The Arch-preposterous

“The following is what happened:

“Gornahoor Harharkh, with all those unusual heavy appliances which had been put on him as well, suddenly found himself at a certain height above the chair and began to flounder, as our dear Mullah Nassr Eddin says, ‘like-a-puppy-who-has-fallen-into-a-deep-pond.’

“As it afterwards proved, my friend Gornahoor Harharkh had made a mistake while pulling the mentioned levers and switches and had made certain parts of his planetary body more tense than was necessary. In consequence, his presence together with everything on him had received a shock and also the momentum given by the shock, and, owing to the ‘tempo’ proceeding in his presence from taking in the ‘second-being-food’ and to the absence of any resistance in that absolutely empty space, he began to drift, or, as I have already said, to flounder like a ‘puppy-who-has-fallen-into-a-deep-pond.’ ”

Having said this with a smile, Beelzebub became silent; a little later he made a very strange gesture with his left hand, and with an intonation not proper to his own voice, he continued:

“While I am gradually recalling and telling you about all this concerning the events of a period of my existence now long since past, the wish arises in me to make a sincere confession to you—just to you, one of my direct heirs who must inevitably represent the sum of all my deeds during the periods of the process of my past being-existence—and namely, I wish sincerely to confess to you that when my essence, with the participation of the parts of my presence, subject to it alone, had independently decided to take a personal part in those scientific elucidatory experiments with the demonstrating part of the new invention of Gornahoor Harharkh, and I had entered into this demonstrating part without the least compulsion from outside, yet, in spite of it all, my essence allowed to creep into my being and to be developed, side by side with the said strange experiencings, a criminally egoistic anxiety for the safety of my personal existence.