As the Spirit Moves VI: Mrs. Couch & Mrs. Thill

She has a way of asking you how you feel that would make you swear you could smell lilies.


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Originally published in the Post on May 22, 1920.

Mrs. Crouch, too, has been having some pleasant chats with the spirits. And it is only natural that they should treat her as practically one of the family, for she has been doing propaganda work for the Other Side for years. I often think that one of the big undertaking corporations is overlook­ing a great little advance agent in Mrs. Crouch. She has a way of asking you how you feel that would make you swear you could smell lilies.

Mrs. Crouch frequently states that she takes but little interest in the things of this world, and she dresses the part. There is a quaint style about her, which lends to every­thing that she wears an air of its having been bequeathed to her by some dear one who went over round 1889.

There is a certain snap to her conversa­tion, too, for which she is noted among our set. Perhaps her favorite line is the one about in the midst of life, which she has been getting off for so long that she has come to take an author’s pride in it. You never saw anyone so clever as Mrs. Crouch is at tracing resemblances to close friends of hers who passed on at what she calls, in round numbers, an early age; you would be surprised at the number of persons with whom she comes in contact who have just that same look round the eyes. In fact, you might call Mrs. Crouch the original Polyanna, and not be much out of the way.

So the board-board operations have been right along in her line. Scarcely a day passes, she tells me, that she does not re­ceive a message from at least one of her large circle of spirit friends, saying that everything is fine, and how is she getting on, herself? It has really been just like Old Home Week for Mrs. Crouch ever since she got her Ouija board.

Miss Thill is another of our girls who has made good with the spirits. Spiritualism is no novelty to her; she has been a fol­lower of it, as she says, almost all her life, and by now she has fairly well caught up with it. In her case, also, it is no surprise to find her so talented with the Ouija board. She has always been of a markedly mediumistic turn of mind—there are even strong indications of clairvoyant powers. Time and time again Miss Thill has had the experience of walking along the street thinking of some friend of hers, and whom will she meet, not two hours afterward, but that very same friend! As she says, you cannot explain such things away by calling them mere coincidence. Sometimes it really almost frightens Miss Thill to think about it.

You would know that Miss Thill was of a spiritualistic trend only to look at her. She has a way of suddenly becoming ob­livious of all that is going on about her and of looking far off into space, with an intent expression, as of one seeking, seeking. Materialists, at their first sight of her in this condition, are apt to think that she is trying to remember whether she really did turn off the hot water before leaving home. Her very attire is suggestive of the occult influence. What she saves on corsets she lavishes on necklaces of synthetic jade, carved with mystic signs, which I’ll wager have no good meaning behind them if the truth were known.

As the Spirit Moves
by Dorothy Parker
Originally published in the Post on May 22, 1920.

Part I: The New, Prohibition-Era Pastime
Part II: The Age of the Ouija Boards
Part III: When the Bridge Hounds Were Unleashed
Part IV: Henry G. Takes to Verse
Part V: Aunt Bertha’s Snappy Work
Part VI: Mrs. Couch & Mrs. Thill
Part VII: Too Much Is Enough

Miss Thill is a pretty logical candidate for the head of the local branch of the Ouija Board Workers of the World. She has an appreciable edge on the other con­testants in that she once attended a lecture given by Sir Oliver Lodge himself. Un­fortunately she chose rather an off day; Sir Oliver was setting them right as to the family life of the atom, and it went right on over Miss Thill’s head; she couldn’t even jump for it. There were none of those little homey touches about Sir Oliver’s intimacies with the spirits, which Miss Thill had been so eager to hear, and I be­lieve that there was quite a little bitterness on her part about it. She has never felt really the same toward Sir Oliver since. So far as she is concerned he can turn right round and go back to England-back to his old haunts, as you might put it.

By means of her Ouija board Miss Thill, as might have been expected, has worked her way right into the highest intellectual circles of spirit society. As if recognizing an equal some of the greatest celebrities of the Great Beyond have taken her up. It seems that it is no uncommon occurrence for her to talk to such people as Tennyson and Sir Walter Scott on the Ouija board; she has come to think scarcely anything of it. I hear that she has been receiving several messages from Shakespeare only lately. His spirit is not what a person could call really chatty, as I understand it; he doesn’t seem to be one to do much talk ing about himself. Miss Thill has to help him out a good deal. She asks him one of her typically intellectual questions, such as what he thinks of the modern drama, and all he has to do to answer her is to guide the planchette to either “Yes” or “No”; or, at most, both. Still, his spirit is almost an entire stranger to her, when you stop to think of it, so you really cannot expect anything of a more inside nature just yet, anyway.

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