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.