Our mutual friend, p.23
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       Our Mutual Friend, p.23

           Charles Dickens
 

  Chapter 6

  A RIDDLE WITHOUT AN ANSWER

  Again Mr Mortimer Lightwood and Mr Eugene Wrayburn sat together in theTemple. This evening, however, they were not together in the place ofbusiness of the eminent solicitor, but in another dismal set ofchambers facing it on the same second-floor; on whose dungeon-like blackouter-door appeared the legend:

  PRIVATE

  MR EUGENE WRAYBURN

  MR MORTIMER LIGHTWOOD

  (Mr Lightwood's Offices opposite.)

  Appearances indicated that this establishment was a very recentinstitution. The white letters of the inscription were extremely whiteand extremely strong to the sense of smell, the complexion of thetables and chairs was (like Lady Tippins's) a little too blooming tobe believed in, and the carpets and floorcloth seemed to rush at thebeholder's face in the unusual prominency of their patterns. But theTemple, accustomed to tone down both the still life and the human lifethat has much to do with it, would soon get the better of all that.

  'Well!' said Eugene, on one side of the fire, 'I feel tolerablycomfortable. I hope the upholsterer may do the same.'

  'Why shouldn't he?' asked Lightwood, from the other side of the fire.

  'To be sure,' pursued Eugene, reflecting, 'he is not in the secret ofour pecuniary affairs, so perhaps he may be in an easy frame of mind.'

  'We shall pay him,' said Mortimer.

  'Shall we, really?' returned Eugene, indolently surprised. 'You don'tsay so!'

  'I mean to pay him, Eugene, for my part,' said Mortimer, in a slightlyinjured tone.

  'Ah! I mean to pay him too,' retorted Eugene. 'But then I mean so muchthat I--that I don't mean.'

  'Don't mean?'

  'So much that I only mean and shall always only mean and nothing more,my dear Mortimer. It's the same thing.'

  His friend, lying back in his easy chair, watched him lying back in hiseasy chair, as he stretched out his legs on the hearth-rug, and said,with the amused look that Eugene Wrayburn could always awaken in himwithout seeming to try or care:

  'Anyhow, your vagaries have increased the bill.'

  'Calls the domestic virtues vagaries!' exclaimed Eugene, raising hiseyes to the ceiling.

  'This very complete little kitchen of ours,' said Mortimer, 'in whichnothing will ever be cooked--'

  'My dear, dear Mortimer,' returned his friend, lazily lifting his heada little to look at him, 'how often have I pointed out to you that itsmoral influence is the important thing?'

  'Its moral influence on this fellow!' exclaimed Lightwood, laughing.

  'Do me the favour,' said Eugene, getting out of his chair with muchgravity, 'to come and inspect that feature of our establishment whichyou rashly disparage.' With that, taking up a candle, he conductedhis chum into the fourth room of the set of chambers--a little narrowroom--which was very completely and neatly fitted as a kitchen. 'See!'said Eugene, 'miniature flour-barrel, rolling-pin, spice-box, shelf ofbrown jars, chopping-board, coffee-mill, dresser elegantly furnishedwith crockery, saucepans and pans, roasting jack, a charming kettle, anarmoury of dish-covers. The moral influence of these objects, in formingthe domestic virtues, may have an immense influence upon me; not uponyou, for you are a hopeless case, but upon me. In fact, I have an ideathat I feel the domestic virtues already forming. Do me the favour tostep into my bedroom. Secretaire, you see, and abstruse set of solidmahogany pigeon-holes, one for every letter of the alphabet. To what usedo I devote them? I receive a bill--say from Jones. I docket it neatlyat the secretaire, JONES, and I put it into pigeonhole J. It's the nextthing to a receipt and is quite as satisfactory to ME. And I very muchwish, Mortimer,' sitting on his bed, with the air of a philosopherlecturing a disciple, 'that my example might induce YOU to cultivatehabits of punctuality and method; and, by means of the moral influenceswith which I have surrounded you, to encourage the formation of thedomestic virtues.'

  Mortimer laughed again, with his usual commentaries of 'How CAN you beso ridiculous, Eugene!' and 'What an absurd fellow you are!' but whenhis laugh was out, there was something serious, if not anxious, in hisface. Despite that pernicious assumption of lassitude and indifference,which had become his second nature, he was strongly attached to hisfriend. He had founded himself upon Eugene when they were yet boys atschool; and at this hour imitated him no less, admired him no less,loved him no less, than in those departed days.

  'Eugene,' said he, 'if I could find you in earnest for a minute, I wouldtry to say an earnest word to you.'

  'An earnest word?' repeated Eugene. 'The moral influences are beginningto work. Say on.'

  'Well, I will,' returned the other, 'though you are not earnest yet.'

  'In this desire for earnestness,' murmured Eugene, with the air of onewho was meditating deeply, 'I trace the happy influences of the littleflour-barrel and the coffee-mill. Gratifying.'

  'Eugene,' resumed Mortimer, disregarding the light interruption, andlaying a hand upon Eugene's shoulder, as he, Mortimer, stood before himseated on his bed, 'you are withholding something from me.'

  Eugene looked at him, but said nothing.

  'All this past summer, you have been withholding something from me.Before we entered on our boating vacation, you were as bent upon it as Ihave seen you upon anything since we first rowed together. But you caredvery little for it when it came, often found it a tie and a drag uponyou, and were constantly away. Now it was well enough half-a-dozentimes, a dozen times, twenty times, to say to me in your own odd manner,which I know so well and like so much, that your disappearances wereprecautions against our boring one another; but of course after a shortwhile I began to know that they covered something. I don't ask what itis, as you have not told me; but the fact is so. Say, is it not?'

  'I give you my word of honour, Mortimer,' returned Eugene, after aserious pause of a few moments, 'that I don't know.'

  'Don't know, Eugene?'

  'Upon my soul, don't know. I know less about myself than about mostpeople in the world, and I don't know.'

  'You have some design in your mind?'

  'Have I? I don't think I have.'

  'At any rate, you have some subject of interest there which used not tobe there?'

  'I really can't say,' replied Eugene, shaking his head blankly, afterpausing again to reconsider. 'At times I have thought yes; at othertimes I have thought no. Now, I have been inclined to pursue such asubject; now I have felt that it was absurd, and that it tired andembarrassed me. Absolutely, I can't say. Frankly and faithfully, I wouldif I could.'

  So replying, he clapped a hand, in his turn, on his friend's shoulder,as he rose from his seat upon the bed, and said:

  'You must take your friend as he is. You know what I am, my dearMortimer. You know how dreadfully susceptible I am to boredom. You knowthat when I became enough of a man to find myself an embodied conundrum,I bored myself to the last degree by trying to find out what I meant.You know that at length I gave it up, and declined to guess any more.Then how can I possibly give you the answer that I have not discovered?The old nursery form runs, "Riddle-me-riddle-me-ree, p'raps you can'ttell me what this may be?" My reply runs, "No. Upon my life, I can't."'

  So much of what was fantastically true to his own knowledge of thisutterly careless Eugene, mingled with the answer, that Mortimer couldnot receive it as a mere evasion. Besides, it was given with an engagingair of openness, and of special exemption of the one friend he valued,from his reckless indifference.

  'Come, dear boy!' said Eugene. 'Let us try the effect of smoking. If itenlightens me at all on this question, I will impart unreservedly.'

  They returned to the room they had come from, and, finding it heated,opened a window. Having lighted their cigars, they leaned out of thiswindow, smoking, and looking down at the moonlight, as it shone into thecourt below.

  'No enlightenment,' resumed Eugene, after certain minutes of silence. 'Ifeel sincerely apologetic, my dear Mortimer, but nothing comes.'

  'If nothing comes,' returned Mortimer, 'nothing can come
from it. SoI shall hope that this may hold good throughout, and that there may benothing on foot. Nothing injurious to you, Eugene, or--'

  Eugene stayed him for a moment with his hand on his arm, while he took apiece of earth from an old flowerpot on the window-sill and dexterouslyshot it at a little point of light opposite; having done which to hissatisfaction, he said, 'Or?'

  'Or injurious to any one else.'

  'How,' said Eugene, taking another little piece of earth, and shootingit with great precision at the former mark, 'how injurious to any oneelse?'

  'I don't know.'

  'And,' said Eugene, taking, as he said the word, another shot, 'to whomelse?'

  'I don't know.'

  Checking himself with another piece of earth in his hand, Eugene lookedat his friend inquiringly and a little suspiciously. There was noconcealed or half-expressed meaning in his face.

  'Two belated wanderers in the mazes of the law,' said Eugene, attractedby the sound of footsteps, and glancing down as he spoke, 'stray intothe court. They examine the door-posts of number one, seeking the namethey want. Not finding it at number one, they come to number two. On thehat of wanderer number two, the shorter one, I drop this pellet. Hittinghim on the hat, I smoke serenely, and become absorbed in contemplationof the sky.'

  Both the wanderers looked up towards the window; but, afterinterchanging a mutter or two, soon applied themselves to the door-postsbelow. There they seemed to discover what they wanted, for theydisappeared from view by entering at the doorway. 'When they emerge,'said Eugene, 'you shall see me bring them both down'; and so preparedtwo pellets for the purpose.

  He had not reckoned on their seeking his name, or Lightwood's. Buteither the one or the other would seem to be in question, for now therecame a knock at the door. 'I am on duty to-night,' said Mortimer, 'stayyou where you are, Eugene.' Requiring no persuasion, he stayed there,smoking quietly, and not at all curious to know who knocked, untilMortimer spoke to him from within the room, and touched him. Then,drawing in his head, he found the visitors to be young Charley Hexamand the schoolmaster; both standing facing him, and both recognized at aglance.

  'You recollect this young fellow, Eugene?' said Mortimer.

  'Let me look at him,' returned Wrayburn, coolly. 'Oh, yes, yes. Irecollect him!'

  He had not been about to repeat that former action of taking him by thechin, but the boy had suspected him of it, and had thrown up his armwith an angry start. Laughingly, Wrayburn looked to Lightwood for anexplanation of this odd visit.

  'He says he has something to say.'

  'Surely it must be to you, Mortimer.'

  'So I thought, but he says no. He says it is to you.'

  'Yes, I do say so,' interposed the boy. 'And I mean to say what I wantto say, too, Mr Eugene Wrayburn!'

  Passing him with his eyes as if there were nothing where he stood,Eugene looked on to Bradley Headstone. With consummate indolence, heturned to Mortimer, inquiring: 'And who may this other person be?'

  'I am Charles Hexam's friend,' said Bradley; 'I am Charles Hexam'sschoolmaster.'

  'My good sir, you should teach your pupils better manners,' returnedEugene.

  Composedly smoking, he leaned an elbow on the chimneypiece, at the sideof the fire, and looked at the schoolmaster. It was a cruel look, in itscold disdain of him, as a creature of no worth. The schoolmaster lookedat him, and that, too, was a cruel look, though of the different kind,that it had a raging jealousy and fiery wrath in it.

  Very remarkably, neither Eugene Wrayburn nor Bradley Headstone looked atall at the boy. Through the ensuing dialogue, those two, no matterwho spoke, or whom was addressed, looked at each other. There was somesecret, sure perception between them, which set them against one anotherin all ways.

  'In some high respects, Mr Eugene Wrayburn,' said Bradley, answeringhim with pale and quivering lips, 'the natural feelings of my pupils arestronger than my teaching.'

  'In most respects, I dare say,' replied Eugene, enjoying his cigar,'though whether high or low is of no importance. You have my name verycorrectly. Pray what is yours?'

  'It cannot concern you much to know, but--'

  'True,' interposed Eugene, striking sharply and cutting him short at hismistake, 'it does not concern me at all to know. I can say Schoolmaster,which is a most respectable title. You are right, Schoolmaster.'

  It was not the dullest part of this goad in its galling of BradleyHeadstone, that he had made it himself in a moment of incautious anger.He tried to set his lips so as to prevent their quivering, but theyquivered fast.

  'Mr Eugene Wrayburn,' said the boy, 'I want a word with you. I havewanted it so much, that we have looked out your address in the book, andwe have been to your office, and we have come from your office here.'

  'You have given yourself much trouble, Schoolmaster,' observedEugene, blowing the feathery ash from his cigar. 'I hope it may proveremunerative.'

  'And I am glad to speak,' pursued the boy, 'in presence of Mr Lightwood,because it was through Mr Lightwood that you ever saw my sister.'

  For a mere moment, Wrayburn turned his eyes aside from the schoolmasterto note the effect of the last word on Mortimer, who, standing on theopposite side of the fire, as soon as the word was spoken, turned hisface towards the fire and looked down into it.

  'Similarly, it was through Mr Lightwood that you ever saw her again, foryou were with him on the night when my father was found, and so I foundyou with her on the next day. Since then, you have seen my sister often.You have seen my sister oftener and oftener. And I want to know why?'

  'Was this worth while, Schoolmaster?' murmured Eugene, with the air ofa disinterested adviser. 'So much trouble for nothing? You should knowbest, but I think not.'

  'I don't know, Mr Wrayburn,' answered Bradley, with his passion rising,'why you address me--'

  'Don't you? said Eugene. 'Then I won't.'

  He said it so tauntingly in his perfect placidity, that the respectableright-hand clutching the respectable hair-guard of the respectable watchcould have wound it round his throat and strangled him with it. Notanother word did Eugene deem it worth while to utter, but stood leaninghis head upon his hand, smoking, and looking imperturbably at thechafing Bradley Headstone with his clutching right-hand, until Bradleywas wellnigh mad.

  'Mr Wrayburn,' proceeded the boy, 'we not only know this that I havecharged upon you, but we know more. It has not yet come to my sister'sknowledge that we have found it out, but we have. We had a plan, MrHeadstone and I, for my sister's education, and for its being advisedand overlooked by Mr Headstone, who is a much more competent authority,whatever you may pretend to think, as you smoke, than you could produce,if you tried. Then, what do we find? What do we find, Mr Lightwood? Why,we find that my sister is already being taught, without our knowingit. We find that while my sister gives an unwilling and cold ear to ourschemes for her advantage--I, her brother, and Mr Headstone, the mostcompetent authority, as his certificates would easily prove, that couldbe produced--she is wilfully and willingly profiting by other schemes.Ay, and taking pains, too, for I know what such pains are. And so doesMr Headstone! Well! Somebody pays for this, is a thought that naturallyoccurs to us; who pays? We apply ourselves to find out, Mr Lightwood,and we find that your friend, this Mr Eugene Wrayburn, here, pays. ThenI ask him what right has he to do it, and what does he mean by it, andhow comes he to be taking such a liberty without my consent, when Iam raising myself in the scale of society by my own exertions and MrHeadstone's aid, and have no right to have any darkness cast upon myprospects, or any imputation upon my respectability, through my sister?'

  The boyish weakness of this speech, combined with its great selfishness,made it a poor one indeed. And yet Bradley Headstone, used to the littleaudience of a school, and unused to the larger ways of men, showed akind of exultation in it.

  'Now I tell Mr Eugene Wrayburn,' pursued the boy, forced into the useof the third person by the hopelessness of addressing him in the first,'that I object to his having any acqua
intance at all with my sister, andthat I request him to drop it altogether. He is not to take it into hishead that I am afraid of my sister's caring for HIM--'

  (As the boy sneered, the Master sneered, and Eugene blew off thefeathery ash again.)

  --'But I object to it, and that's enough. I am more important to mysister than he thinks. As I raise myself, I intend to raise her;she knows that, and she has to look to me for her prospects. Now Iunderstand all this very well, and so does Mr Headstone. My sister is anexcellent girl, but she has some romantic notions; not about such thingsas your Mr Eugene Wrayburns, but about the death of my father and othermatters of that sort. Mr Wrayburn encourages those notions to makehimself of importance, and so she thinks she ought to be grateful tohim, and perhaps even likes to be. Now I don't choose her to be gratefulto him, or to be grateful to anybody but me, except Mr Headstone. AndI tell Mr Wrayburn that if he don't take heed of what I say, it will beworse for her. Let him turn that over in his memory, and make sure ofit. Worse for her!'

  A pause ensued, in which the schoolmaster looked very awkward.

  'May I suggest, Schoolmaster,' said Eugene, removing his fast-waningcigar from his lips to glance at it, 'that you can now take your pupilaway.'

  'And Mr Lightwood,' added the boy, with a burning face, under theflaming aggravation of getting no sort of answer or attention, 'I hopeyou'll take notice of what I have said to your friend, and of whatyour friend has heard me say, word by word, whatever he pretends to thecontrary. You are bound to take notice of it, Mr Lightwood, for, as Ihave already mentioned, you first brought your friend into my sister'scompany, and but for you we never should have seen him. Lord knows noneof us ever wanted him, any more than any of us will ever miss him. NowMr Headstone, as Mr Eugene Wrayburn has been obliged to hear what I hadto say, and couldn't help himself, and as I have said it out to the lastword, we have done all we wanted to do, and may go.'

  'Go down-stairs, and leave me a moment, Hexam,' he returned. The boycomplying with an indignant look and as much noise as he could make,swung out of the room; and Lightwood went to the window, and leanedthere, looking out.

  'You think me of no more value than the dirt under your feet,' saidBradley to Eugene, speaking in a carefully weighed and measured tone, orhe could not have spoken at all.

  'I assure you, Schoolmaster,' replied Eugene, 'I don't think about you.'

  'That's not true,' returned the other; 'you know better.'

  'That's coarse,' Eugene retorted; 'but you DON'T know better.'

  'Mr Wrayburn, at least I know very well that it would be idle to setmyself against you in insolent words or overbearing manners. That ladwho has just gone out could put you to shame in half-a-dozen branches ofknowledge in half an hour, but you can throw him aside like an inferior.You can do as much by me, I have no doubt, beforehand.'

  'Possibly,' remarked Eugene.

  'But I am more than a lad,' said Bradley, with his clutching hand, 'andI WILL be heard, sir.'

  'As a schoolmaster,' said Eugene, 'you are always being heard. Thatought to content you.'

  'But it does not content me,' replied the other, white with passion. 'Doyou suppose that a man, in forming himself for the duties I discharge,and in watching and repressing himself daily to discharge them well,dismisses a man's nature?'

  'I suppose you,' said Eugene, 'judging from what I see as I look at you,to be rather too passionate for a good schoolmaster.' As he spoke, hetossed away the end of his cigar.

  'Passionate with you, sir, I admit I am. Passionate with you, sir, Irespect myself for being. But I have not Devils for my pupils.'

  'For your Teachers, I should rather say,' replied Eugene.

  'Mr Wrayburn.'

  'Schoolmaster.'

  'Sir, my name is Bradley Headstone.'

  'As you justly said, my good sir, your name cannot concern me. Now, whatmore?'

  'This more. Oh, what a misfortune is mine,' cried Bradley, breaking offto wipe the starting perspiration from his face as he shook from head tofoot, 'that I cannot so control myself as to appear a stronger creaturethan this, when a man who has not felt in all his life what I have feltin a day can so command himself!' He said it in a very agony, and evenfollowed it with an errant motion of his hands as if he could have tornhimself.

  Eugene Wrayburn looked on at him, as if he found him beginning to berather an entertaining study.

  'Mr Wrayburn, I desire to say something to you on my own part.'

  'Come, come, Schoolmaster,' returned Eugene, with a languid approach toimpatience as the other again struggled with himself; 'say what you haveto say. And let me remind you that the door is standing open, and youryoung friend waiting for you on the stairs.'

  'When I accompanied that youth here, sir, I did so with the purpose ofadding, as a man whom you should not be permitted to put aside, in caseyou put him aside as a boy, that his instinct is correct and right.'Thus Bradley Headstone, with great effort and difficulty.

  'Is that all?' asked Eugene.

  'No, sir,' said the other, flushed and fierce. 'I strongly support himin his disapproval of your visits to his sister, and in his objection toyour officiousness--and worse--in what you have taken upon yourself todo for her.'

  'Is THAT all?' asked Eugene.

  'No, sir. I determined to tell you that you are not justified in theseproceedings, and that they are injurious to his sister.'

  'Are you her schoolmaster as well as her brother's?--Or perhaps youwould like to be?' said Eugene.

  It was a stab that the blood followed, in its rush to BradleyHeadstone's face, as swiftly as if it had been dealt with a dagger.'What do you mean by that?' was as much as he could utter.

  'A natural ambition enough,' said Eugene, coolly. 'Far be it from meto say otherwise. The sister who is something too much upon your lips,perhaps--is so very different from all the associations to which she hadbeen used, and from all the low obscure people about her, that it is avery natural ambition.'

  'Do you throw my obscurity in my teeth, Mr Wrayburn?'

  'That can hardly be, for I know nothing concerning it, Schoolmaster, andseek to know nothing.'

  'You reproach me with my origin,' said Bradley Headstone; 'you castinsinuations at my bringing-up. But I tell you, sir, I have worked myway onward, out of both and in spite of both, and have a right to beconsidered a better man than you, with better reasons for being proud.'

  'How I can reproach you with what is not within my knowledge, or howI can cast stones that were never in my hand, is a problem for theingenuity of a schoolmaster to prove,' returned Eugene. 'Is THAT all?'

  'No, sir. If you suppose that boy--'

  'Who really will be tired of waiting,' said Eugene, politely.

  'If you suppose that boy to be friendless, Mr Wrayburn, you deceiveyourself. I am his friend, and you shall find me so.'

  'And you will find HIM on the stairs,' remarked Eugene.

  'You may have promised yourself, sir, that you could do what youchose here, because you had to deal with a mere boy, inexperienced,friendless, and unassisted. But I give you warning that this meancalculation is wrong. You have to do with a man also. You have to dowith me. I will support him, and, if need be, require reparation forhim. My hand and heart are in this cause, and are open to him.'

  'And--quite a coincidence--the door is open,' remarked Eugene.

  'I scorn your shifty evasions, and I scorn you,' said the schoolmaster.'In the meanness of your nature you revile me with the meanness of mybirth. I hold you in contempt for it. But if you don't profit by thisvisit, and act accordingly, you will find me as bitterly in earnestagainst you as I could be if I deemed you worth a second thought on myown account.'

  With a consciously bad grace and stiff manner, as Wrayburn looked soeasily and calmly on, he went out with these words, and the heavy doorclosed like a furnace-door upon his red and white heats of rage.

  'A curious monomaniac,' said Eugene. 'The man seems to believe thateverybody was acquainted with his mother!'


  Mortimer Lightwood being still at the window, to which he had indelicacy withdrawn, Eugene called to him, and he fell to slowly pacingthe room.

  'My dear fellow,' said Eugene, as he lighted another cigar, 'I fear myunexpected visitors have been troublesome. If as a set-off (excuse thelegal phrase from a barrister-at-law) you would like to ask Tippins totea, I pledge myself to make love to her.'

  'Eugene, Eugene, Eugene,' replied Mortimer, still pacing the room, 'I amsorry for this. And to think that I have been so blind!'

  'How blind, dear boy?' inquired his unmoved friend.

  'What were your words that night at the river-side public-house?' saidLightwood, stopping. 'What was it that you asked me? Did I feel like adark combination of traitor and pickpocket when I thought of that girl?'

  'I seem to remember the expression,' said Eugene.

  'How do YOU feel when you think of her just now?'

  His friend made no direct reply, but observed, after a few whiffs of hiscigar, 'Don't mistake the situation. There is no better girl in all thisLondon than Lizzie Hexam. There is no better among my people at home; nobetter among your people.'

  'Granted. What follows?'

  'There,' said Eugene, looking after him dubiously as he paced away tothe other end of the room, 'you put me again upon guessing the riddlethat I have given up.'

  'Eugene, do you design to capture and desert this girl?'

  'My dear fellow, no.'

  'Do you design to marry her?'

  'My dear fellow, no.'

  'Do you design to pursue her?'

  'My dear fellow, I don't design anything. I have no design whatever.I am incapable of designs. If I conceived a design, I should speedilyabandon it, exhausted by the operation.'

  'Oh Eugene, Eugene!'

  'My dear Mortimer, not that tone of melancholy reproach, I entreat. Whatcan I do more than tell you all I know, and acknowledge my ignoranceof all I don't know! How does that little old song go, which, underpretence of being cheerful, is by far the most lugubrious I ever heardin my life?

  "Away with melancholy, Nor doleful changes ring On life and human folly, But merrily merrily sing Fal la!"

  Don't let us sing Fal la, my dear Mortimer (which is comparativelyunmeaning), but let us sing that we give up guessing the riddlealtogether.'

  'Are you in communication with this girl, Eugene, and is what thesepeople 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 going?'

  'My dear Mortimer, one would think the schoolmaster had left behind hima catechizing infection. You are ruffled by the want of another cigar.Take one of these, I entreat. Light it at mine, which is in perfectorder. So! Now do me the justice to observe that I am doing all I cantowards self-improvement, and that you have a light thrown on thosehousehold implements which, when you only saw them as in a glass darkly,you were hastily--I must say hastily--inclined to depreciate. Sensibleof my deficiencies, I have surrounded myself with moral influencesexpressly meant to promote the formation of the domestic virtues.To those influences, and to the improving society of my friend fromboyhood, 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 youanswered 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 smokewith his hand for the better exposition of his frankness of face andmanner, 'believe me, I would answer them instantly if I could. Butto enable me to do so, I must first have found out the troublesomeconundrum long abandoned. Here it is. Eugene Wrayburn.' Tapping hisforehead and breast. 'Riddle-me, riddle-me-ree, perhaps you can't tellme what this may be?--No, upon my life I can't. I give it up!'

 
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