Elemoont/Chapter 25

in which the Elemoont and the Cat calculate a distance to the stars and reason about the infinity.

So they flew to the bright distant star, which seemed to them as the nearest one. The Computer obediently drove the ship (precisely that part of pile, which was left from it) hearing the Cat's commands who stated himself as a captain. "I know the Universes, which Mr. Red covered with his high silk hat better than you," explained he. "But we fell out of his top hat when the Big Cosmogrunt grunted, don't it?" asked the Elemoont. "Yes, we have fallen out," confirmed the Cat, "But some Universes, which were in the high silk hat also had fallen with us. And we saw one of them."

"The Universe of Square Moons?"

"Yes, that's why I wasn't surprise when I saw a square moon. Otherwise, what kinds of moons must exist in such Universe? But when notorious Mr. Moonswitcher put it out like an electric bulb, I was surprised by that fact."

"Mr. Moonswitcher is not ‘a notorious Mr. Moonswitcher’," remarked the Elemoont, "He is the Great Magician, as told me the Elemoontopotamus."

"Well, let he is the Great Magician, but why he put the Moon out?" asked the Cat.

Here he remembered his captain's duties and cried, "Put the helm to port!"

"Don't yell, I know it myself!" answered the Computer.

"What do you think, is it the long way to our star?" asked the Elemoont, "We have flown rather a long time but it don't become bigger."

"Hear my command!" said the Cat addressing the Computer, "Calculate and report on a situation: how many kilometers is it to that star?"

"What do you give commands?" grumbled the Computer, "All right! I'll calculate."

About a minute he clicked, panted, and even breath hard and then said, "A cyllindrion kilometers."

"What, what?" asked the Elemoont who never heard about such number.

"This number is used in Mr. Red's Cylindrical Universe," explained the Cat, "They measured long distances in cyllindrions of cylindrical kilometers. The cylindrical kilometer is such a round, somewhat oblong kilometer."

"But how many customary kilometers which are not round and somewhat oblong will be in a cyllindrion kilometers?" asked the Elemoont again.

"All kilometers are oblong a little," remarked the Cat.

"And what width have they?" was interested the Elemoont.

"Hmm…I don't know. Can you compute not cylindrical but customary numbers?" asked the Cat addressing to the Computer.

"I'm sorry, what do you mean by customary numbers?" made inquiries the Computer.

"The customary numbers? They are the very customary ones: one, two, three, four, five."

"Is it all?" asked the Computer.

"What ‘is it all?’"

"One, two, three, four, five — is it all?"

"No! Then follow six, seven, eight, nine, ten."

"And is it all?"

"No! Then will go eleven and twelve."

"And now is it all?"

"Now it is all."

"What!" the Elemoont exclaimed. "And thirteen? And fourteen? And fifteen?…"

The Cat was embarrassed a little, but then said with some pride, "We, the tiger–cats, can count only to twelve!"

"But why?"

"It's because the average pack of tiger–mice contains just twelve ones."

"Well," said the Elemoont.

After a little pause the Cat asked, "And do you know numbers which are more than twelve?" "I know," said the Elemoont, "It will be strange, if I don't know such simple things!"

"And how many are they there?"

"Them? There? There are very many numbers there."

"But how many precisely?"

Here the Elemoont fell to thinking, "If you take twelve from infinity it comes out so many numbers as they exist after twelve, here you are!"

"But still how many?" interested the Cat. (Existence of such huge quantity of numbers was a great surprise for him).

"I don't know," confessed the Elemoont.

"You can't subtract twelve from an infinity?" was amazed the Cat, "If I subtract twelve from twelve tiger–mice it will be zero."

"But if you subtract twelve from infinity the result will be an infinity all the same," said the Elemoont. "I don't agree with you," cut in the Computer, "Resulting infinity must be shorter that one from which you made subtraction."

"It may be," did not become to argue the Elemoont, "But all the same it will be infinity!"

"And what numbers is such infinity measured?" was interested the Tiger–Cat thinking if he succeeded in catching as many tiger–mice as an infinity, he may subtract any amount times twelve and the amount of mice will be equal to infinity all the same.

"Don't think about it," thought the Elemoont who had caught the Cat's idea.


"You will try to catch them during infinitely long time. But we have no time."

"Well, we'll not to talk about it," said the Cat aloud. "What the biggest number do you know?"

"The biggest?"

"The biggest."

The Elemoont pondered a little and then said. "A quintillion."

"It's a very strange name for a number!" remarked the Cat. "A cyllindrion is also a strange name," answered the Elemoont. "No!" objected the Cat. "Any little cylindrical kitten understands what a cyllindrion means. But what thing is a quintillion I don't understand!"

"I don't understand also," said the Elemoont.

"What? You said you know this number and that it is the biggest one. And now you say that you don't understand it!?"

"Of course, I know that a quintillion is a very big number, I heard it from my grandfather. But what is it I don't understand!" confessed the Elemoont.

"I understand it," suddenly said the Computer. "I have gone into so called usual numbers. They really far simpler than cylindrical ones."

"Really?" said the Cat, "I always thought so. And what number is the quintillion equal?"

"The quintillion is equal to one thousand quadrillions."

"He speaks in such tone as if the quintillion may be not only one," disturbed the cat.

"Of course, it may be not only one. It may be some quintillions, about two or three," confirmed the Elemoont.

"It isn't so," said the Computer, "It may be any account of quintillions, even whole quintillion quintillions!"

"It depends on the subject you considered," objected the Cat. "If you are talking about tiger–mice, then it is wrong. So many tiger–mice are never being."

"What's that got to do with tiger–mice? I'm talking about an abstraction," said the Computer

"A quintillion quintillions abstractions! It's beyond human understanding!" muttered the cat.

"All right, we have looked into a quintillion," said the Elemoont, "And a quadrillion, how many is it?"

"Possibly they count the square moons by quadrillions," remarked the Cat.

"No! The quadrillion is an ordinary number and it equals a thousand trillions.

"Things are going from bad to worth," muttered again the Cat, "But how many is a trillion?"

"It is a thousand milliards."

"Oh! It's a familiar word!" was pleased the Elemoont, "My grandfather told me that there was a milliard lunatics on the Moon."

"Wait a little with your lunatics," stopped him the Cat. "And how many is a milliard?"

"A milliard equals one thousand millions. A million is one thousand thousands and a thousand is a thousand!" concluded the Computer.

"And how many kilometers must we fly?" asked the Elemoont. "Can you tell us now?"

"Yes, I can," answered the Computer. "You must fly a quintillion kilometers to the star which you selected. You must fly along ordinary kilometers, along its length." Here the Cat gave a whistle, although cats cannot whistle. "And if we shall fly across? Is it turns more quickly?" asked he. "It is much quickly," said the Computer.

"Then hear my command!" cried the Cat remembering that he is a captain. "Fly across!"

And they rushed across.