"And I, Pemien," Ostrodumov added in his bass voice.
"How very instructive! Then tell me, Oh Fiekla! and you, Oh Pemien! why you are so unfriendly, so persistently unfriendly to me when I--"
"Mashurina thinks," Ostrodumov interrupted him, "and not only Mashurina, that you are not to be depended upon, because you always laugh at everything."
Paklin turned round on his heels.
"That is the usual mistake people make about me, my dear Pemien! In the first place, I am not always laughing, and even if I were, that is no reason why you should not trust me. In the second, I have been flattered with your confidence on more than one occasion before now, a convincing proof of my trustworthiness. I am an honest man, my dear Pemien."
Ostrodumov muttered something between his teeth, but Paklin continued without the slightest trace of a smile on his face.
"No, I am not always laughing! I am not at all a cheerful person. You have only to look at me!"
Ostrodumov looked at him. And really, when Paklin was not laughing, when he was silent, his face assumed a dejected, almost scared expression; it became funny and rather sarcastic only when he opened his lips. Ostrodumov did not say anything, however, and Paklin