As we continue to talk about Spiritism, I can’t help but include this humorous story from Ozark folklorist Vance Randolph’s work Pissing in the Snow.
What Madeline Done
Told by J.E. Dunwoody, Clinton, Iowa, March 1951. He heard it in McDonald County, MO, about 1900.
One time there was a woman named Madeline that showed up missing, and nobody knowed what become of her. Somebody seen her in the Antlers Hotel, and maybe she run off with Colonel Baker, because the colonel is pretty well fixed. But when Madeline’s sister heard about it, she begun to holler that somebody must have murdered Madeline, and hid the corpse. She wanted the sheriff to arrest Colonel Baker, but the sheriff won’t do it because they haven’t got no evidence. And nobody knowed where the colonel is at, anyhow.
Madeline’s sister believed in spirits, and she says they are always a-rapping on tables. Sometimes a table will raise right up off’n the floor, even if a fellow that weighed two hundred pounds is trying to hold it down. So Madeline’s sister rented a room at the same hotel, and there was a writing table in it. She got some other people that believed in spirits, and the whole bunch set down with their hands on the table. They kept asking the spirits what has become of Madeline, but there wasn’t no answer for a long time.
Finally they could feel the table move a little. Somebody says, “Is Madeline dead?” and the table give a loud rap that means “No.” Then Madeline’s sister says, “Was she in this hotel?” and the table give two loud raps which means “Yes.” Pretty soon Madeline’s sister says, “Was she here with Colonel Baker?” The table jumped a foot high, and give two raps the loudest you ever heard. So then she says, “What did Madeline do?” The table just flopped plumb over so its legs was sticking up, and the drawers flew open!