Spirited away

He paused, and added:
“He did all that, and unless he had nothing at stake, he had everything at stake. Either Sir Reuben Levy has been spirited away for some silly practical joke, or the man with the auburn hair has the guilt of murder upon his soul.”
“Dear me!” ejaculated the detective, “you’re very dramatic about it.”
Lord Peter passed his hand rather wearily over his hair.
“My true friend,” he murmured in a voice surcharged with emotion, “you recall me to the nursery rhymes of my youth — the sacred duty of flippancy:

There was an old man of Whitehaven
Who danced a quadrille with a raven,
But they said: It’s absurd
To encourage that bird–
So they smashed that old man of Whitehaven

 

Notes (more like questions): “sacred duty of flippancy” – how ironic is this passage? How dramatic is this passage really, when the detective calls out Lord Peter for his “voice surcharged with emotion”?

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