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| Home | Reading Room DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE

by Robert Louis Stevenson

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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Now that that evil influence had been withdrawn, a new life began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 do but 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 bracketted.
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.

It is one thing to mortify curiosity, another to conquer it;
and it may be doubted if, from that day forth, Utterson desired
the society of his surviving friend with the same eagerness. He
thought of him kindly; but his thoughts were disquieted and
fearful. He went to call indeed; but he was perhaps relieved to
be denied admittance; perhaps, in his heart, he preferred to speak
with Poole upon the doorstep and surrounded by the air and sounds
of the open city, rather than to be admitted into that house of
voluntary bondage, and to sit and speak with its inscrutable
recluse. Poole had, indeed, no very pleasant news to communicate.
The doctor, it appeared, now more than ever confined himself to
the cabinet over the laboratory, where he would sometimes even
sleep; he was out of spirits, he had grown very silent, he did not
read; it seemed as if he had something on his mind. Utterson
became so used to the unvarying character of these reports, that
he fell off little by little in the frequency of his visits.



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