"And now," said Harry, "what is wrong?"
"You will not go away?" she cried, with a sudden break in her voice and beating her hands together in the very agony of impatience. "Oh, Harry, Harry, go away! Oh, go, and leave me to the fate that I deserve!"
"The fate?" repeated Harry. "What is this?"
"No fate," she resumed. "I do not know what I am saying. But I wish to be alone. You may come back this evening, Harry; come again when you like; but leave me now, only leave me now!" And then suddenly, "I have an errand," she exclaimed; "you cannot refuse me that!"
"No," replied Harry, "you have no errand. You are in grief or danger. Lift your veil and tell me what it is."
"Then," she said, with a sudden composure, "you leave but one course open to me." And raising the veil, she showed him a countenance from which every trace of colour had fled, eyes marred with weeping, and a brow on which resolve had conquered fear. "Harry," she began, "I am not what I seem."
"You have told me that before," said Harry, "several times."
"Oh, Harry, Harry," she cried, "how you shame me! But this is the God's truth. I am a dangerous and wicked girl. My name is Clara Luxmore. I was never nearer Cuba than Penzance. From first to last I have cheated and played with you. And what I am I dare not even name to you in words. Indeed, until to-day, until the sleepless watches of last night, I never grasped the depth and foulness of my guilt."
The young man looked upon her aghast. Then a generous current poured along his veins. "That is all one," he said. "If you be all you say, you have the greater need of me."
"Is it possible," she exclaimed, "that I have schemed in vain? And will nothing drive you from this house of death?"
"Of death?" he echoed.
"Death!" she cried: "death! In that box which you have dragged about London and carried on your defenceless shoulders, sleep, at the trigger's mercy, the destroying energies of dynamite."
"My God!" cried Harry.
"Ah!" she continued wildly, "will you flee now? At any moment you may hear the click that sounds the ruin of this building. I was sure M'Guire was wrong; this morning, before day, I flew to Zero; he confirmed my fears; I beheld you, my beloved Harry, fall a victim to my own contrivances. I knew then I loved you—Harry, will you go now? Will you not spare me this unwilling crime?"
Harry remained speechless, his eyes fixed upon the box: at last he turned to her.
"Is it," he asked hoarsely, "an infernal machine?"
Her lips formed the word "yes"; which her voice refused to utter.
With fearful curiosity, he drew near and bent above the box; in that still chamber, the ticking was distinctly audible; and at the measured sound, the blood flowed back upon his heart.
"For whom?" he asked.
"What matters it?" she cried, seizing him by the arm. "If you may still be saved, what matter questions?"
"God in Heaven!" cried Harry. "And the Children's Hospital! At whatever cost, this damned contrivance must be stopped!"
"It cannot," she gasped. "The power of man cannot avert the blow. But you, Harry—you, my beloved—you may still——"
And then from the box that lay so quietly in the corner, a sudden catch was audible, like the catch of a clock before it strikes the hour. For one second, the two stared at each other with lifted brows and stony eyes. Then Harry, throwing one arm over his face, with the other clutched the girl to his breast and staggered against the wall.
A dull and startling thud resounded through the room; their eyes blinked against the coming horror; and still clinging together like drowning people, they fell to the floor. Then followed a prolonged and strident hissing as from the indignant pit; an offensive stench seized them by the throat; the room was filled with dense and choking fumes.
Presently these began a little to disperse: and when at length they drew themselves, all limp and shaken, to a sitting posture, the first object that greeted their vision was the box reposing uninjured in its corner, but still leaking little wreaths of vapour round the lid.
"Oh, poor Zero!" cried the girl with a strange sobbing laugh. "Alas, poor Zero! This will break his heart!"
THE SUPERFLUOUS MANSION (concluded)
Somerset ran straight upstairs; the door of the drawing-room, contrary to all custom, was unlocked; and, bursting in, the young man found Zero seated on a sofa in an attitude of singular dejection. Close beside him stood an untasted grog, the mark of strong preoccupation. The room besides was in confusion: boxes had been tumbled to and fro; the floor was strewn with keys and other implements; and in the midst of this disorder lay a lady's glove.
"I have come," cried Somerset, "to make an end of this. Either you will instantly abandon all your schemes, or (cost what it may) I will denounce you to the police."
"Ah!" replied Zero, slowly shaking his head. "You are too late, dear fellow! I am already at the end of all my hopes and fallen to be a laughing-stock and mockery. My reading," he added, with a gentle despondency of manner, "has not been much among romances; yet I recall from one a phrase that depicts my present state with critical exactitude; and you behold me sitting here 'like a burst drum.'"
"What has befallen you?" cried Somerset.
"My last batch," retorted the plotter wearily, "like all the others, is a hollow mockery and a fraud. In vain do I combine the elements; in vain adjust the springs; and I have now arrived at such a pitch of disconsideration that (except yourself, dear fellow) I do not know a soul that I can face. My subordinates themselves have turned upon me. What language have I heard to-day, what illiberality of sentiment, what pungency of expression! She came once; I could have pardoned that, for she was moved; but she returned, returned to announce to me this crushing blow; and, Somerset, she was very inhumane. Yes, dear fellow, I have drunk a bitter cup; the speech of females is remarkable for ... well, well! Denounce me, if you will; you but denounce the dead. I am extinct. It is strange how, at this supreme crisis of my life, I should be haunted by quotations from works of an inexact and even fanciful description; but here," he added, "is another: 'Othello's occupation's gone.' Yes, dear Somerset, it is gone; I am no more a dynamiter; and how, I ask you, after having tasted of these joys, am I to condescend to a less glorious life?"
"I cannot describe how you relieve me," returned Somerset, sitting down on one of several boxes that had been drawn out into the middle of the floor. "I had conceived a sort of maudlin toleration for your character; I have a great distaste, besides, for anything in the nature of a duty; and upon both grounds, your news delights me. But I seem to perceive," he added, "a certain sound of ticking in this box."
"Yes," replied Zero, with the same slow weariness of manner, "I have set several of them going."
"My God!" cried Somerset, bounding to his feet. "Machines?"
"Machines!" returned the plotter bitterly. "Machines indeed! I blush to be their author. Alas!" he said, burying his face in his hands, "that I should live to say it!"
"Madman!" cried Somerset, shaking him by the arm. "What am I to understand? Have you, indeed, set these diabolical contrivances in motion? and do we stay here to be blown up?"
"'Hoist with his own petard?'" returned the plotter musingly. "One more quotation: strange! But indeed my brain is struck with numbness. Yes, dear boy, I have, as you say, put my contrivances in motion. The one on which you are sitting, I have timed for half an hour. Yon other——"
"Half an hour!" echoed Somerset, dancing with trepidation. "Merciful heavens, in half an hour?"
"Dear fellow, why so much excitement?" inquired Zero. "My dynamite is not more dangerous than toffy; had I an only child, I would give it him to play with. You see this brick?" he continued, lifting a cake of the infernal compound from the laboratory-table. "At a touch it should explode, and that with such unconquerable energy as should bestrew the square with ruins. Well, now, behold! I dash it on the floor."
Somerset sprang forward, and, with the strength of the very ecstasy of terror, wrested the brick from his possession. "Heavens!" he cried, wiping his brow; and then with more care than ever mother handled her first-born withal, gingerly transported the explosive to the far end of the apartment; the plotter, his arms once more fallen to his side, dispiritedly watching him.
"It was entirely harmless," he sighed. "They describe it as burning like tobacco."
"In the name of fortune," cried Somerset, "what have I done to you, or what have you done to yourself, that you should persist in this insane behaviour? If not for your own sake, then for mine, let us depart from this doomed house, where I profess I have not the heart to leave you; and then, if you will take my advice, and if your determination be sincere, you will instantly quit this city, where no further occupation can detain you."
"Such, dear fellow, was my own design," replied the plotter. "I have, as you observe, no further business here; and once I have packed a little bag, I shall ask you to share a frugal meal, to go with me as far as to the station, and see the last of a broken-hearted man. And yet," he added, looking on the boxes with a lingering regret, "I should have liked to make quite certain. I cannot but suspect my underlings of some mismanagement; it may be fond, but yet I cherish that idea: it may be the weakness of a man of science, but yet," he cried, rising into some energy, "I will never, I cannot if I try, believe that my poor dynamite has had fair usage!"
"Five minutes!" said Somerset, glancing with horror at the timepiece. "If you do not instantly buckle to your bag, I leave you."
"A few necessaries," returned Zero, "only a few necessaries, dear Somerset, and you behold me ready."
He passed into the bedroom, and after an interval which seemed to draw out into eternity for his unfortunate companion, he returned, bearing in his hand an open Gladstone bag. His movements were still horribly deliberate, and his eyes lingered gloatingly on his dear boxes, as he moved to and fro about the drawing-room, gathering a few small trifles. Last of all, he lifted one of the squares of dynamite.
"Put that down!" cried Somerset. "If what you say be true, you have no call to load yourself with that ungodly contraband."
"Merely a curiosity, dear boy," he said persuasively, and slipped the brick into his bag; "merely a memento of the past—ah, happy past, bright past! You will not take a touch of spirits? no? I find you very abstemious. Well," he added, "if you have really no curiosity to await the event——"
"I!" cried Somerset. "My blood boils to get away."
"Well, then," said Zero, "I am ready; I would I could say, willing; but thus to leave the scene of my sublime endeavours——"
Without further parley, Somerset seized him by the arm, and dragged him downstairs; the hall-door shut with a clang on the deserted mansion; and still towing his laggardly companion, the young man sped across the square in the Oxford Street direction. They had not yet passed the corner of the garden, when they were arrested by a dull thud of an extraordinary amplitude of sound, accompanied and followed by a shattering fracas. Somerset turned in time to see the mansion rend in twain, vomit forth flames and smoke, and instantly collapse into its cellars. At the same moment, he was thrown violently to the ground. His first glance was towards Zero. The plotter had but reeled against the garden rail; he stood there, the Gladstone bag clasped tight upon his heart, his whole face radiant with relief and gratitude; and the young man heard him murmur to himself: "Nunc dimittis, nunc dimittis!"
The consternation of the populace was indescribable: the whole of Golden Square was alive with men, women, and children, running wildly to and fro, and, like rabbits in a warren, dashing in and out of the house doors, and under favour of this confusion, Somerset dragged away the lingering plotter.
"It was grand," he continued to murmur: "it was indescribably grand. Ah, green Erin, green Erin, what a day of glory! and, oh, my calumniated dynamite, how triumphantly hast thou prevailed!"
Suddenly a shade crossed his face; and pausing in the middle of the footway, he consulted the dial of his watch.
"Good God!" he cried, "how mortifying! seven minutes too early! The dynamite surpassed my hopes; but the clockwork, fickle clockwork, has once more betrayed me. Alas, can there be no success unmixed with failure? and must even this red-letter day be chequered by a shadow?"
"Incomparable ass!" said Somerset, "what have you done? Blown up the house of an unoffending old lady, and the whole earthly property of the only person who is fool enough to befriend you!"
"You do not understand these matters," replied Zero, with an air of great dignity. "This will shake England to the heart. Gladstone, the truculent old man, will quail before the pointing finger of revenge. And now that my dynamite is proved effective——"
"Heavens, you remind me!" ejaculated Somerset. "That brick in your bag must be instantly disposed of. But how? If we could throw it in the river——"
"A torpedo," cried Zero, brightening, "a torpedo in the Thames! Superb, dear fellow! I recognise in you the marks of an accomplished anarch."
"True!" returned Somerset. "It cannot so be done; and there is no help but you must carry it away with you. Come on, then, and let me at once consign you to a train."
"Nay, nay, dear boy," protested Zero. "There is now no call for me to leave. My character is now reinstated; my fame brightens; this is the best thing I have done yet; and I see from here the ovations that await the author of the Golden Square Atrocity."
"My young friend," returned the other, "I give you your choice. I will either see you safe on board a train or safe in gaol."
"Somerset, this is unlike you!" said the chemist. "You surprise me, Somerset."
"I shall considerably more surprise you at the next police office," returned Somerset, with something bordering on rage. "For on one point my mind is settled: either I see you packed off to America, brick and all, or else you dine in prison."
"You have perhaps neglected one point," returned the unoffended Zero: "for, speaking as a philosopher, I fail to see what means you can employ to force me. The will, my dear fellow——"
"Now, see here," interrupted Somerset. "You are ignorant of anything but science, which I can never regard as being truly knowledge; I, sir, have studied life; and allow me to inform you that I have but to raise my hand and voice—here in this street—and the mob——"
"Good God in Heaven, Somerset," cried Zero, turning deadly white and stopping in his walk, "great God in Heaven, what words are these? Oh, not in jest, not even in jest, should they be used! The brutal mob, the savage passions.... Somerset, for God's sake, a public-house!"
Somerset considered him with freshly awakened curiosity. "This is very interesting," said he. "You recoil from such a death?"
"Who would not?" asked the plotter.
"And to be blown up by dynamite," inquired the young man, "doubtless strikes you as a form of euthanasia?"
"Pardon me," returned Zero: "I own, and, since I have braved it daily in my professional career, I own it even with pride: it is a death unusually distasteful to the mind of man."
"One more question," said Somerset; "you object to Lynch Law? why?"
"It is assassination," said the plotter calmly; but with eyebrows a little lifted, as in wonder at the question.
"Shake hands with me," cried Somerset. "Thank God, I have now no ill-feeling left; and though you cannot conceive how I burn to see you on the gallows, I can quite contentedly assist at your departure."
"I do not very clearly take your meaning," said Zero, "but I am sure you mean kindly. As to my departure, there is another point to be considered. I have neglected to supply myself with funds; my little all has perished in what history will love to relate under the name of the Golden Square Atrocity; and without what is coarsely if vigorously called stamps, you must be well aware it is impossible for me to pass the ocean."
"For me," said Somerset, "you have now ceased to be a man. You have no more claim upon me than a door-scraper; but the touching confusion of your mind disarms me from extremities. Until to-day, I always thought stupidity was funny; I now know otherwise; and when I look upon your idiot face, laughter rises within me like a deadly sickness, and the tears spring up into my eyes as bitter as blood. What should this portend? I begin to doubt; I am losing faith in scepticism. Is it possible," he cried, in a kind of horror of himself—"is it conceivable that I believe in right and wrong? Already I have found myself, with incredulous surprise, to be the victim of a prejudice of personal honour. And must this change proceed? Have you robbed me of my youth? Must I fall, at my time of life, into the Common Banker? But why should I address that head of wood? Let this suffice. I dare not let you stay among women and children; I lack the courage to denounce you, if by any means I may avoid it; you have no money; well then, take mine, and go; and if ever I behold your face after to-day, that day will be your last."
"Under the circumstances," replied Zero, "I scarce see my way to refuse your offer. Your expressions may pain, they cannot surprise me; I am aware our point of view requires a little training, a little moral hygiene, if I may so express it; and one of the points that has always charmed me in your character is this delightful frankness. As for the small advance, it shall be remitted you from Philadelphia."
"It shall not," said Somerset.
"Dear fellow, you do not understand," returned the plotter. "I shall now be received with fresh confidence by my superiors; and my experiments will be no longer hampered by pitiful conditions of the purse."
"What I am now about, sir, is a crime," replied Somerset; "and were you to roll in wealth like Vanderbilt, I should scorn to be reimbursed of money I had so scandalously misapplied. Take it, and keep it. By George, sir, three days of you have transformed me to an ancient Roman."
With these words, Somerset hailed a passing hansom; and the pair were driven rapidly to the railway terminus. There, an oath having been extracted, the money changed hands.
"And now," said Somerset, "I have bought back my honour with every penny I possess. And I thank God, though there is nothing before me but starvation, I am free from all entanglement with Mr. Zero Pumpernickel Jones."
"To starve?" cried Zero. "Dear fellow, I cannot endure the thought."
"Take your ticket!" returned Somerset.
"I think you display temper," said Zero.
"Take your ticket," reiterated the young man.
"Well," said the plotter, as he returned, ticket in hand, "your attitude is so strange and painful, that I scarce know if I should ask you to shake hands."
"As a man, no," replied Somerset; "but I have no objection to shake hands with you, as I might with a pump-well that ran poison or hell-fire."
"This is a very cold parting," sighed the dynamiter; and still followed by Somerset, he began to descend the platform. This was now bustling with passengers; the train for Liverpool was just about to start, another had but recently arrived; and the double tide made movement difficult. As the pair reached the neighbourhood of the bookstall, however, they came into an open space; and here the attention of the plotter was attracted by a Standard broadside bearing the words: "Second Edition: Explosion in Golden Square." His eye lighted; groping in his pocket for the necessary coin, he sprang forward—his bag knocked sharply on the corner of the stall—and instantly, with a formidable report, the dynamite exploded. When the smoke cleared away the stall was seen much shattered, and the stall-keeper running forth in terror from the ruins; but of the Irish patriot or the Gladstone bag no adequate remains were to be found.
In the first scramble of the alarm, Somerset made good his escape, and came out upon the Euston Road, his head spinning, his body sick with hunger, and his pockets destitute of coin. Yet as he continued to walk the pavements, he wondered to find in his heart a sort of peaceful exultation, a great content, a sense, as it were, of divine presence and the kindliness of fate; and he was able to tell himself that even if the worst befell, he could now starve with a certain comfort since Zero was expunged.
Late in the afternoon he found himself at the door of Mr. Godall's shop; and being quite unmanned by his long fast, and scarce considering what he did, he opened the glass door and entered.
"Ha!" said Mr. Godall, "Mr. Somerset! Well, have you met with an adventure? Have you the promised story? Sit down, if you please; suffer me to choose you a cigar of my own special brand; and reward me with a narrative in your best style."
"I must not take a cigar," said Somerset.
"Indeed!" said Mr. Godall. "But now I come to look at you more closely, I perceive that you are changed. My poor boy, I hope there is nothing wrong?"
Somerset burst into tears.
EPILOGUE OF THE CIGAR DIVAN
On a certain day of lashing rain in the December of last year, and between the hours of nine and ten in the morning, Mr. Edward Challoner pioneered himself under an umbrella to the door of the Cigar Divan in Rupert Street. It was a place he had visited but once before: the memory of what had followed on that visit and the fear of Somerset having prevented his return. Even now, he looked in before he entered; but the shop was free of customers.
The young man behind the counter was so intently writing in a penny version-book, that he paid no heed to Challoner's arrival. On a second glance, it seemed to the latter that he recognised him.
"By Jove," he thought, "unquestionably Somerset!"
And though this was the very man he had been so sedulously careful to avoid, his unexplained position at the receipt of custom changed distaste to curiosity.
"'Or opulent rotunda strike the sky,'" said the shopman to himself, in the tone of one considering a verse. "I suppose it would be too much to say 'orotunda,' and yet how noble it were! 'Or opulent orotunda strike the sky.' But that is the bitterness of arts; you see a good effect, and some nonsense about sense continually intervenes."
"Somerset, my dear fellow," said Challoner, "is this a masquerade?"
"What? Challoner!" cried the shopman. "I am delighted to see you. One moment, till I finish the octave of my sonnet: only the octave." And with a friendly waggle of the hand, he once more buried himself in the commerce of the Muses. "I say," he said presently, looking up, "you seem in wonderful preservation: how about the hundred pounds?"
"I have made a small inheritance from a great aunt in Wales," replied Challoner modestly.
"Ah," said Somerset, "I very much doubt the legitimacy of inheritance. The State, in my view, should collar it. I am now going through a stage of socialism and poetry," he added apologetically, as one who spoke of a course of medicinal waters.
"And are you really the person of the—establishment?" inquired Challoner, deftly evading the word "shop."
"A vendor, sir, a vendor," returned the other, pocketing his poesy. "I help old Happy and Glorious. Can I offer you a weed?"
"Well, I scarcely like ..." began Challoner.
"Nonsense, my dear fellow," cried the shopman. "We are very proud of the business; and the old man, let me inform you, besides being the most egregious of created beings from the point of view of ethics, is literally sprung from the loins of kings. 'De Godall je suis le fervent.' There is only one Godall.—By the way," he added, as Challoner lit his cigar, "how did you get on with the detective trade?"
"I did not try," said Challoner curtly.
"Ah, well, I did," returned Somerset, "and made the most incomparable mess of it; lost all my money and fairly covered myself with odium and ridicule. There is more in that business, Challoner, than meets the eye; there is more, in fact, in all businesses. You must believe in them, or get up the belief that you believe. Hence," he added, "the recognised inferiority of the plumber, for no one could believe in plumbing."
"A propos," asked Challoner, "do you still paint?"
"Not now," replied Paul; "but I think of taking up the violin."
Challoner's eye, which had been somewhat restless since the trade of the detective had been named, now rested for a moment on the columns of the morning paper, where it lay spread upon the counter.
"By Jove," he cried, "that's odd!"
"What is odd?" asked Paul.
"Oh, nothing," returned the other: "only I once met a person called M'Guire."
"So did I!" cried Somerset. "Is there anything about him?"
Challoner read as follows: "Mysterious death in Stepney. An inquest was held yesterday on the body of Patrick M'Guire, described as a carpenter. Dr. Dovering stated that he had for some time treated the deceased as a dispensary patient, for sleeplessness, loss of appetite, and nervous depression. There was no cause of death to be found. He would say the deceased had sunk. Deceased was not a temperate man, which doubtless accelerated death. Deceased complained of dumb ague, but witness had never been able to detect any positive disease. He did not know that he had any family. He regarded him as a person of unsound intellect, who believed himself a member and the victim of some secret society. If he were to hazard an opinion, he would say deceased had died of fear."
"And the doctor would be right," cried Somerset; "and my dear Challoner, I am so relieved to hear of his demise, that I will——. Well, after all," he added, "poor devil, he was well served."
The door at this moment opened, and Desborough appeared upon the threshold. He was wrapped in a long waterproof, imperfectly supplied with buttons; his boots were full of water, his hat greasy with service; and yet he wore the air of one exceeding well content with life. He was hailed by the two others with exclamations of surprise and welcome.
"And did you try the detective business?" inquired Paul.
"No," returned Harry. "Oh yes, by the way, I did though: twice, and got caught out both times. But I thought I should find my—my wife here?" he added, with a kind of proud confusion.
"What? are you married?" cried Somerset.
"Oh yes," said Harry, "quite a long time: a month at least."
"Money?" asked Challoner.
"That's the worst of it," Desborough admitted. "We are deadly hard up. But the Pri—Mr. Godall is going to do something for us. That is what brings us here."
"Who was Mrs. Desborough?" said Challoner, in the tone of a man of society.
"She was a Miss Luxmore," returned Harry. "You fellows will be sure to like her, for she is much cleverer than I. She tells wonderful stories, too; better than a book."
And just then the door opened, and Mrs. Desborough entered. Somerset cried out aloud to recognise the young lady of the Superfluous Mansion, and Challoner fell back a step and dropped his cigar as he beheld the sorceress of Chelsea.
"What!" cried Harry, "do you both know my wife?"
"I believe I have seen her," said Somerset, a little wildly.
"I think I have met the gentleman," said Mrs. Desborough sweetly; "but I cannot imagine where it was."
"Oh no," cried Somerset fervently; "I have no notion—I cannot conceive—where it could have been. Indeed," he continued, growing in emphasis, "I think it highly probable that it's a mistake."
"And you, Challoner?" asked Harry, "you seemed to recognise her, too."
"These are both friends of yours, Harry?" said the lady. "Delighted, I am sure. I do not remember to have met Mr. Challoner."
Challoner was very red in the face, perhaps from having groped after his cigar. "I do not remember to have had the pleasure," he responded huskily.
"Well, and Mr. Godall?" asked Mrs. Desborough.
"Are you the lady that has an appointment with old ..." began Somerset, and paused, blushing. "Because if so," he resumed, "I was to announce you at once."
And the shopman raised a curtain, opened a door, and passed into a small pavilion which had been added to the back of the house. On the roof, the rain resounded musically. The walls were lined with maps and prints and a few works of reference. Upon a table was a large-scale map of Egypt and the Soudan, and another of Tonkin, on which, by the aid of coloured pins, the progress of the different wars was being followed day by day. A light, refreshing odour of the most delicate tobacco hung upon the air; and a fire, not of foul coal, but of clear-flaming resinous billets, chattered upon silver dogs. In this elegant and plain apartment, Mr. Godall sat in a morning muse, placidly gazing at the fire and hearkening to the rain upon the roof.
"Ha, my dear Mr. Somerset," said he, "and have you since last night adopted any fresh political principle?"
"The lady, sir," said Somerset, with another blush.
"You have seen her, I believe?" returned Mr. Godall; and on Somerset's replying in the affirmative: "You will excuse me, my dear sir," he resumed, "if I offer you a hint. I think it not improbable this lady may desire entirely to forget the past. From one gentleman to another, no more words are necessary."
A moment after, he had received Mrs. Desborough with that grave and touching urbanity that so well became him.
"I am pleased, madam, to welcome you to my poor house," he said; "and shall be still more so, if what were else a barren courtesy and a pleasure personal to myself, shall prove to be of serious benefit to you and Mr. Desborough."
"Your highness," replied Clara, "I must begin with thanks; it is like what I have heard of you, that you should thus take up the case of the unfortunate; and as for my Harry, he is worthy of all that you can do." She paused.
"But for yourself?" suggested Mr. Godall—"it was thus you were about to continue, I believe."
"You take the words out of my mouth," she said. "For myself, it is different."
"I am not here to be a judge of men," replied the prince; "still less of women. I am now a private person like yourself and many million others; but I am one who still fights upon the side of quiet. Now, madam, you know better than I, and God better than you, what you have done to mankind in the past; I pause not to inquire; it is with the future I concern myself, it is for the future I demand security. I would not willingly put arms into the hands of a disloyal combatant; and I dare not restore to wealth one of the levyers of a private and a barbarous war. I speak with some severity, and yet I pick my terms. I tell myself continually that you are a woman; and a voice continually reminds me of the children whose lives and limbs you have endangered. A woman," he repeated solemnly—"and children. Possibly, madam, when you are yourself a mother, you will feel the bite of that antithesis: possibly when you kneel at night beside a cradle, a fear will fall upon you, heavier than any shame; and when your child lies in the pain and danger of disease, you shall hesitate to kneel before your Maker."
"You look at the fault," she said, "and not at the excuse. Has your own heart never leaped within you at some story of oppression? But, alas, no! for you were born upon a throne."
"I was born of woman," said the prince; "I came forth from my mother's agony, helpless as a wren, like other nurselings. This, which you forgot, I have still faithfully remembered. Is it not one of your English poets, that looked abroad upon the earth and saw vast circumvallations, innumerable troops manoeuvring, warships at sea, and a great dust of battles on shore; and, casting anxiously about for what should be the cause of so many and painful preparations, spied at last, in the centre of all, a mother and her babe? These, madam, are my politics; and the verses, which are by Mr. Coventry Patmore, I have caused to be translated into the Bohemian tongue. Yes, these are my politics: to change what we can, to better what we can; but still to bear in mind that man is but a devil weakly fettered by some generous beliefs and impositions; and for no word however nobly sounding, and no cause however just and pious, to relax the stricture of these bonds."
There was a silence of a moment.
"I fear, madam," resumed the prince, "that I but weary you. My views are formal like myself; and like myself, they also begin to grow old. But I must still trouble you for some reply."
"I can say but one thing," said Mrs. Desborough: "I love my husband."
"It is a good answer," returned the prince; "and you name a good influence, but one that need not be conterminous with life."
"I will not play at pride with such a man as you," she answered. "What do you ask of me? not protestations, I am sure. What shall I say? I have done much that I cannot defend and that I would not do again. Can I say more? Yes: I can say this: I never abused myself with the muddle-headed fairy tales of politics. I was at least prepared to meet reprisals. While I was levying war myself—or levying murder, if you choose the plainer term—I never accused my adversaries of assassination. I never felt or feigned a righteous horror, when a price was put upon my life by those whom I attacked. I never called the policeman a hireling. I may have been a criminal, in short; but I never was a fool."
"Enough, madam," returned the prince: "more than enough! Your words are most reviving to my spirits; for in this age, when even the assassin is a sentimentalist, there is no virtue greater in my eyes than intellectual clarity. Suffer me then to ask you to retire; for by the signal of that bell, I perceive my old friend, your mother, to be close at hand. With her I promise you to do my utmost."
And as Mrs. Desborough returned to the Divan, the prince, opening a door upon the other side, admitted Mrs. Luxmore.
"Madam, and my very good friend," said he, "is my face so much changed that you no longer recognise Prince Florizel in Mr. Godall?"
"To be sure!" she cried, looking at him through her glasses. "I have always regarded your highness as a perfect man; and in your altered circumstances, of which I have already heard with deep regret, I will beg you to consider my respect increased instead of lessened."
"I have found it so," returned the prince, "with every class of my acquaintance. But, madam, I pray you to be seated. My business is of a delicate order, and regards your daughter."
"In that case," said Mrs. Luxmore, "you may save yourself the trouble of speaking, for I have fully made up my mind to have nothing to do with her. I will not hear one word in her defence; but as I value nothing so particularly as the virtue of justice, I think it my duty to explain to you the grounds of my complaint. She deserted me, her natural protector; for years she has consorted with the most disreputable persons; and, to fill the cup of her offence, she has recently married. I refuse to see her, or the being to whom she has linked herself. One hundred and twenty pounds a year, I have always offered her: I offer it again. It is what I had myself when I was her age."
"Very well, madam," said the prince; "and be that so! But to touch upon another matter: what was the income of the Reverend Bernard Fanshawe?"
"My father?" asked the spirited old lady. "I believe he had seven hundred pounds in the year."
"You were one, I think, of several?" pursued the prince.
"Of four," was the reply. "We were four daughters; and, painful as the admission is to make, a more detestable family could scarce be found in England."
"Dear me!" said the prince. "And you, madam, have an income of eight thousand?"
"Not more than five," returned the old lady; "but where on earth are you conducting me?"
"To an allowance of one thousand pounds a year," replied Florizel, smiling. "For I must not suffer you to take your father for a rule. He was poor, you are rich. He had many calls upon his poverty: there are none upon your wealth. And indeed, madam, if you will let me touch this matter with a needle, there is but one point in common to your two positions: that each had a daughter more remarkable for liveliness than duty."
"I have been entrapped into this house," said the old lady, getting to her feet. "But it shall not avail. Not all the tobacconists in Europe...."
"Ah, madam," interrupted Florizel, "before what is referred to as my fall, you had not used such language! And since you so much object to the simple industry by which I live, let me give you a friendly hint. If you will not consent to support your daughter, I shall be constrained to place that lady behind my counter, where I doubt not she would prove a great attraction; and your son-in-law shall have a livery and run the errands. With such young blood my business might be doubled, and I might be bound, in common gratitude, to place the name of Luxmore beside that of Godall."
"Your highness," said the old lady, "I have been very rude, and you are very cunning. I suppose the minx is on the premises. Produce her."
"Let us rather observe them unperceived," said the prince; and so saying he rose and quietly drew back the curtain.
Mrs. Desborough sat with her back to them on a chair; Somerset and Harry were hanging on her words with extraordinary interest; Challoner, alleging some affair, had long ago withdrawn from the detested neighbourhood of the enchantress.
"At that moment," Mrs. Desborough was saying, "Mr. Gladstone detected the features of his cowardly assailant. A cry rose to his lips: a cry of mingled triumph...."
"That is Mr. Somerset!" interrupted the spirited old lady, in the highest note of her register. "Mr. Somerset, what have you done with my house-property?"
"Madam," said the prince, "let it be mine to give the explanation; and in the meanwhile, welcome your daughter."
"Well, Clara, how do you do?" said Mrs. Luxmore. "It appears I am to give you an allowance. So much the better for you. As for Mr. Somerset, I am very ready to have an explanation; for the whole affair, though costly, was eminently humorous. And at any rate," she added, nodding to Paul, "he is a young gentleman for whom I have a great affection, and his pictures were the funniest I ever saw."
"I have ordered a collation," said the prince. "Mr. Somerset, as these are all your friends, I propose, if you please, that you should join them at table. I will take the shop."
STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE
TO KATHARINE DE MATTOS
It's ill to loose the bands that God decreed to bind; Still will we be the children of the heather and the wind. Far away from home, O it's still for you and me That the broom is blowing bonnie in the north countrie.
STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE
STORY OF THE DOOR
Mr. Utterson the lawyer was a man of a rugged countenance, that was never lighted by a smile; cold, scanty and embarrassed in discourse; backward in sentiment; lean, long, dusty, dreary, and yet somehow lovable. At friendly meetings, and when the wine was to his taste, something eminently human beaconed from his eye; something indeed which never found its way into his talk, but which spoke not only in these silent symbols of the after-dinner face, but more often and loudly in the acts of his life. He was austere with himself; drank gin when he was alone, to mortify a taste for vintages; and though he enjoyed the theatre, had not crossed the doors of one for twenty years. But he had an approved tolerance for others; sometimes wondering, almost with envy, at the high pressure of spirits involved in their misdeeds; and in any extremity inclined to help rather than to reprove. "I incline to Cain's heresy," he used to say quaintly: "I let my brother go to the devil in his own way." In this character, it was frequently his fortune to be the last reputable acquaintance and the last good influence in the lives of down-going men. And to such as these, so long as they came about his chambers, he never marked a shade of change in his demeanour.
No doubt the feat was easy to Mr. Utterson; for he was undemonstrative at the best, and even his friendships seemed to be founded in a similar catholicity of good-nature. It is the mark of a modest man to accept his friendly circle ready-made from the hands of opportunity; and that was the lawyer's way. His friends were those of his own blood, or those whom he had known the longest; his affections, like ivy, were the growth of time, they implied no aptness in the object. Hence, no doubt, the bond that united him to Mr. Richard Enfield, his distant kinsman, the well-known man about town. It was a nut to crack for many, what these two could see in each other or what subject they could find in common. It was reported by those who encountered them in their Sunday walks that they said nothing, looked singularly dull, and would hail with obvious relief the appearance of a friend. For all that, the two men put the greatest store by these excursions, counted them the chief jewel of each week, and not only set aside occasions of pleasure, but even resisted the calls of business, that they might enjoy them uninterrupted.
It chanced on one of these rambles that their way led them down a by-street in a busy quarter of London. The street was small, and what is called quiet, but it drove a thriving trade on the week-days. The inhabitants were all doing well, it seemed, and all emulously hoping to do better still, and laying out the surplus of their gains in coquetry; so that the shop-fronts stood along that thoroughfare with an air of invitation, like rows of smiling saleswomen. Even on Sunday, when it veiled its more florid charms and lay comparatively empty of passage, the street shone out in contrast to its dingy neighbourhood, like a fire in a forest; and with its freshly painted shutters, well-polished brasses, and general cleanliness and gaiety of note, instantly caught and pleased the eye of the passenger.
Two doors from one corner on the left hand going east, the line was broken by the entry of a court; and just at that point a certain sinister block of building thrust forward its gable on the street. It was two stories high; showed no window, nothing but a door on the lower story and a blind forehead of discoloured wall on the upper; and bore in every feature the marks of prolonged and sordid negligence. The door, which was equipped with neither bell nor knocker, was blistered and distained. Tramps slouched into the recess and struck matches on the panels; children kept shop upon the steps; the schoolboy had tried his knife on the mouldings; and for close on a generation no one had appeared to drive away these random visitors or to repair their ravages.
Mr. Enfield and the lawyer were on the other side of the by-street, but when they came abreast of the entry, the former lifted up his cane and pointed.
"Did you ever remark that door?" he asked; and when his companion had replied in the affirmative, "it is connected in my mind," added he, "with a very odd story."
"Indeed?" said Mr. Utterson, with a slight change of voice, "and what was that?"
"Well, it was this way," returned Mr. Enfield: "I was coming home from some place at the end of the world, about three o'clock of a black winter morning, and my way lay through a part of town where there was literally nothing to be seen but lamps. Street after street, and all the folks asleep—street after street, all lighted up as if for a procession and all as empty as a church—till at last I got into that state of mind when a man listens and listens and begins to long for the sight of a policeman. All at once I saw two figures: one a little man who was stumping along eastward at a good walk, and the other 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 naturally enough 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-holloa, took to my heels, collared my gentleman, and brought him back to where there was already quite a group about the screaming child. He was perfectly cool, and made no resistance, but gave me one look so ugly that it brought out the sweat on me like running. The people who had turned out were the girl's own family; and pretty soon, the doctor, for whom she had been sent, put in his appearance. Well, the child was not much the worse, more frightened, according to the Sawbones; and there you might have supposed would be an end to it. But there was one curious circumstance. I had taken a loathing to my gentleman at first sight. So had the child's family, which was only natural. But the doctor's case was what struck me. He was the usual cut-and-dry apothecary, of no particular age and colour, with a strong Edinburgh accent, and about as emotional as a bagpipe. Well, sir, he was like the rest of us; every time he looked at my prisoner, I saw that Sawbones turn sick and white with the desire to kill him. I knew what was in his mind, just as he knew what was in mine; and killing being out of the question, we did the next best. We told the man we could and would make such a scandal out of this as should make his name stink from one end of London to the other. If he had any friends or any credit, we undertook that he should lose them. And all the time, as we were pitching it in red-hot, we were keeping the women off him as best we could, for they were as wild as harpies. I never saw a circle of such hateful faces; and there was the man in the middle, with a kind of black sneering coolness—frightened, too, I could see that—but carrying it off, sir, really like Satan. 'If you choose to make capital out of this accident,' said he, 'I am naturally helpless. No gentleman but wishes to avoid a scene,' says he. 'Name your figure.' Well, we screwed him up to a hundred pounds for the child's family; he would have clearly liked to stick out; but there was something about the lot of us that meant mischief, and at last he struck. 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 the matter of ten pounds in gold and a cheque for the balance on Coutts's, drawn payable to bearer and signed with a name that I can't mention, though it's one of the points of my story, but it was a name at least very well known and often printed. The figure was stiff; but the signature was good for more than that, if it was only genuine. I took the liberty of pointing out to my gentleman that the whole business looked apocryphal, and that a man does not, in real life, walk into a cellar-door at four in the morning and come out of it with another man's cheque for close upon a hundred pounds. But he was quite easy and sneering. 'Set your mind at rest,' says he, 'I will stay with you till the banks open and cash the cheque myself.' So we all set off, the doctor, and the child's father, and our friend and myself, and passed the rest of the night in my chambers; and next day, when we had breakfasted, went in a body to the bank. I gave in the cheque myself, and said I had every reason to believe it was a forgery. Not a bit of it. The cheque was genuine."
"Tut-tut," said Mr. Utterson.
"I see you feel as I do," said Mr. Enfield. "Yes, it's a bad story. For my man was a fellow that nobody could have to do with, a really damnable man: and the person that drew the cheque is the very pink of the proprieties, celebrated too, and (what makes it worse) one of your fellows who do what they call good. Blackmail, I suppose; an honest man paying through the nose for some of the capers of his youth. Black Mail House is what I call that place with the door, in consequence. Though even that, you know, is far from explaining all," he added, and with the words fell into a vein of musing.
From this he was recalled by Mr. Utterson asking rather suddenly: "And you don't know if the drawer of the cheque lives there?"
"A likely place, isn't it?" returned Mr. Enfield. "But I happened to have noticed his address; he lives in some square or other."
"And you never asked about—the place with the door?" said Mr. Utterson.
"No, sir: I had a delicacy," was the reply. "I feel very strongly about putting questions; it partakes too much of the style of the day of judgment. You start a question, and it's like starting a stone. You sit quietly on the top of a hill; and away the stone goes, starting others; and presently some bland old bird (the last you would have thought of) is knocked on the head in his own back-garden and the family have to change their name. No, sir, I make it a rule of mine: the more it looks like Queer Street, the less I ask."
"A very good rule too," said the lawyer.
"But I have studied the place for myself," continued Mr. Enfield. "It seems scarcely a house. There is no other door, and nobody goes in or out of that one but, once in a great while, the gentleman of my adventure. There are three windows looking on the court on the first floor; none below; the windows are always shut, but they're clean. And then there is a chimney which is generally smoking; so somebody must live there. Yet it's not so sure; for the buildings are so packed together about that court that it's hard to say where one ends and another begins."
The pair walked on again for a while in silence; and then, "Enfield," said Mr. Utterson, "that's a good rule of yours."
"Yes, I think it is," returned Enfield.
"But for all that," continued the lawyer, "there's one point I want to ask: I want to ask the name of that man who walked over the child."
"Well," said Mr. Enfield, "I can't see what harm it would do. He was a man of the name of Hyde."
"H'm," said Mr. Utterson. "What sort of a man is he to see?"
"He is not easy to describe. There is something wrong with his appearance; something displeasing, something downright detestable. I never saw a man I so disliked, and yet I scarce know why. He must be deformed somewhere; he gives a strong feeling of deformity, although I couldn't specify the point. He's an extraordinary-looking man, and yet I really can name nothing out of the way. No, sir; I can make no hand of it; I can't describe him. And it's not want of memory; for I declare I can see him this moment."
Mr. Utterson again walked some way in silence and obviously under a weight of consideration. "You are sure he used a key?" he inquired at last.
"My dear sir——" began Enfield, surprised out of himself.
"Yes, I know," said Utterson; "I know it must seem strange. The fact is, if I do not ask you the name of the other party it is because I know it already. You see, Richard, your tale has gone home. If you have been inexact in any point, you had better correct it."
"I think you might have warned me," returned the other with a touch of sullenness. "But I have been pedantically exact, as you call it. The fellow had a key; and what's more, he has it still. I saw him use it not a week ago."
Mr. Utterson sighed deeply but said never a word; and the young man presently resumed. "Here is another lesson to say nothing," said he. "I am ashamed of my long tongue. Let us make a bargain never to refer to this again."
"With all my heart," said the lawyer. "I shake hands on that, Richard."
SEARCH FOR MR. HYDE
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., LL.D., F.R.S., &c., 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 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. "If any one 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 respecters 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.
"I suppose, Lanyon," said he, "you and I must be the two oldest friends that Henry Jekyll has?"
"I wish the friends were younger," chuckled Dr. Lanyon. "But I suppose we are. And what of that? I see little of him now."
"Indeed?" said Utterson. "I thought you had a bond of common interest."
"We had," was the reply. "But it is more than ten years since Henry Jekyll became too fanciful for me. He began to go wrong, wrong in mind; and though of course I continue to take an interest in him for old sake's sake, as they say, I see and I have seen devilish little of the man. Such unscientific balderdash," added the doctor, flushing suddenly purple, "would have estranged Damon and Pythias."
This little spirt of temper was somewhat of a relief to Mr. Utterson. "They have only differed on some point of science," he thought; and being a man of no scientific passions (except in the matter of conveyancing) he even added: "It is nothing worse than that!" He gave his friend a few seconds to recover his composure, and then approached the question he had come to put. "Did you ever come across a protege of his—one Hyde?" he asked.
"Hyde," repeated Lanyon. "No. Never heard of him. Since my time."
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. It was a night of little ease to his toiling mind, toiling in mere darkness and besieged by questions.
Six o'clock struck on the bells of the church that was so conveniently near to Mr. Utterson's dwelling, and still he was digging at the problem. Hitherto it had touched him on the intellectual side alone; but now his imagination also was engaged, or rather enslaved; and as he lay and tossed in the gross darkness of the night and the curtained room, Mr. Enfield's tale went by before his mind in a scroll of lighted pictures. He would be aware of the great field of lamps of a nocturnal city; then of the figure of a man walking swiftly; then of a child running from the doctor's; and then these met, and that human Juggernaut trod the child down and passed on regardless of her screams. Or else he would see a room in a rich house, where his friend lay asleep, dreaming and smiling at his dreams; and then the door of that room would be opened, the curtains of the bed plucked apart, the sleeper recalled, and lo! there would stand by his side a figure to whom power was given, and even at that dead hour he must rise and do its bidding. The figure in these two phases haunted the lawyer all night; and if at any time he dozed over, it was but to see it glide more stealthily through sleeping houses, or move the more swiftly and still the more swiftly, even to dizziness, through wider labyrinths of lamplighted city, and at every street-corner crush a child and leave her screaming. And still the figure had no face by which he might know it; even in his dreams, it had no face, or one that baffled him and melted before his eyes; and thus it was that there sprang up and grew apace in the lawyer's mind a singularly strong, almost an inordinate, curiosity to behold the features of the real Mr. Hyde. If he could but once set eyes on him, he thought the mystery would lighten and perhaps roll altogether away, as was the habit of mysterious things when well examined. He might see a reason for his friend's strange preference or bondage (call it which you please) and even for the startling clauses of the will. And at least it would be a face worth seeing: the face of a man who was without bowels of mercy: a face which had but to show itself to raise up, in the mind of the unimpressionable Enfield, a spirit of enduring hatred.
From that time forward, Mr. Utterson began to haunt the door in the by-street of shops. In the morning before office hours, at noon when business was plenty and time scarce, at night under the face of the fogged city moon, by all lights and at all hours of solitude or concourse, the lawyer was to be found on his chosen post.
"If he be Mr. Hyde," he had thought, "I shall be Mr. Seek."
And at last his patience was rewarded. It was a fine dry night; frost in the air; the streets as clean as a ballroom floor; the lamps, unshaken by any wind, drawing a regular pattern of light and shadow. By ten o'clock, when the shops were closed, the by-street was very solitary and, in spite of the low growl of London from all round, very silent. Small sounds carried far; domestic sounds out of the houses were clearly audible on either side of the roadway; and the rumour of the approach of any passenger preceded him by a long time. Mr. Utterson had been some minutes at his post, when he was aware of an odd, light footstep drawing near. In the course of his nightly patrols he had long grown accustomed to the quaint effect with which the footfalls of a single person, while he is still a great way off, suddenly spring out distinct from the vast hum and clatter of the city. Yet his attention had never before been so sharply and decisively arrested; and it was with a strong, superstitious prevision of success that he withdrew into the entry of the court.
The steps drew swiftly nearer, and swelled out suddenly louder as they turned the end of the street. The lawyer, looking forth from the entry, could soon see what manner of man he had to deal with. He was small and very plainly dressed, and the look of him, even at that distance, went somehow strongly against the watcher's inclination. But he made straight for the door, crossing the roadway to save time; and as he came, he drew a key from his pocket like one approaching home.
Mr. Utterson stepped out and touched him on the shoulder as he passed. "Mr. Hyde, I think?"
Mr. Hyde shrank back with a hissing intake of the breath. But his fear was only momentary; and though he did not look the lawyer in the face, he answered coolly enough: "That is my name. What do you want?"
"I see you are going in," returned the lawyer. "I am an old friend of Dr. Jekyll's—Mr. Utterson of Gaunt Street—you must have heard my name; and meeting you so conveniently, I thought you might admit me."
"You will not find Dr. Jekyll; he is from home," replied Mr. Hyde, blowing in the key. And then suddenly, but still without looking up, "How did you know me?" he asked.
"On your side," said Mr. Utterson, "will you do me a favour?"
"With pleasure," replied the other. "What shall it be?"
"Will you let me see your face?" asked the lawyer.
Mr. Hyde appeared to hesitate, and then, as if upon some sudden reflection, fronted about with an air of defiance; and the pair stared at each other pretty fixedly for a few seconds. "Now I shall know you again," said Mr. Utterson. "It may be useful."
"Yes," returned Mr. Hyde, "it is as well we have met; and a propos, you should have my address." And he gave a number of a street in Soho.
"Good God!" thought Mr. Utterson, "can he too have been thinking of the will?" But he kept his feelings to himself and only grunted in acknowledgment of the address.
"And now," said the other, "how did you know me?"
"By description," was the reply.
"We have common friends," said Mr. Utterson.
"Common friends?" echoed Mr. Hyde, a little hoarsely. "Who are they?"
"Jekyll, for instance," said the lawyer.
"He never told you," cried Mr. Hyde, with a flush of anger. "I did not think you would have lied."
"Come," said Mr. Utterson, "that is not fitting language."
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.
The lawyer stood awhile when Mr. Hyde had left him, the picture of disquietude. Then he began slowly to mount the street, pausing every step or two and putting his hand to his brow like a man in mental perplexity. The problem he was thus debating as he walked was one of a class that is rarely solved. Mr. Hyde was pale and dwarfish. He gave an impression of deformity without any nameable malformation, he had a displeasing smile, he had borne himself to the lawyer with a sort of murderous mixture of timidity and boldness, and he spoke with a husky, whispering and somewhat broken voice; all these were points against him, but not all of these together could explain the hitherto unknown disgust, loathing, and fear with which Mr. Utterson regarded him. "There must be something else," said the perplexed gentleman. "There is something more, if I could find a name for it. God bless me, the man seems hardly human! Something troglodytic, shall we say? or can it be the old story of Dr. Fell? or is it the mere radiance of a foul soul that thus transpires through, and transfigures, its clay continent? The last, I think; for O my poor old Harry Jekyll, if ever I read Satan's signature upon a face, it is on that of your new friend."
Round the corner from the by-street there was a square of ancient, handsome houses, now for the most part decayed from their high estate and let in flats and chambers to all sorts and conditions of men: map-engravers, architects, shady lawyers, and the agents of obscure enterprises. One house, however, second from the corner, was still occupied entire; and at the door of this, which wore a great air of wealth and comfort, though it was now plunged in darkness except for the fan-light, Mr. Utterson stopped and knocked. A well-dressed elderly servant opened the door.
"Is Dr. Jekyll at home, Poole?" asked the lawyer.
"I will see, Mr. Utterson," said Poole, admitting the visitor, as he spoke, into a large, low-roofed, comfortable hall, paved with flags, warmed (after the fashion of a country house) by a bright, open fire, and furnished with costly cabinets of oak. "Will you wait here by the fire, sir? or shall I give you a light in the dining-room?"
"Here, thank you," said the lawyer, and he drew near and leaned on the tall fender. This hall, in which he was now left alone, was a pet fancy of his friend the doctor's; and Utterson himself was wont to speak of it as the pleasantest room in London. But to-night there was a shudder in his blood; the face of Hyde sat heavy on his memory; he felt (what was rare with him) a nausea and distaste of life; and in the gloom of his spirits, he seemed to read a menace in the flickering of the firelight on the polished cabinets and the uneasy starting of the shadow on the roof. He was ashamed of his relief, when Poole presently returned to announce that Dr. Jekyll was 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."
"Your master seems to repose a great deal of trust in that young man, Poole," resumed the other musingly.
"Yes, sir, he do indeed," said Poole. "We have all orders to obey him."
"I do not think I ever met Mr. Hyde?" asked Utterson.
"O dear no, sir. He never dines here," replied the butler. "Indeed, we see very little of him on this side of the house; he mostly comes and goes by the laboratory."
"Well, good-night, Poole."
"Good-night, Mr. Utterson."
And the lawyer set out homeward with a very heavy heart. "Poor Harry Jekyll," he thought, "my mind misgives me he is in deep waters! He was wild when he was young; a long while ago, to be sure; but in the law of God there is no statute of limitations. Ay, it must be that; the ghost of some old sin, the cancer of some concealed disgrace: punishment coming, pede claudo, years after memory has forgotten and self-love condoned the fault." And the lawyer, scared by the thought, brooded awhile on his own past, groping in all the corners of memory, lest by chance some Jack-in-the-Box of an old iniquity should leap to light there. His past was fairly blameless; few men could read the rolls of their life with less apprehension; yet he was humbled to the dust by the many ill things he had done, and raised up again into a sober and fearful gratitude by the many that he had come so near to doing, yet avoided. And then, by a return on his former subject, he conceived a spark of hope. "This Master Hyde, if he were studied," thought he, "must have secrets of his own: black secrets, by the look of him; secrets compared to which poor Jekyll's worst would be like sunshine. Things cannot continue as they are. It turns me cold to think of this creature stealing like a thief to Harry's bedside; poor Harry, what a wakening! And the danger of it; for if this Hyde suspects the existence of the will, he may grow impatient to inherit. Ay, I must put my shoulder to the wheel—if Jekyll will but let me," he added, "if Jekyll will only let me." For once more he saw before his mind's eye, as clear as a transparency, the strange clauses of the will.
DR. JEKYLL WAS QUITE AT EASE
A fortnight later, by excellent good fortune, the doctor gave one of his pleasant dinners to some five or six old cronies, all intelligent, reputable men, and all judges of good wine; and Mr. Utterson so contrived that he remained behind after the others had departed. This was no new arrangement, but a thing that had befallen many scores of times. Where Utterson was liked, he was liked well. Hosts loved to detain the dry lawyer, when the light-hearted and the loose-tongued had already their foot on the threshold; they liked to sit awhile in his unobtrusive company, practising for solitude, sobering their minds in the man's rich silence after the expense and strain of gaiety. To this rule Dr. Jekyll was no exception; and as he now sat on the opposite side of the fire—a large, well-made, smooth-faced man of fifty, with something of a slyish cast perhaps, but every mark of capacity and kindness—you could see by his looks that he cherished for Mr. Utterson a sincere and warm affection.
"I have been wanting to speak to you, Jekyll," began the latter. "You know that will of yours?"
A close observer might have gathered that the topic was distasteful; but the doctor carried it off gaily. "My poor Utterson," said he, "you are unfortunate in such a client. I never saw a man so distressed as you were by my will; unless it were that hide-bound pedant, Lanyon, at what he called my scientific heresies. Oh, I know he's a good fellow—you needn't frown—an excellent fellow, and I always mean to see more of him; but a hide-bound pedant for all that; an ignorant, blatant pedant. I was never more disappointed in any man than Lanyon."
"You know I never approved of it," pursued Utterson, ruthlessly disregarding the fresh topic.
"My will? Yes, certainly, I know that," said the doctor, a trifle sharply. "You have told me so."
"Well, I tell you so again," continued the lawyer. "I have been learning something of young Hyde."
The large handsome face of Dr. Jekyll grew pale to the very lips, and there came a blackness about his eyes. "I do not care to hear more," said he. "This is a matter I thought we had agreed to drop."
"What I heard was abominable," said Utterson.
"It can make no change. You do not understand my position," returned the doctor, with a certain incoherency of manner. "I am painfully situated, Utterson; my position is a very strange—a very strange one. It is one of those affairs that cannot be mended by talking."
"Jekyll," said Utterson, "you know me: I am a man to be trusted. Make a clean breast of this in confidence; and I make no doubt I can get you out of it."
"My good Utterson," said the doctor, "this is very good of you, this is downright good of you, and I cannot find words to thank you in. I believe you fully; I would trust you before any man alive—ay, before myself, if I could make the choice; but indeed it isn't what you fancy; it is not so bad as that; and just to put your good heart at rest, I will tell you one thing: the moment I choose, I can be rid of Mr. Hyde. I give you my hand upon that; and I thank you again and again; and I will just add one little word, Utterson, that I'm sure you'll take in good part: this is a private matter, and I beg of you to let it sleep."
Utterson reflected a little, looking in the fire.
"I have no doubt you are perfectly right," he said at last, getting to his feet.
"Well, but since we have touched upon this business, and for the last time I hope," continued the doctor, "there is one point I should like you to understand. I have really a very great interest in poor Hyde. I know you have seen him; he told me so; and I fear he was rude. But I do sincerely take a great, a very great interest in that young man; and if I am taken away, Utterson, I wish you to promise me that you will bear with him and get his rights for him. I think you would, if you knew all; and it would be a weight off my mind if you would promise."
"I can't pretend that I shall ever like him," said the lawyer.
"I don't ask that," pleaded Jekyll, laying his hand upon the other's arm; "I only ask for justice; I only ask you to help him for my sake, when I am no longer here."
Utterson heaved an irrepressible sigh. "Well," said he, "I promise."
THE CAREW MURDER CASE
Nearly a year later, in the month of October 18—, London was startled by a crime of singular ferocity, rendered all the more notable by the high position of the victim. The details were few and startling. A maid-servant living alone in a house not far from the river had gone upstairs to bed about eleven. Although a fog rolled over the city in the small hours, the early part of the night was cloudless, and the lane, which the maid's window overlooked, was brilliantly lit by the full moon. It seems she was romantically given, for she sat down upon her box, which stood immediately under the window, and fell into a dream of musing. Never (she used to say, with streaming tears, when she narrated that experience), never had she felt more at peace with all men or thought more kindly of the world. And as she so sat she became aware of an aged and beautiful gentleman with white hair drawing near along the lane: and advancing to meet him another and very small gentleman, to whom at first she paid less attention. When they had come within speech (which was just under the maid's eyes) the older man bowed and accosted the other with a very pretty manner of politeness. It did not seem as if the subject of his address were of great importance; indeed, from his pointing, it sometimes appeared as if he were only inquiring his way; but the moon shone on his face as he spoke, and the girl was pleased to watch it, it seemed to breathe such an innocent and old-world kindness of disposition, yet with something high too, as of a well-founded self-content. Presently her eye wandered to the other, and she was surprised to recognise in him a certain Mr. Hyde, who had once visited her master, and for whom she had conceived a dislike. He had in his hand a heavy cane, with which he was trifling; but he answered never a word, and seemed to listen with an ill-contained impatience. And then all of a sudden he broke out in a great flame of anger, stamping with his foot, brandishing the cane, and carrying on (as the maid described it) like a madman. The old gentleman took a step back, with the air of one very much surprised and a trifle hurt; and at that Mr. Hyde broke out of all bounds and clubbed him to the earth. And next moment, with ape-like fury, he was trampling his victim under foot, and hailing down a storm of blows, under which the bones were audibly shattered and the body jumped upon the roadway. At the horror of these sights and sounds the maid fainted.
It was two o'clock when she came to herself and called for the police. The murderer was gone long ago; but there lay his victim in the middle of the lane, incredibly mangled. The stick with which the deed had been done, although it was of some rare and very tough and heavy wood, 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 he had been probably carrying to the post, and which bore the name and address of Mr. Utterson.
This was brought to the lawyer the next morning before he was out of bed; and he had no sooner seen it, and been told the circumstances, than he shot out a solemn lip. "I shall say nothing till I have seen the body," said he; "this may be very serious. Have the kindness to wait while I dress." And with the same grave countenance he hurried through his breakfast and drove to the police station, whither the body had been carried. As soon as he came into the cell he nodded.
"Yes," said he, "I recognise him. I am sorry to say that this is Sir Danvers Carew."
"Good God, sir," exclaimed the officer, "is it possible?" And the next moment his eye lighted up with professional ambition. "This will make a deal of noise," he said. "And perhaps you can help us to the man." And he briefly narrated what the maid had seen, and showed the broken stick.
Mr. Utterson had already quailed at the name of Hyde; but when the stick was laid before him he could doubt no longer; broken and battered as it was, he recognised it for one that he had himself presented many years before to Henry Jekyll.
"Is this Mr. Hyde a person of small stature?" he inquired.
"Particularly small and particularly wicked-looking, is what the maid calls him," said the officer.
Mr. Utterson reflected; and then, raising his head, "If you will come with me in my cab," he said, "I think I can take you to his house."
It was by this time about nine in the morning, and the first fog of the season. A great chocolate-coloured pall lowered over heaven, but the wind was continually charging and routing these embattled vapours; so that as the cab crawled from street to street, Mr. Utterson beheld a marvellous number of degrees and hues of twilight; for here it would be dark like the back-end of evening; and there would be a glow of a rich, lurid brown, like the light of some strange conflagration; and here, for a moment, the fog would be quite broken up, and a haggard shaft of daylight would glance in between the swirling wreaths. The dismal quarter of Soho seen under these changing glimpses, with its muddy ways, and slatternly passengers, and its lamps, which had never been extinguished or had been kindled afresh to combat this mournful re-invasion of darkness, seemed, in the lawyer's eyes, like a district of some city in a nightmare.
The thoughts of his mind, besides, were of the gloomiest dye; and when he glanced at the companion of his drive, he was conscious of some touch of that terror of the law and the law's officers which may at times assail the most honest.
As the cab drew up before the address indicated, the fog lifted a little, and showed him a dingy street, a gin-palace, a low French eating-house, a shop for the retail of penny numbers and twopenny salads, many ragged children huddled in the doorways, and many women of many different nationalities passing out, key in hand, to have a morning glass; and the next moment the fog settled down again upon that part, as brown as umber, and cut him off from his blackguardly surroundings. This was the home of Henry Jekyll's favourite; of a man who was heir to a quarter of a million sterling.
An ivory-faced and silvery-haired old woman opened the door. She had an evil face, smoothed by hypocrisy; but her manners were excellent. Yes, she said, this was Mr. Hyde's, but he was not at home; he had been in that night very late, but had gone away again in less than an hour; there was nothing strange in that; his habits were very irregular, and he was often absent; for instance, it was nearly two months since she had seen him till yesterday.
"Very well then, we wish to see his rooms," said the lawyer; and when the woman began to declare it was impossible, "I had better tell you who this person is," he added. "This is Inspector Newcomen of Scotland Yard."
A flash of odious joy appeared upon the woman's face. "Ah!" said she, "he is in trouble! What has he done?"
Mr. Utterson and the inspector exchanged glances. "He don't seem a very popular character," observed the latter. "And now, my good woman, just let me and this gentleman have a look about us."
In the whole extent of the house, which but for the old woman remained otherwise empty, Mr. Hyde had only used a couple of rooms; but these were furnished with luxury and good taste. A closet was filled with wine; the plate was of silver, the napery elegant; a good picture hung upon the walls, a gift (as Utterson supposed) from Henry Jekyll, who was much of a connoisseur; and the carpets were of many plies and agreeable in colour. At this moment, however, the rooms bore every mark of having been recently and hurriedly ransacked; clothes lay about the floor, with their pockets inside out; lockfast drawers stood open; and on the hearth there lay a pile of grey ashes, as though many papers had been burned. From these embers the inspector disinterred the butt-end of a green cheque-book, which had resisted the action of the fire; the other half of the stick was found behind the door; and as this clinched his suspicions, the officer declared himself delighted. A visit to the bank, where several thousand pounds were found to be lying to the murderer's credit, completed his gratification.
"You may depend upon it, sir," he told Mr. Utterson: "I have him in my hand. He must have lost his head, or he never would have left the stick or, above all, burned the cheque-book. Why, money's life to the man. We have nothing to do but wait for him at the bank, and get out the handbills."
This last, however, was not so easy of accomplishment; for Mr. Hyde had numbered few familiars—even the master of the servant-maid had only seen him twice; his family could nowhere be traced; he had never been photographed; and the few who could describe him differed widely, as common observers will. Only on one point were they agreed; and that was the haunting sense of unexpressed deformity with which the fugitive impressed his beholders.
INCIDENT OF THE LETTER
It was late in the 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 building which was indifferently known as the laboratory or the dissecting-rooms. The doctor had bought the house from the heirs of a celebrated surgeon; and, his own tastes being rather chemical than anatomical, had changed the destination of the block at the bottom of the garden. It was the first time that the lawyer had been received in that part of his friend's quarters; and he eyed the dingy windowless structure with curiosity, and gazed round with a distasteful sense of strangeness as he crossed the theatre, once crowded with eager students and now lying gaunt and silent, the tables laden with chemical apparatus, the floor strewn with crates and littered with packing straw, and the light falling dimly through the foggy cupola. At the farther end, a flight of stairs mounted to a door covered with red baize; and through this, Mr. Utterson was at last received into the doctor's cabinet. It was a large room, fitted round with glass presses, furnished, among other things, with a cheval-glass and a business-table, and looking out upon the court by three dusty windows barred with iron. The 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; he did not rise to meet his visitor, but held out a cold hand and bade him welcome in a changed voice.
"And now," said Mr. Utterson, as soon as Poole had left them, "you have heard the news?"
The doctor shuddered. "They were crying it in the square," he said. "I heard them in my dining-room."
"One word," said the lawyer. "Carew was my client, but so are you, and I want to know what I am doing. You have not been mad enough to hide this fellow?"
"Utterson, I swear to God," cried the doctor, "I swear to God I will never set eyes on him again. I bind my honour to you that I am done with him in this world. It is all at an end. And indeed he does not want my help; you do not know him as I do; he is safe, he is quite safe; mark my words, he will never more be heard of."
The lawyer listened gloomily; he did not like his friend's feverish manner. "You seem pretty sure of him," said he; "and for your sake, I hope you may be right. If it came to a trial your name might appear."
"I am quite sure of him," replied Jekyll; "I have grounds for certainty that I cannot share with any one. But there is one thing on which you may advise me. I have—I have received a letter; and I am at a loss whether I should show it to the police. I should like to leave it in your hands, Utterson; you would judge wisely, I am sure; I have so great a trust in you."
"You fear, I suppose, that it might lead to his detection?" asked the lawyer.
"No," said the other. "I cannot say that I care what becomes of Hyde; I am quite done with him. I was thinking of my own character, which this hateful business has rather exposed."
Utterson ruminated awhile; he was surprised at his friend's selfishness, and yet relieved by it. "Well," said he at last, "let me see the letter."
The letter was written in an odd, upright hand and signed "Edward Hyde": and it signified, briefly enough, that the writer's benefactor, Dr. Jekyll, whom he had long so unworthily repaid for a thousand generosities, need labour under no alarm for his safety, as he had means of escape on which he placed a sure dependence. 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.
"Have you the envelope?" he asked.
"I burned it," replied Jekyll, "before I thought what I was about. But it bore no postmark. The note was handed in."
"Shall I keep this and sleep upon it?" asked Utterson.
"I wish you to judge for me entirely," was the reply. "I have lost confidence in myself."
"Well, I shall consider," returned the lawyer.—"And now one word more: it was Hyde who dictated the terms in your will about that disappearance?"
The doctor seemed seized with a qualm of faintness; he shut his mouth tight and nodded.
"I knew it," said Utterson. "He meant to murder you. You have had a fine escape."
"I have had what is far more to the purpose," returned the doctor solemnly: "I have had a lesson—O God, Utterson, what a lesson I have had!" And he covered his face for a moment with his hands.
On his way out, the lawyer stopped and had a word or two with Poole. "By the by," said he, "there was a letter handed in to-day: what was the messenger like?" But Poole was positive nothing had come except by post; "and only circulars by that," he added.
This news sent off the visitor with his fears renewed. Plainly the letter had come by the laboratory door; possibly indeed, it had been written in the cabinet; and if that were so, it must be differently judged, and handled with the more caution. The newsboys, as he went, were crying themselves hoarse along the footways: "Special edition. Shocking murder of an M.P." That was the funeral oration of one friend and client; and he could not help a certain apprehension lest the good name of another should be sucked down in the eddy of the scandal. It was, at least, a ticklish decision that he had to make; and, self-reliant as he was by habit, he began to cherish a longing for advice. It was not to be had directly; but perhaps, he thought, it might be fished for.
Presently after, he sat on one side of his own hearth, with Mr. Guest, his head clerk, upon the other, and midway between, at a nicely calculated distance from the fire, a bottle of a particular old wine that had long dwelt unsunned in the foundations of his house. The fog still slept on the wing above the drowned city, where the lamps glimmered like carbuncles; and through the muffle and smother of these fallen clouds, the procession of the town's life was still rolling on through the great arteries with a sound as of a mighty wind. But the room was gay with firelight. In the bottle the acids were long ago resolved; the imperial dye had softened with time, as the colour grows richer in stained windows; and the glow of hot autumn afternoons on hillside vineyards was ready to be set free and to disperse the fogs of London. Insensibly the lawyer melted. There was no man from whom he kept fewer secrets than Mr. Guest; and he was not always sure that he kept as many as he meant. Guest had often been on business to the doctor's; he knew Poole; he could scarce have failed to hear of Mr. Hyde's familiarity about the house; he might draw conclusions: was it not as well, then, that he should see a letter which put that mystery to rights? and above all since Guest, being a great student and critic of handwriting, would consider the step natural and obliging? The clerk, besides, was a man of counsel; he would scarce read so strange a document without dropping a remark; and by that remark Mr. Utterson might shape his future course.
"This is a sad business about Sir Danvers," he said.
"Yes, sir, indeed. It has elicited a great deal of public feeling," returned Guest. "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; it is between ourselves, for I scarce know what to do about it; it is an ugly business at the best. But there it is; quite in your way: a murderer's autograph."
Guest's eyes brightened, and he sat down at once and studied it with passion. "No, sir," he said; "not mad; but it is an odd hand."
"And by all accounts a very odd writer," added the lawyer.
Just then the servant entered with a note.
"Is that from Dr. Jekyll, sir?" inquired the clerk. "I thought I knew the writing. Anything private, Mr. Utterson?"
"Only an invitation to dinner. Why? do you want to see it?"
"One moment. I thank you, sir"; and the clerk laid the two sheets of paper alongside and sedulously compared their contents. "Thank you, sir," he said at last, returning both; "it's a very interesting autograph."
There was a pause, during which Mr. Utterson struggled with himself. "Why did you compare them, Guest?" he inquired suddenly.
"Well, sir," returned the clerk, "there's a rather singular resemblance; the two hands are in many points identical: only differently sloped."
"Rather quaint," said Utterson.
"It is, as you say, rather quaint," returned Guest.
"I wouldn't speak of this note, you know," said the master.
"No, sir," said the clerk. "I understand."
But no sooner was Mr. Utterson alone that night than he locked the note into his safe, where it reposed from that time forward. "What!" he thought. "Henry Jekyll forge for a murderer!" And his blood ran cold in his veins.
REMARKABLE INCIDENT OF DR. LANYON
Time ran on; thousands of pounds were offered in reward, for the death of Sir Danvers was resented as a public injury; but Mr. Hyde had disappeared out of the ken of the police as though he had never existed. Much of his past was unearthed, indeed, and all disreputable: tales came out of the man's cruelty, at once so callous and violent, of his vile life, of his strange associates, of the hatred that seemed to have surrounded his career; but of his present whereabouts, not a whisper. From the time he had left the house in Soho on the morning of the murder, he was simply blotted out; and gradually, as time drew on, Mr. Utterson began to recover from the hotness of his alarm, and to grow more at quiet with himself. The death of Sir Danvers was, to his way of thinking, more than paid for by the disappearance of Mr. Hyde. Now that that evil influence had been withdrawn, a new life began for Dr. Jekyll. He came out of his seclusion, renewed relations with his friends, became once more their familiar guest and entertainer; and whilst he had always been known for charities, he was now no less distinguished for religion. He was busy, he was much in the open air, he did good; his face seemed to open and brighten, as if with an inward consciousness of service; and for more than two months the doctor was at peace.
On the 8th of January Utterson had dined at the doctor's with a small party; Lanyon had been there; and the face of the host had looked from one to the other as in the old days when the trio were inseparable friends. On the 12th, and again on the 14th, the door was shut against the lawyer. "The doctor was confined to the house," Poole said, "and saw no one." On the 15th he tried again, and was again refused; and having now been used for the last two months to see his friend almost daily, he found this return of solitude to weigh upon his spirits. The fifth night he had in Guest to dine with him; and the sixth he betook himself to Dr. Lanyon's.
There at least he was not denied admittance; but when he came in, he was shocked at the change which had taken place in the doctor's appearance. He had his death-warrant written legibly upon his face. The rosy man had grown pale; his flesh had fallen away; he was visibly balder and older; and yet it was not so much these tokens of a swift physical decay that arrested the lawyer's notice, as a look in the eye and quality of manner that seemed to testify to some deep-seated terror of the mind. It was unlikely that the doctor should fear death; and yet that was what Utterson was tempted to suspect. "Yes," he thought; "he is a doctor, he must know his own state and that his days are counted; and the knowledge is more than he can bear." And yet when Utterson remarked on his ill-looks, it was with an air of great firmness that Lanyon declared himself a doomed man.
"I have had a shock," he said, "and I shall never recover. It is a question of weeks. Well, life has been pleasant; I liked it; yes, sir, I used to like it. I sometimes think if we knew all we should be more glad to get away."
"Jekyll is ill too," observed Utterson. "Have you seen him?"
But Lanyon's face changed, and he held up a trembling hand. "I wish to see or hear no more of Dr. Jekyll," he said in a loud, unsteady voice. "I am quite done with that person; and I beg that you will spare me any allusion to one whom I regard as dead."
"Tut-tut," said Mr. Utterson; and then, after a considerable pause, "Can't I do anything?" he inquired. "We are three very old friends, Lanyon; we shall not live to make others."
"Nothing can be done," returned Lanyon; "ask himself."
"He will not see me," said the lawyer.
"I am not surprised at that," was the reply. "Some day, Utterson, after I am dead, you may perhaps come to learn the right and wrong of this. I cannot tell you. And in the meantime, if you can sit and talk with me of other things, for God's sake, stay and do so; but if you cannot keep clear of this accursed topic, then, in God's name, go, for I cannot bear it."
As soon as he got home, Utterson sat down and wrote to Jekyll, complaining of his exclusion from the house, and asking the cause of this unhappy break with Lanyon; and the next day brought him a long answer, often very pathetically worded, and sometimes darkly mysterious in drift. The quarrel with Lanyon was incurable. "I do not blame our old friend," Jekyll wrote, "but I share his view that we must never meet. I mean from henceforth to lead a life of extreme seclusion; you must not be surprised, nor must you doubt my friendship, if my door is often shut even to you. You must suffer me to go my own dark way. I have brought on myself a punishment and a danger that I cannot name. If I am the chief of sinners, I am the chief of sufferers also. I could not think that this earth contained a place for sufferings and terrors so unmanning; and you can but do one thing, Utterson, to lighten this destiny, and that is to respect my silence." Utterson was amazed; the dark influence of Hyde had been withdrawn, the doctor had returned to his old tasks and amities; a week ago, the prospect had smiled with every promise of a cheerful and an honoured age; and now in a moment, friendship and peace of mind and the whole tenor of his life were wrecked. So great and unprepared a change pointed to madness; but in view of Lanyon's manner and words, there must lie for it some deeper ground.
A week afterwards Dr. Lanyon took to his bed, and in something less than a fortnight he was dead. The night after the funeral, at which he had been sadly affected, Utterson locked the door of his business-room, and sitting there by the light of a melancholy candle, drew out and set before him an envelope addressed by the hand and sealed with the seal of his dead friend. "PRIVATE: for the hands of G. J. Utterson ALONE, and in case of his predecease to be destroyed unread," so it was emphatically superscribed; and the lawyer dreaded to behold the contents. "I have buried one friend to-day," he thought: "what if this should cost me another?" And then he condemned the fear as a disloyalty, and broke the seal. Within there was another enclosure, likewise sealed, and marked upon the cover as "not to be opened till the death or disappearance of Dr. Henry Jekyll." Utterson could not trust his eyes. Yes, it was disappearance; here again, as in the mad will which he had long ago restored to its author, here again were the idea of a disappearance and the name of Henry Jekyll bracketed. But in the will that idea had sprung from the sinister suggestion of the man Hyde; it was set there with a purpose all too plain and horrible. Written by the hand of Lanyon, what should it mean? A great curiosity came on the trustee, to disregard the prohibition and dive at once to the bottom of these mysteries; but professional honour and faith to his dead friend were stringent obligations; and the packet slept in the inmost corner of his private safe.