In "The Man with Two Beards" by G. K. Chesterton, the author was describing a situation where John & Devine were going to Carver with John's new car:

"I say," burst in the irrepressible John, before Devine could offer any polite greeting, "I’ve brought her round to give you a little run. You see if she isn’t better than a ‘Thunderbolt.’"

Mr Carver’s mouth set into a smile that may have been meant to be gracious, but looked rather grim. "I’m afraid I shall be too busy for pleasure this evening," he said.

"How doth the little busy bee," observed Devine, equally enigmatically. "Your bees must be very busy if they keep you at it all night. I was wondering if——"

"Well," demanded Carver, with a certain cool defiance.

"Well, they say we should make hay while the sun shines," said Devine. "Perhaps you make honey while the moon shines."

Does "demand" here mean "interrupt"? If not, what does it mean in this context, as he just said "Well"? and does "equally enigmatically" mean "also grim"? As I found that "enigmatic" means "obscure"?

2 Answers 2


"Equally enigmatically" means as mysteriously. The previous statement of Mr. Carver, "I'm afraid I shall be too busy for pleasure this evening." is an enigmatic statement. Its import is a mystery.

Devine then says "How doth the little busy bee" ("How does the little busy bee do?"), and that is as mysterious as what Carver said. He is probably talking about bees because in English, bees are famous examples of being busy.

Then Devine ends his statement with an incomplete sentence "Ï was wondering if__", followed by a pause. The pause makes Devine "demand" to hear what Carver was wondering. "Demand" means ask with insistence. So, it doesn't mean "interrupt", because Devine has already paused.

  • Now it's much clearer. Many thanks Commented May 23, 2020 at 0:17

The 'Well' should be written "Well?" i.e.with a question mark.

You see Devine trailed off with a "I was wondering...."

Carver could have equally replied "You were wondering what exactly?".

If Carver really did state "Well" it could be a derisory, sarcastic comment to dismiss the unfinished Devine question.

Demand does not mean interupt in this context as Devine had stopped talking. I believe Carver is demanding Devine finish his question i.e. 'wondering what?'


Enigmatically meant it was a puzzle as to what Devine was saying, his meaning was not immediately clear. In this sense you are right his meaning was obscured or hidden and only became apparent after clarification was sought.

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