I, as usual, listened attentively and every opinion that was expressed deeply interested me. Although I had already read a great deal of ‘anything and everything’, this was the first time I heard about these matters.

This discussion about spiritualism made a particularly strong impression on me because of the recent death of my favourite sister and my grief over it, from which I had not yet recovered. In those days I often thought about her and involuntarily questions arose in my mind about death and life beyond the grave. What was said that evening seemed to be in response to the thoughts and questions which had unconsciously arisen in me and were demanding a solution.

As a result of their discussion they decided to make an experiment with a table. For this a table with three legs was necessary, and there was one in the corner of the room; but the specialist in these experiments, the army engineer, would not use it because there were nails in it. He explained that the table had to be without iron, and so they sent me to a neighbouring photographer to ask whether he had such a table. Finding that he had one, I brought it back with me.

It was evening. Having closed the doors and turned down the light, we all sat down round the table and, placing our hands on it in a certain way, began to wait.

Sure enough, in about twenty minutes our table did begin to move, and when the engineer asked it the age of each one present it tapped out the numbers with one leg. How and why it was tapping was incomprehensible to me; I did not even try to explain anything to myself, so strong was the impression of the vast, unknown fields opening up before me.

What I had heard and seen agitated me so profoundly that when I went home I thought about these questions all that night and the next morning, and even decided to ask Father Borsh about them during my lessons. This I did, and told him about the conversation and experiment of the previous evening.

‘All that is nonsense,’ replied my first tutor. ‘Don’t think and bother about such things, but learn what is necessary for you to know for leading a tolerable existence.’