The dead came to her summons so promptly, even Mrs. Atabal questioned the nature of her calling. Do you suppose .. .I am a fake? she asked herself in the kitchen, bracing her weight, her considerable weight, over the sink; but no, no, I’m a true medium. It’s just the Doubting-Thomases, or, more precisely, the Doubting-Tom. She regarded Oldoctor Atabal, memorizing the evening paper again, as if the news would satisfy the questioning angels at the Gates.

“Perhaps the spirits who wander through the night,” she said, “suffer from insomnia. Or else, they’re lonely for flesh.’’

“Sleep like tops, I assure you,” Oldoctor said. He folded his paper vertically in half, as he always did, preparing to guffaw at worldly actualities. “Those dead I fetched back in my time couldn’t recall a thing,”he went on; “in fact, folks don’t even know they’ve had a brief croak. They return mad as hell and abuse the doctor for damaging the old tool box, thumping at the ticker inside. It hurts, you know, coming back.”

“You’re talking about the soma,” Mrs. Atabal said. “I’m much more conversant with the charisma.”

“Don’t let me stop you,” Oldoctor said. “Converse away.” Oldoctor thought of himself as a humourous man. Mrs. Atabal thought his humour was an excess of bile.