"Mr. Tilly's Séance"
by E.F. Benson
Mr. Tilly decides that a little thing like his sudden, unforeseen death won't keep him from keeping his appointment to attend a séance.
This is one of Benson's more comic tales of the supernatural-- nothing particularly spooky about this story, though the very beginning is rather gruesome. Benson pokes light fun at some of the more ridiculous aspects of spiritualism and mediums, though he also seems to be making excuses for it-- offering explanations for its frauds and dearth of concrete evidence. Not a favorite of mine, but more enjoyable than the previous story in the collection ("In the Tube").
--While I have no serious problem with séances in fiction (especially when played for laughs), spiritualism in general makes me uncomfortable-- especially when it is dressed up as something respectable or remotely honest. It cheapens true spirituality and religion by pretending to be associated with them, and under the guise of helping the suffering and the seeking, instead leads them astray. At best, it wastes their time and energies by encouraging a focus on the wrong things. At worst, it's an outright scam.
--I had to laugh at the book disguised behind "an old cover called 'Elegant Extracts'", because it reminded me of another faux "Elegant Extracts" in Miss Mapp's garden room.