differences of opinion that crop up at every meeting, an inexplicable indecisiveness was apparent in the views of all present; one said that Tchitchikov was a forger of government notes, and then added, 'Though perhaps he isn't a forger'; another declared that he was an official in the governor-general's office, and at once went on, 'Though the devil only knows, it is not branded on his forehead.' All were opposed to the suggestion that he was a brigand in disguise. They considered that besides his appearance, which was highly respectable, there was nothing in his conversation to suggest a man given to deeds of violence. All at once the postmaster, who had been standing for some minutes lost in meditation, cried out suddenly from some inspiration or from something else: 'Do you know who he is, my friends?' There was something so striking in the voice in which he uttered this, that it made them all cry out with one voice: 'Who?' 'He is no other than Captain Kopeykin, gentlemen!' And when they all instantly asked with one voice, 'Who is Captain Kopeykin?' the postmaster said: 'Why, don't you know who Captain Kopeykin is?'
They all answered that they did not know who Captain Kopeykin was.
'Captain Kopeykin,' said the postmaster, opening his snuff-box only a little way for fear that some of his neighbours should take a pinch with fingers in whose cleanliness he had no confidence—he was, indeed, in the habit of saying,