Robert Louis


Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Der seltsame Fall Dr. Jekyll und Mr. Hyde

Übersetzt von Barbara Cramer-Nauhaus, Lizenz der Aufbau Verlagsgruppe
Synchronisation und Ergänzungen © Doppeltext 2012














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 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. Ut­ter­son; for 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.
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 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 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 storeys high; showed no win­dow, noth­ing 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 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 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 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 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 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.
Black mail 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 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 hap­pen 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.
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 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.”

Robert Louis Stevenson
Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde / Der seltsame Fall Dr. Jekyll und Mr. Hyde
Zweisprachige Ausgabe
Übersetzt von Barbara Cramer-Nauhaus

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Übersetzung © Aufbau Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin 1953, 2008

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