sudden, definite
presentment of a fiend.
"I thought it was madness," he said, as he replaced the obnoxious paper in the safe,
"and now I begin to fear it is disgrace."
With that he blew out his candle, put on a greatcoat, 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. "If anyone knows, it will be Lanyon," he
had thought.
The solemn butler knew and welcomed him; he was subjected to no stage of delay, but
ushered direct from the door to the dining-room where Dr. Lanyon sat alone over his
wine. This was a hearty, healthy, dapper, red-faced gentleman, with a shock of hair
prematurely white, and a boisterous and decided manner. At sight of Mr. Utterson, he
sprang up from his chair and welcomed him with both hands. The geniality, as was the
way of the man, was somewhat theatrical to the eye; but it reposed on genuine feeling.
For these two were old friends, old mates both at school and college, both thorough
respectors of themselves and of each other, and what does not always follow, men who
thoroughly enjoyed each other's company.
After a little rambling talk, the lawyer led up to the subject which so disagreeably
preoccupied his mind.