The Diary of a Nobody
Charles Pooter

June 3.—The laundress called, and said she was very sorry about the handkerchiefs, and returned ninepence.  I said, as the colour was completely washed out and the handkerchiefs quite spoiled, ninepence was not enough.  Carrie replied that the two handkerchiefs originally only cost sixpence, for she remembered bring them at a sale at the Holloway Bon Marché.  In that case, I insisted that threepence buying should be returned to the laundress.  Lupin has gone to stay with the Poshs for a few days.  I must say I feel very uncomfortable about it.  Carrie said I was ridiculous to worry about it.  Mr. Posh was very fond of Lupin, who, after all, was only a mere boy.

In the evening we had another séance, which, in some respects, was very remarkable, although the first part of it was a little doubtful.  Gowing called, as well as Cummings, and begged to be allowed to join the circle.  I wanted to object, but Mrs. James, who appears a good Medium (that is, if there is anything in it at all), thought there might be a little more spirit power if Gowing joined; so the five of us sat down.

The moment I turned out the gas, and almost before I could get my hands on the table, it rocked violently and tilted, and began moving quickly across the room.  Gowing shouted out: “Way oh! steady, lad, steady!”  I told Gowing if he could not behave himself I should light the gas, and put an end to the séance.

To tell the truth, I thought Gowing was playing tricks, and I hinted as much; but Mrs. James said she had often seen the table go right off the ground.  The spirit Lina came again, and said, “WARN” three or four times, and declined to explain.  Mrs. James said “Lina” was stubborn sometimes.  She often behaved like that, and the best thing to do was to send her away.

She then hit the table sharply, and said: “Go away, Lina; you are disagreeable.  Go away!”  I should think we sat nearly three-quarters of an hour with nothing happening.  My hands felt quite cold, and I suggested we should stop the séance.  Carrie and Mrs. James, as well as Cummings, would not agree to it.  In about ten minutes’ time there was some tilting towards me.  I gave the alphabet, and it spelled out S P O O F.  As I have heard both Gowing and Lupin use the word, and as I could hear Gowing silently laughing, I directly accused him of pushing the table.  He denied it; but, I regret to say, I did not believe him.

Gowing said: “Perhaps it means ‘Spook,’ a ghost.”

I said: “You know it doesn’t mean anything of the sort.”

Gowing said: “Oh! very well—I’m sorry I ‘spook,’” and he rose from the table.

No one took any notice of the stupid joke, and Mrs. James suggested he should sit out for a while.  Gowing consented and sat in the arm-chair.

The table began to move again, and we might have had a wonderful séance but for Gowing’s stupid interruptions.  In answer to the alphabet from Carrie the table spelt “NIPUL,” then the “WARN” three times.  We could not think what it meant till Cummings pointed out that “NIPUL” was Lupin spelled backwards.  This was quite exciting.  Carrie was particularly excited, and said she hoped nothing horrible was going to happen.

Mrs. James asked if “Lina” was the spirit.  The table replied firmly, “No,” and the spirit would not give his or her name.  We then had the message, “NIPUL will be very rich.”

Carrie said she felt quite relieved, but the word “WARN” was again spelt out.  The table then began to oscillate violently, and in reply to Mrs. James, who spoke very softly to the table, the spirit began to spell its name.  It first spelled “DRINK.”

Gowing here said: “Ah! that’s more in my line.”

I asked him to be quiet as the name might not be completed.

The table then spelt “WATER.”

Gowing here interrupted again, and said: “Ah! that’s not in my line.  Outside if you like, but not inside.”

Carrie appealed to him to be quiet.

The table then spelt “CAPTAIN,” and Mrs. James startled us by crying out, “Captain Drinkwater, a very old friend of my father’s, who has been dead some years.”

This was more interesting, and I could not help thinking that after all there must be something in Spiritualism.

Mrs. James asked the spirit to interpret the meaning of the word “Warn” as applied to “NIPUL.”  The alphabet was given again, and we got the word “BOSH.”

Gowing here muttered: “So it is.”

Mrs. James said she did not think the spirit meant that, as Captain Drinkwater was a perfect gentleman, and would never have used the word in answer to a lady’s question.  Accordingly the alphabet was given again.

This time the table spelled distinctly “POSH.”  We all thought of Mrs. Murray Posh and LupinCarrie was getting a little distressed, and as it was getting late we broke up the circle.

We arranged to have one more to-morrow, as it will be Mrs. James’ last night in town.  We also determined not to have Gowing present.

Cummings, before leaving, said it was certainly interesting, but he wished the spirits would say something about him.

The Diary of a Nobody is the fictitious diary of Charles Pooter, written by George Grossmith and originally serialised in Punch magazine in 1888 and 1889.
The text of this version is taken from the Gutenberg etext, and the weblog format was engineered by Kevan Davis (initially a straight weblog in 2004, then rewritten as an auto RSS generator in April 2007).