If there were a mountain a thousand miles high and every thousand years a bird flew over it, just brushing the peak with the tip of its wing, in the course of inconceivable eons the mountain would be worn away. Yet all those ages would not be one second to the length of eternity.
'Do you suppose,' I asked suddenly, 'that anyone exists twice on the same earth? Reincarnation in the sense of the Hindus?'
He laughed scornfully. 'The age of the earth is somewhere between a thousand million and three thousand million years. What proportion of eternity is that?'
'Why--no proportion at all. Zero.'
'Exactly. And zero represents the chance of the same atoms combining to form the same person twice in one cycle of a planet. But I have shown that trillions, or trillions of trillions of years ago, there must have been another earth, another Jack Anders, and'--his voice took on that whining note--'another crash that ruined Jack Anders and old de Neant. That is the time you must remember out of lethargy.'
'Catalepsy!' I said. 'What would one remember in that?'
'What a mad scheme!' I said suddenly. 'What a crazy pair of fools we are!' The adjectives were a mistake.
'Mad? Crazy?' His voice became a screech. 'Old de Neant is mad, eh?