Page:Dead Souls - A Poem by Nikolay Gogol - vol2.djvu/26

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But every one was extremely doubtful whether Tchitchikov really was Captain Kopeykin, and thought the postmaster was a little wide of the mark. However, they would not own themselves beaten either, and inspired by the postmaster's clever suggestion, made others that were almost more far-fetched. Among a number of sagacious theories there was one, strange to say, that Tchitchikov might be Napoleon in disguise, that the English had long been envious of the greatness and vast expanse of Russia—there had actually been on several occasions cartoons in which a Russian was represented talking to an Englishman, the Englishman was holding a dog on a cord behind him, and the dog of course stood for Napoleon: 'Mind,' he was saying, 'if there is anything I don't like I will let the dog off.' And now perhaps they really had let him out from the island of St. Helena, and now here he was wandering about Russia got up as Tchitchikov, though he was really not Tchitchikov at all.

Of course the officials did not fully believe this, but they grew very thoughtful, and each separately thinking the matter over, decided that Tchitchikov, if he were turned round and looked at sideways, was very much like the portraits of Napoleon. The police-master, who had served in the campaign of 1812 and had seen Napoleon in person, could not but admit that he was no taller than Tchitchikov, and that in figure Napoleon could not be said to be too stout, though on