Chapter 1The story begins with a description of Mr. Utterson, a lawyer in London. Mr. Utterson is a reserved, conservative man who does not reveal his true, vibrant personality. He tolerates the strangeness and faults of other. Early in his life, he watched as his brother fell to ruin, and it is noted that he is often the last respectable person that men who are turning to evil or ruin have to talk to.
This foreshadows Utterson's involvement with upcoming evil.Mr. Utterson is friends with Richard Enfield, although the two are totally different from one another. They always took walks with each other on Sundays no matter what else they might have to do. As they walk down a lane on Sunday that would usually be crowded with merchants and children during the week, Enfield points out an old building without many windows, and only a basement door.Enfield tells a story of how, one night at about 3:00 am, he saw a strange, deformed man round the corner and bump into a young girl. The strange man did not stop but simply walked right over the young girl, who cried out in terror.
Enfield rushed over and attended the girl along with her family. Still, the strange man carried on, so Enfield chased him down and urged him back. A doctor was called and Enfield and the doctor felt an odd hatred of the man, warning the man that they would discredit him in every way possible unless he compensated the girl. The strange man agreed to offer 100 British pounds.Enfield notes that the man is like Satan in the way he seems emotionally cold to the situation. The strange man presented a cheque signed by an important person, which they together cashed the next morning.
Enfield states that he refers to the building as Black Mail House. Utterson asks Enfield if he ever asked who lived in the building, but Enfield explains that he doesn't ask questions about strange things:"the more it looks like Queer Street, the less I ask."The building appears lived in, and the two men carry on their walk. Enfield continues that the strange man he saw that night looked deformed, though he could explain how. Utterson assures Enfield that his story has caught his interest. The two agree never to talk about the story again.Chapter 2The same evening, Utterson came home.