the man who was

Baheth

Senior Member
Arabic
They showed him an Italian stamp, and pointed from him to it and back again, and made signs of question with their eyebrows. He shook his head. Then they showed him a Norwegian stamp—the common blue kind it was—and again he signed No. Then they showed him a Spanish one, and
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Railway Children ©Ichthus Academy
at that he took the envelope from Peter's hand and searched among the stamps with a hand that trembled. The hand that he reached out at last, with a gesture as of one answering a question, contained a RUSSIAN stamp.
"He's Russian," cried Peter, "or else he's like 'the man who was'—in Kipling, you know."

This is from Nesbit's The Railway Children'. I googled that but I found Chesterton's 'The Man Who Was Thursday' and it does not mention Kipling. And there is no mention of a 'The man who was' in Kipling's works! Could you please help me to know what peter means?
 
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