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Mrs. Hyde
by David Dean

“With every day, and from both sides of my intelligence, the moral and the intellectual, I thus drew steadily nearer to the truth, by whose partial discovery I have been doomed to such a dreadful shipwreck: that man is not truly one, but truly two.”

—Robert Louis Stevenson,
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

“How was this delivered, Owens?” asked Dr. Beckett Marchland, turning the envelope round in his hands for any sign of a postmark or return address.

“By a surly and unclean boy, sir,” Owens answered the slender younger man in whose bachelor home he was employed.

Marchland glanced up at his butler, a big, sour-looking Welshman, with a thick head of pomaded hair and a dark, drooping moustache. “Did you tip him?”

“I did not, sir. When he thrust out a dirty palm before having given me the letter, I rejected the idea.”

“Yet you obtained it nonetheless . . .”

“My reflexes remain sharp, sir. I’m confident our young messenger was adequately recompensed by the sender.”

Slicing open the contested delivery with an ivory-handled letter opener, Beckett remarked, “You really are the most stubborn person, Owens—you know my feelings on these matters. In future, I must insist you extend my hospitality without regard for your own opinion of the tradesman, messenger, or visitor that might show up at my door. I don’t know why we have to go on about it.”

With pursed lips and small, deep-set eyes, Owens’s expression seemed always one of disappointment, lightening to one of mere doubt in happier moments. “It’s your money, of course, Doctor. If you wish to reward rudeness or poor service that is your right and privilege.”

“Is it?” Marchland questioned, extracting the letter and smoothing it out on the green felt of his desk blotter. Dear Doctor, it began in the usual fashion. The paper was plain and without a letterhead. “I’ve had both friends and patients complain of your attitude, you know,” he added, sweeping back the long auburn locks that he wore in the fashion made currently popular by the writer and poet Oscar Wilde.

“Have you, sir?” Owens responded, attempting to read the missive over his employer’s shoulder. “I was unaware.”

Catching him at it, Marchland pointed at the door. “I’ll ring if I’m in need of anything.”

“Perhaps if I knew the names of those dissatisfied persons, I might . . . ?”

“ . . . single them out for particular persecution?”

Owens slipped away without further enquiry.

“Dreadful man . . .” Marchland muttered, returning his attention to the letter, “. . . honestly don’t know why I tolerate him.”

My husband has come into bad company, the letter continued without preamble, and I fear for what might become of him, and for what he might have done, and might yet do. It is only because I have been assured by others that someone in your profession must protect all confidences placed in him that I dare write this letter. I must also consider my own situation, which is not a good one at this moment.

You see, sir, Mr. Hyde has made the acquaintance of a gentleman, if that term truly applies under these circumstances, by the name of Dr. Henry Jekyll—perhaps you know him yourself, being a fellow doctor. How they met, and under what circumstances, I do not know, but I do know this much for a certainty: My husband’s situation has deteriorated in dramatic and terrifying fashion under his treatment.

You may wonder that I am unable to explain their relationship, but Mr. Hyde has refused to take me into his confidence. When I first discovered, through a careless comment, that he was being treated by this person for some ailment, or condition, I was astonished! Hitherto, my husband had never, to my knowledge, been secretive or kept me outside his confidence, and I knew of no health complaints that he might have had. I was both alarmed and wounded by this accidental news, and demanded to know what ailed him. Yet, he would not be moved to share anything more, other than hinting in a furtive way, so much out of his character, that we would profit from his relationship with Jekyll in more ways than one.

Inferring from this that Edward was, in some way, something other than just a patient of the doctor’s only frightened me more, for I feared that Dr. Jekyll was using my Edward in some type of medical experimentation. I now know this to be true!

Edward was a kind and gentle person, Dr. Marchland. The man who now bears my dear husband’s countenance is a travesty of the man I married, being both sly and brutal as it suits him, while exulting in any injuries he causes to others—and I know there have been others.

We’ve not met, sir, as we would not move in the same circles, but I’ve heard tell of your kindness, and your gift of healing those whose minds have become disordered, and even dangerous, if the newspapers are to be believed. I pray that they can be in this case, because I need your help, Dr. Marchland! I cannot risk coming to you—Mr. Hyde has assigned the awful woman he hired as our housekeeper to watch me in his absence. She makes little pretense of her duty, and I often turn to find her smooth white face peering at me from some corner of the room. Though an older woman with excellent manners, she is furtive and subtly frightening, seeming to enjoy my predicament.

Please, I beg you—respond to this letter and assure me that I can confide in you without fear, and that you will guide me as best you can under these conditions that I must impose. This unholy alliance betwixt Edward and Henry Jekyll terrifies me—the strange effect of their relationship on Mr. Hyde is both destroying our marriage and, I suspect, spreading beyond into the very worst streets of London. But I will say no more of this until I have word from you which I pray will be very soon.


Mrs. Edward Hyde


A hastily scribbled postscript provided a rented box number in Soho. Marchland studied the careful, feminine lettering in silence for several moments, then laid the cheap paper down on his desk. His calendar showed the date to be August 30, 1888. Glancing out the tall windows that looked out onto the street, he saw the yellow fog that had come to dominate so much of London’s weather that season returning with the fall of evening.

Rising, he crossed the floor to shut the windows and draw the thick curtains, though it remained quite warm in the house. “Damn,” he muttered, then coughed into his handkerchief. His gaze returned to the letter that rested beneath the soft glow of the lamp. “Nothing I can do . . .” he stated under his breath, “. . . analysis by mail . . . ridiculous . . . I’d be laughed out of . . .”

“Will you be eating in, sir?” Owens asked.

“Mother of God,” Marchland cried out, “how on earth does someone your size glide about like you do?” Placing a hand over his heart, he declared, “You should know, Owens, that you’ve not been included in my will—you stand to gain nothing by my demise! My father always said that you were the most dangerous man in his regiment, so I can only make dark conjectures as to why he insisted I take you on in order to inherit.”

Sitting back down at his desk, he concluded, “Yes, Owens, I will take my dinner in, thank you. Now please stop glaring at me and go away again, I’ve some correspondence to tend to.”

Turning to the letter, he drew a pen from the inkwell and a fresh sheet of paper from his desk while lighting a cigaret. Hearing the door close, he called out, “And do knock next time, Owens—this is a civilized household!”

Owens had been the colour sergeant of his father’s regiment in South Africa. Why the old man in his final days had saddled him with the unsettling brute, Marchland couldn’t grasp. He found him a censorious and somewhat frightening man (much like Mrs. Hyde’s maidservant, it crossed his mind) yet, somehow, in his stolid manner, a reassuring presence for all that. Which returned his thoughts to the subject at hand—the mysterious Mrs. Hyde.

There was no question that he could be of any use to her, as she appeared to be asking for help for her husband, not for herself, and she had made it plain in her correspondence that her husband was not to be directly consulted.

Lastly, and quite importantly, she had been correct in thinking he might know Henry Jekyll, though he couldn’t claim to be more than an acquaintance, if barely that—they had been introduced once in a theatre lobby where he had shaken Marchland’s hand, given him a limp smile, then turned away to busy himself with others in attendance. On another occasion Marchland thought he noticed him at one of his lectures on alienism. If it had been Jekyll, he had looked on rather disapprovingly, Marchland recalled.

Yet Henry had a reputation as a popular host in the city and an all-round jolly fellow—a big man with big appetites. Then, and this part troubled Marchland in light of the letter’s intelligence, it had all stopped—Henry had withdrawn himself from society and shut himself away in the laboratory attached to his house. It was understood that he was in the midst of some controversial chemical research, but as to its purpose, none in his former circle appeared to know, nor would Jekyll be drawn out on the subject the few times he was caught out of doors by friends.

Curious rumors had begun to circulate that Jekyll was using himself as his own guinea pig and that his experimentation had produced an astounding, and sinister, result—the quite literal transformation of Jekyll into another person for brief periods of time; a person different from himself in both appearance and personality. As proof, gossips pointed out that whenever Jekyll’s furtive, and much disliked, new friend was about, Jekyll himself was never to be found, and vice versa. This had begun the previous autumn, as Marchland recalled it.

It was utter nonsense, of course, as Mrs. Hyde’s letter appeared to cast a very different light on the matter. Still, Marchland reminded himself, there was simply nothing he could do for her and her benighted spouse. Stubbing out his cigaret, he set down his reply.

Dear Mrs. Hyde,

Having received and carefully considered your letter, I felt compelled to make an answer, albeit one in which I fear I must disappoint. As you seem to know something of this rather new branch of medical science that I practice, you should find no difficulty in comprehending my dilemma in the case you put forth. Quite simply, I have no patient. Though you certainly make a compelling and, I might add, moving case for your husband’s deteriorating mental condition, without his cooperation, and just as importantly, his physical presence, I cannot possibly diagnose nor treat him. In this requirement I am no different from any other physician.

Marchland paused to glance round the darkening room, noting the shadows in the furthest corners spreading across the Persian rug like a stain. Turning up the lamp, he lit another of his gold-tipped cigarets and considered his next words.

Perhaps, if I might make a suggestion, he resumed, you could approach your husband with your concerns during one of his lighter moments. It has been my experience that persons afflicted with bouts of mania invariably have peaks and valleys. If such is the case with Mr. Hyde (and I have no way of knowing this) you might express your obvious devotion to him during one of these placid phases by declaring your concern and the possible solution of treatment.

If he is amenable to your ministrations, then I would be most pleased to have him as a patient, for as is the case with all doctors, I detest unnecessary suffering and anguish, and both are clearly evident in your letter. Perhaps by alleviating your husband’s mental torment, yours too may be allayed. If you think it might help—as it turns out, I do know Dr. Jekyll a little—perhaps I could approach him discreetly about Mr. Hyde. He might be of some aid in influencing your husband to schedule an appointment with me. However, I will be guided by you in this matter.


Dr. Beckett Aquinas Marchland


Pulling on the bell rope, Marchland placed the letter in an envelope and was in the midst of writing the postbox number on it when the door resounded with a thunderous blow and Owens entered.

“Do doors last long in your native Wales, Owens, or have they been dispensed with altogether?” Marchland asked. Before the butler could reply, he continued, “Post this for me when you have a moment . . . and try not to knock down any houses along the way, will you?”

Frowning somewhat more than usual, Owens took himself away without a word, leaving the door standing open in silent reproach.


Mrs. Hyde’s reply was prompt, arriving by messenger the morning of September the first. Taking the proffered envelope from the salver dwarfed by Owens’s great paw, and seeing the handwriting, Marchland asked, “Same boy, was it?”

“It was, sir, and no cleaner nor better-mannered than before.”

“And . . . ?”

“He was recompensed, if that is your question, Doctor.”

Glancing at his manservant from the corner of his eye, Marchland answered, “Good for you, Owens. You have the makings of a human being about you, I do declare.” Slitting the envelope open, he added, “Can’t we do something about that suit, Owens? You’re fair bursting out of it, can’t be comfortable. You know who my tailor is, go down there at once and have him fit you up.”

Before Owens could object, he added, “And take Cook out with you and get her a new hat—I understand women are always in need of those.”

As Owens looked alarmed, he explained, “That’s the woman you see moving about in the kitchen and pantry, old man—I pay her to prepare our meals. Haven’t you noticed?”

Marchland knew that he had, of course, and had noted a spark between the two. Knowing Owens to have been a lifelong bachelor, and Mrs. Flowerday a widow, he couldn’t resist meddling.

Taking up his coffee, he finished, “It’s a beautiful morning for a change, Owens, and you’re completely blocking my view of it—off with you now.”

The butler shifted toward the door with a puzzled glance back at his employer. “What kind of suit, sir?”

“Oh . . . I don’t know, Owens, I’m certain that Mrs. Flowerday will have opinions on all that. She’s the one that has to look at you—I mostly close my eyes when you’re around, you frightful fellow.”

Gazing out into the small back garden of his townhouse, he breathed in the surprisingly fresh air of a late summer morning. It appeared that London had been granted a reprieve from its sooty atmosphere, and Marchland inhaled the dewy scent of roses with delight. Unfolding the letter with a light heart, he read—

Dear Doctor Marchland,

You were most kind to consider my situation, and also quite correct in assuming that I would be disappointed with the answer you have given. I do now comprehend the professional dilemma that my pleas for Edward have created. You must think me very foolish to have written in the first place. I’m not quite sure what I expected from an alienist, something akin to magic, it now appears to me—I was hoping that you could offer some practical advice on bringing Edward back to his old self and, if I’m being honest, perhaps even some kind of powders or potion that might restore him—an antidote to whatever Dr. Jekyll has been administering to my husband. As you know, he is a chemist . . . or alchemist, more like.

Which brings me to the point of this reply—please, Dr. Marchland, under no circumstances approach Henry Jekyll about my husband. I know that you meant well by your offer, but you really mustn’t. You’ve no idea what Edward is capable of if he were to find out that I had taken you into my confidence in any way, and I assure you, he would find out! There are no secrets between Dr. Jekyll and Edward, sir, no matter what that odious hypocrite Jekyll might tell you.

In order that you might more fully grasp the situation, I am going to share with you a confidence that will demonstrate all that I only hinted at in my previous letter and make it clear that Jekyll cannot be trusted in this affair.

This past winter, I believe it was late January, I became concerned when my husband was even later than usual in returning home. He and Jekyll had taken up their relationship the previous autumn, and since then I’d grown accustomed, if unhappily so, to Edward’s late hours—most nights he didn’t come in until well after midnight. That night, however, he did not return at all, and by breakfast time I was frantic with worry.

I had just decided that I would risk his wrath and go round to Jekyll’s house when he threw open the door, his face pale with rage, his teeth bared like an animal’s, and threw his top hat across the room and into the fireplace, where it began to scorch and smoke. Thinking him drunk, I made to pull it out when he commanded me to stop. “I’ll buy another,” he snarled. “Perhaps several, if I wish.” He pointed his walking stick at me like a rapier as if to skewer me with it.

“Edward . . . what has happened?” was all I could manage, taking in how ill and frightening he looked.

My husband is a small man, Dr. Marchland, and of a delicate build. Once, I thought of him as graceful and handsome as a Greek god, but at that moment, looking at him in evening clothes that hung from his frame, his features ghastly and hateful, he inspired nothing so much as loathing and terror in me. He was like some parody of a human being dressed up for a party.

“Happened?” he laughed. “Why I’ve just been out for a stroll, that’s all, taking in the air, when some silly child—a young girl, I think—collided with me at a corner. The little thing bounced off me like a billiard ball and flat onto her back, while I never slowed my momentum, you see, simply walked over her, trod her into the street. What a howling she set up!”

“Edward,” I cried, “please tell me that what you’re saying isn’t true—can’t be true!”

“Why should I lie to you, my dear?” he answered in a silky, insinuating manner. “Am I responsible for children roaming about in the darkness? What of her parents—do they bear no responsibility for sending her out into the night? It can be dangerous, you know, in certain districts, after darkness falls, of that I can assure you.”

The thought of his trampling a small child made me feel ill and quite faint, but I managed to enquire, “The girl, Edward, is she all right? Did you see to it that she received aid?”

The rage returned to his pale face, his eyes blazing. “I was given no choice, was I?” he roared. “Before I could get away, several men seized me and threatened to send for the police if I didn’t do right by the little wretch and her family. Blackmail, don’t you see?” The slyness returned to his narrow features. “I took them round to Jekyll’s. Naturally, he was only too glad to pay the sum agreed to by the parties concerned—a hundred pounds!—an enormous sum for those troglodytes—I suspect little of it will reach the girl but be pissed away in the gin houses such people are so fond of. The whores too—mustn’t forget them—filthy things!”

I believe I began to weep at this point. I was both terrified and sickened by the man my once beautiful and sensitive husband had become.

With that, Edward tossed a leather folder onto the table and brushed me aside as if I were of no consequence, saying, “We needn’t worry about money any longer, dearest,” and stalked off to bed in that peculiar manner of walking that he has acquired since meeting Jekyll.

Wiping the tears from my eyes, I picked up the folder and opened it. Within were a series of numbered cheques printed out in the name of Dr. Henry Jekyll. I scarce knew what to make of it all.

There are other things that I could relate, Dr. Marchland, but I trust the episode that I’ve just recounted will suffice to discourage you from taking any action as regards Dr. Henry Jekyll. If my husband has become like a man possessed, then Jekyll is the one responsible for imbuing him with the spirit of evil, and the cheque book is clear evidence of their unholy collusion.

With heavy heart,

Mrs. Edward Hyde


Marchland laid the letter down on the table, his appetite for breakfast replaced with a sour trickle of anxiety. Even the garden outside the open French windows appeared to have lost its lushness, its blossoms tinged with the grey of London soot. The shadow of a passing cloud slipped across the lawn like the furtive image of Edward Hyde that had formed in Marchland’s imagination.

Lighting one of his gold-tips, he inhaled deeply, thinking: If she’s telling half the truth, Hyde is a dangerous man—and that was eight months ago—how much worse might he have become in the meantime . . . ?

Read the exciting conclusion in this month’s issue on sale now!

Copyright © 2023. Mrs. Hyde by David Dean

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