BOOK THE SECOND: BIRDS OF A FEATHER
Chapter 6: A Riddle Without an Answer (continued)
Don't let us sing Fal la, my dear Mortimer (which is comparatively
unmeaning), but let us sing that we give up guessing the riddle
'Are you in communication with this girl, Eugene, and is what
these people say true?'
'I concede both admissions to my honourable and learned friend.'
'Then what is to come of it? What are you doing? Where are you
'My dear Mortimer, one would think the schoolmaster had left
behind him a catechizing infection. You are ruffled by the want
of another cigar. Take one of these, I entreat. Light it at mine,
which is in perfect order. So! Now do me the justice to observe
that I am doing all I can towards self-improvement, and that you
have a light thrown on those household implements which, when
you only saw them as in a glass darkly, you were hastily--I must
say hastily--inclined to depreciate. Sensible of my deficiencies, I
have surrounded myself with moral influences expressly meant to
promote the formation of the domestic virtues. To those
influences, and to the improving society of my friend from
boyhood, commend me with your best wishes.'
'Ah, Eugene!' said Lightwood, affectionately, now standing near
him, so that they both stood in one little cloud of smoke; 'I would
that you answered my three questions! What is to come of it?
What are you doing? Where are you going?'
'And my dear Mortimer,' returned Eugene, lightly fanning away
the smoke with his hand for the better exposition of his frankness
of face and manner, 'believe me, I would answer them instantly if
I could. But to enable me to do so, I must first have found out the
troublesome conundrum long abandoned. Here it is. Eugene
Wrayburn.' Tapping his forehead and breast. 'Riddle-me, riddle-
me-ree, perhaps you can't tell me what this may be?--No, upon my
life I can't. I give it up!'