Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Chapter 1 - Story of the Door
Mr. Utterson is a stuffy lawyer, unassuming, straight-laced, reliable--traits that make him a trustworthy friend. An attribute he especially takes pride in is his tolerance. He is known to offer help more than rebuke. Thus, he is often the friend who is called upon to help out those who are downtrodden and in need.
"I incline to Cain's heresy," he used to say quaintly: "I let my brother go to the devil in his own way." Chapter 1, pg. 37
On Sundays, Mr. Utterson takes walks through the streets of London with Mr. Richard Enfield, a young businessman and distant kinsman. Observers notice that they seem to be bound by their similar dull natures.
On one of their Sunday walks, they come upon a quaint little street, to a building with a peculiar door, which prompts Mr. Enfield to recount an odd story:
One early morning while the city was asleep, Mr. Enfield witnessed a man trample over a little girl who was running for a doctor. The man continued on his way as if nothing happened. Mr. Enfield chased the man down, cornered and brought him back to the scene of the accident. The family of the little girl was causing a commotion and the doctor, who the girl was running for, arrived on the scene as another witness. Not wanting to let the man go unpunished, Mr. Enfield and the doctor coerced the man to pay the girl's family a sum of one hundred pounds. The mysterious man's response to the situation was, "No gentleman but wishes to avoid a scene" (pg. 41). The man escorted them to the door, went in with a key, and came out with ten pounds of gold and a check worth nearly one hundred pounds. He even stayed with them until the bank opened and to Mr. Enfield's surprise, the check was legitimate.
Mr. Enfield recalls that the man was of an unpleasant nature, with a disfigurement of some sort, although there was nothing physically obvious. Mr. Enfield makes it plain that the man is of bad character, but apologetically hints to Mr. Utterson that the bearer of the check's signature is well known to him. Since the signature is of a respectable person, Mr. Enfield suspects some sort of bribery involved. He calls the place with the door, "Black Mail House." Mr. Utterson makes some inquiries, but Mr. Enfield says that he does not ask too many questions when things look suspicious, lest he actually discovers something dreadful. Mr. Enfield says,
"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." Chapter 1, pg. 42-43
Mr. Utterson agrees with this assessment. But Mr. Enfield continues and says that he has studied the place. He has noticed that there is no one that goes in and about except for that strange gentleman. There is a chimney that is generally smoking, but "since the buildings are so packed together about the court, it's hard to say where one ends and another begins" (pg. 43).
Mr. Utterson asks about the name of the mysterious man. Mr. Enfield says that it is Hyde. Mr. Enfield tries to describe what kind of man he is, but can only say what he said before--the there is something deeply disturbing about him. Mr. Utterson tells Mr. Enfield that he already knows the name of the bearer of the check, and inquires whether he has gotten the story correctly. Mr. Enfield insists that he has told it as is. They agree not to refer to this matter again.