“WAIT! Wait!” Beelzebub interrupted the captain. “This – what you have just told us – must surely be just that short-lived idea which the strange three-brained beings breeding on the planet Earth called ‘perpetual motion’ and on account of which at one period a great many of them there went quite, as they themselves say, ‘mad,’ and many even perished entirely.
“It once happened there on that ill-fated planet that somebody in some way or another got into his head the, as they say, ‘crazy notion’ that he could make a ‘mechanism’ that would run forever without requiring any material from outside.
“This notion so took everybody’s fancy that most of the queer fellows of that peculiar planet began thinking about it and trying to realize this miracle in practice.
“How many of them paid for this short-lived idea with all the material and spiritual welfare which they had previously with great difficulty acquired!
“For one reason or another they were all quite determined to invent what in their opinion was a ‘simple matter.’
“External circumstances permitting, many took up the invention of this ‘perpetual motion’ without any inner data for such work; some from reliance upon their ‘knowledge,’ others upon ‘luck,’ but most of them just from their already complete psychopathy.
“In short, the invention of ‘perpetual motion’ was, as they say, ‘the rage,’ and every crank felt obliged to be interested in this question.
“I was once in one of the towns there where models of every kind and innumerable ‘descriptions’ of proposed ‘mechanisms’ for this ‘perpetual motion’ were assembled.
[6. Perpetual motion, p. 74]
“What wasn’t there? What ‘ingenious’ and complicated machines did I not see? In any single one of these mechanisms I saw there, there must have been more ideas and ‘wiseacrings’ than in all the laws of World-creation and World-existence.
“I noted at the time that in these innumerable models and descriptions of proposed mechanisms, the idea of using what is called the ‘force of weight’ predominated. And the idea of employing the ‘force of weight’ they explained thus: a very complicated mechanism was to lift ‘some’ weight and this latter was then to fall and by its fall set the whole mechanism in motion, which motion would again lift the weight, and so on, and so on.
“The result of it all was, that thousands were shut up in ‘lunatic asylums,’ thousands more, having made this idea their dream, either began to fail altogether to fulfill even those being-duties of theirs which had somehow or other in the course of many years been established there, or to fulfill them in such a way as ‘couldn’t be worse.’
“I don’t know how it would all have ended if some quite demented being there, with one foot already in the grave, such a one as they themselves call an ‘old dotard,’ and who had previously somehow acquired a certain authority, had not proved by ‘calculations’ known only to himself that it was absolutely impossible to invent ‘perpetual motion.’
“Now, after your explanation, I can well understand how the cylinder of the system of Archangel Hariton works. It is the very thing of which these unfortunates there dreamed.
“Indeed, of the ‘cylinder’ of the system of the Archangel Hariton it can safely be said that, with atmosphere alone given, it will work perpetually without needing the expenditure of any outside materials.
“And since the world without planets and hence without atmospheres cannot exist, then it follows that as long as the world exists and, in consequence, atmospheres, the cylinder-barrels invented by the great Archangel Hariton will always work.
[6. Perpetual motion, p. 75]
“Now just one question occurs to me – about the material from which this cylinder-barrel is made.
“I wish very much, my dear Captain, that you would roughly tell me what materials it is made of and how long they can last,” requested Beelzebub.
To this question of Beelzebub’s the captain replied as follows:
“Although the cylinder-barrel does not last forever, it can certainly last a very long time.
“Its chief part is made of ‘amber’ with ‘platinum’ hoops, and the interior panels of the walls are made of ‘anthracite,’ ‘copper,’ and ‘ivory,’ and a very strong ‘mastic’ unaffectable either by (1) ‘paischakir’ or by (2) ‘tainolair’ or by (3) ‘saliakooriapa’ or even by the radiations of cosmic concentrations.
“But the other parts,” the captain continued, “both the exterior ‘levers’ and the ‘cogwheels,’ must certainly be renewed from time to time, for though they are made of the strongest metal, yet long use will wear them out.
“And as for the body of the ship itself, its long existence can certainly not be guaranteed.”
The captain intended to say still more, but at that moment a sound like the vibrations of a long minor chord of a far-off orchestra of wind instruments resounded through he ship.
With an apology the captain rose to leave, explaining as he did so that he must be needed on very important business, since everybody knew that he was with his Right Reverence and would not venture to trouble the ears of his Right Reverence for anything trifling.