My Mahatma Messages

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My Mahatma Messages  (1897) 
by William Wallace Cook

Extracted from Puck magazine, 1897 December.


SOMEWHERE IN the desert of Gobi lives a very exclusive gentleman named Koot Sombali who does nothing from dawn till dewy eve but meditate and project messages. No matter how many thousands of miles a Koot-Sombali-message is to travel, nor through how many thicknesses of wood, brick, stone or mortar it is required to pass, it makes the trip, and does it before you can say “Jack Robinson.”

Being a member of a theosophical society, in tolerable standing, I began to yearn for a mahatma message. I got one, at last. It was a piece of paper, folded up, and projected into the hash one morning at breakfast. I remember how proud I was when I recognized the concave impression in green wax that followed the name. Koot’s own seal! The message ran thus:

“Smithers—Keep Sallie.


Now, Sallie was our hired girl, and we were on the point of discharging her, because she was becoming literary at the expense of her household duties. But the desert of Gobi had been heard from, and Sallie was safe.

The second message came a week later and read like this:

“Smithers—Raise Sallie’s wages.


This message dropped out of a feather duster when I picked it up to dust off some books. It had made wonderful time, as the ink on it was still damp and the wax sticky. I followed the mandate.

The next message to travel the Gobi-Hoboken route dropped out of my hat as I took it from the rack.

“Smithers—Give Sallie a day off, but let her pay go on.


No messages came while Sallie was away, although they were confidently expected. Thinking that Koot might have wandered away from his end of this electro-X-ray-pneumatic-tube, I determined to stir him up and wrote the following:

Dear Koot—Ring off on Sallie and give us some tips about “Nirvana.’


This I placed under a Blavatsky vase on the mantel when I left for the office. When I returned home I lifted the vase and—Eureka! there was an answer on the back of my original note.

Smithers—Does she work for Spencer?


I was puzzled. Koot was supposed to be well up on the “Nirvana” question, having studied it, more or less, for a thousand years; but here he was mixing “Nirvana” up with Bridget McNally, who worked for Judge Spencer, across the way.

After that, I concluded to let Koot do the talking; and he went at it at the rate of about three mahatma messages per diem—all about Sallie. One would have supposed our hired girl especially favored of the gods.

“Give Sallie a new dress;” “Raise Sallie’s pay;” “Let Sallie have use of the piano;” “Allow Sallie to receive company in the parlor,” etc.

Of course, Koot was too austere a gentleman, and too many miles away, to be suspected of trifling with our Sallie; but I must confess I began to get infernally tired of these Sallie-Mahatma messages, and I distinctly remember placing a few words under the Blavatsky vase, requesting Koot to let up and go further into the jungle.

When I got home one night, my wife met me with the potato-masher—not with malice aforethought, for our domestic relations were harmonious to a degree, but she had made a far-reaching discovery. The knob on the handle of the potato-masher was covered with green wax!

I breathed hard. I love a joke as well as any man, but when a scheming kitchen mechanic makes a poor, innocent Hindoo, ’way off in the desert of Gobi, and a bald-headed theosophist, right there in Hoboken, her victims, it sets my blood to boiling.

I watched Sallie after that, and I caught her, one night, jabbing the potato-masher into a button of wax, sealing a request on Smithers to raise her pay for the thirtieth time. We had a few words and parted, and Sallie is now writing mahatma messages for some one else.

Our theosophical society—composed of men entirely—religiously framed all my messages as fast as received, and whenever a brother got a little weak in the esoteric dogma, he was confronted with this overpowering testimony. A revelation was in order; and when I made my astounding statement before the society, our venerable president took the potato-masher, which I had produced in evidence, and demolished the frame and the messages.

That same evening it was unanimously decided to change the object of our organization. Some wanted to make a suicide club out of it, and others leaned towards a Ralston club, but the suiciders carried their point, and we have since found that there is more enjoyment and longevity and horse-sense to the square-inch in a suicide club than there is to the square-mile in any of these theosophical affairs.

William Wallace Cook

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1927.

The author died in 1933, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.