curious puttering studies, crackling coals
Sometimes it seemed a month and a half; sometimes gray centuries. John’s will power had been shrouded with curious puttering studies; long heavy-breathing sittings with the ouija board on his lap, midnight hours when he had fancied that tables had tapped and crackling coals had spoken. Now that the second autumn of his seclusion was creeping into winter he was conscious that he had not enough initiative to carry out his plans for going to South America.
ex Sinclair Lewis, “The Willow Walk” from The Saturday Evening Post,
in Edward J. O’Brien, ed., The Best Short Stories of 1918 and the Yearbook of the American Short Story (1918) : 154-190 (184)