The Diary of a Nobody
Charles Pooter

June 4.—Quite looking forward to the séance this evening.  Was thinking of it all the day at the office.

Just as we sat down at the table we were annoyed by Gowing entering without knocking.

He said: “I am not going to stop, but I have brought with me a sealed envelope, which I know I can trust with Mrs. Pooter.  In that sealed envelope is a strip of paper on which I have asked a simple question.  If the spirits can answer that question, I will believe in Spiritualism.”

I ventured the expression that it might be impossible.

Mrs. James said: “Oh no! it is of common occurrence for the spirits to answer questions under such conditions—and even for them to write on locked slates.  It is quite worth trying.  If ‘Lina’ is in a good temper, she is certain to do it.”

Gowing said: “All right; then I shall be a firm believer.  I shall perhaps drop in about half-past nine or ten, and hear the result.”

He then left and we sat a long time.  Cummings wanted to know something about some undertaking in which he was concerned, but he could get no answer of any description whatever—at which he said he was very disappointed and was afraid there was not much in table-turning after all.  I thought this rather selfish of him.  The séance was very similar to the one last night, almost the same in fact.  So we turned to the letter.  “Lina” took a long time answering the question, but eventually spelt out “ROSES, LILIES, AND COWS.”  There was great rocking of the table at this time, and Mrs. James said: “If that is Captain Drinkwater, let us ask him the answer as well?”

It was the spirit of the Captain, and, most singular, he gave the same identical answer: “ROSES, LILIES, AND COWS.”

I cannot describe the agitation with which Carrie broke the seal, or the disappointment we felt on reading the question, to which the answer was so inappropriate.  The question was, “What’s old Pooter’s age?”

This quite decided me.

As I had put my foot down on Spiritualism years ago, so I would again.

I am pretty easy-going as a rule, but I can be extremely firm when driven to it.

I said slowly, as I turned up the gas: “This is the last of this nonsense that shall ever take place under my roof.  I regret I permitted myself to be a party to such tomfoolery.  If there is anything in it—which I doubt—it is nothing of any good, and I won’t have it again.  That is enough.”

Mrs. James said: “I think, Mr. Pooter, you are rather over-stepping—”

I said: “Hush, madam.  I am master of this house—please understand that.”

Mrs. James made an observation which I sincerely hope I was mistaken in.  I was in such a rage I could not quite catch what she said.  But if I thought she said what it sounded like, she should never enter the house again.


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).