"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 of 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 apropos, 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.