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  • Gates of Imagination presents:

  • The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde by  Robert Louis Stevenson. Read by Arthur Lane.

  • STORY OF THE DOOR Mr. Utterson the lawyer was a man of  

  • a rugged countenance that was never lighted bysmile; 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 downgoing 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. Uttersonfor he was undemonstrative at the best,  

  • and even his friendship 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. Henceno 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 otheror 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 weekand not only set aside occasions of pleasure,  

  • but even resisted the calls of businessthat 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 weekdays. The inhabitants were all doing  well, it seemed and all emulously hoping to do  

  • better still, and laying out the surplus of  their grains 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 shutterswell-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 storeys high; showed no windownothing but a door on the lower storey 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 entrythe 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  

  • asleepstreet after street, all lighted up as if  for a procession and all as empty as a churchtill  

  • at last I got into that state of mind whenman 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, sirthe 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 groundIt 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 few halloa, 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 doctorfor 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 sightSo 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 coolnessfrightened  too, I could see thatbut 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 mentionthough 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 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 myselfand 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 wasforgery. Not a bit of it. The cheque was genuine.”

  • Tut-tut!” said Mr. Utterson.

  • “I see you feel as I do,” said MrEnfield. “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 the place with  the door, in consequence. Though even that,  

  • you know, is far from explaining all,” he addedand with the words fell into a vein of musing.

  • From this he was recalled by MrUtterson 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  

  • happen to have noticed his addresshe lives in some square or other.”

  • And you never asked about theplace  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. And yet it's not so sure; for the buildings  

  • are so packed together about the 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. It was a man of the name of Hyde.”

  • Hm,” 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 down-right detestable. I never sawman 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 manand 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; fordeclare 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 Enfieldsurprised 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 neverword; 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,