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great favorite in “the profession,” I will try to explain it. It is called “the
drawer-box,” from its shape, which is that of a drawer, and is made of three parts. No. I consists of a box having two sides, a bottom, and one end, the other end being wanting. No. 2, which is just enough smaller than No. I to fit into it, has two sides, a bottom, and two ends; and No. 3, which is the cover of the drawer, and large enough to admit of No. I sliding into it, is composed of two sides, a top and bottom, and one end. Now if No. 2 is laid in No. I they
will look like one box, the end of No. 1, which is wanting, not being missed, because one end of No. 2 fills its place. When about to use the box fill No. 2 with bran, place it inside No. 1, and put both in No. 3. Now if you pull out No. I only (No. 2 being held inside No. 3 by a pin which runs through the bottom of No. 3 into the end of No. 2), the box will appear to be empty. Push back No. 1 in its place, withdraw the pin from the bottom of No. 3, pull out Nos. 1 and 2 together, and the box is full. Although this description may not appear very clear, yet I think any joiner could make a good working-box by following these directions; the annexed drawings, however, may tend to make it plainer.
I have described how this trick is done merely to satisfy the curiosity of some of my readers; but as I am averse to their spending money for apparatus which would be useless except just for the purpose it was made to serve, I will now explain a simple and inexpensive method of performing almost the same trick, in a manner better suited for private exhibitions than the preceding, and which is equally brilliant.
Take an ordinary goblet, and then with some thin pasteboard — brown bonnet-board is best — make a lining for the glass; that is, cut the pasteboard to such a shape and size that it will just go completely round the inside of the goblet, and then sew the edges together. There is now a cylinder formed ; at the top of this cylinder sew a cover or top; next cover the outside and top of this with paste, and before it dries sprinkle bran all over it. Now cut two pieces of cloth each in the shape of an isosceles triangle ; sew them together at the edges, leaving the smallest side of the triangles open, thus forming a bag ; along the edges that are open sew two pieces of steel spring, or a couple of pieces of thin whalebone. If now you place in the bag as much bran as will go in the goblet, and hold it mouth down, the bran will not fall out, because the whalebones prevent the bag opening; but if you press on each end of the two whalebones, the bag will open and the bran run out.
To perform the trick then, put in your bag just enough bran to fill the goblet, and fasten it (the bag) inside the breast of your coat, by means of a pin, bent so as to form a hook. The audience having examined your goblet and satisfied themselves that it is without preparation, you proceed to fill it from
a large box holding bran, and in which is concealed the lining. Proceed in every way as described in the trick with the large goblet.
After having slipped the lining in, cover the goblet with a large silk handkerchief, and give it to some one to hold. Now borrow a second handkerchief, and show it to be empty; hold it in front of your breast whilst you are showing it, and then passing one hand between it and your person, take out the bran-bag from under your coat and put it inside the handkerchief. Now approach the person who holds the glass, bid the bran “Begone!” raise the handkerchief, and with it the lining of the glass, and there is the empty goblet; pick up the handkerchief in which the bran-bag is, and, holding it over the goblet, open the mouth of the bag by pressing the end of the springs, and the bran running out will appear to come from what your audience suppose is an empty handkerchief.
The lining of the goblet may more easily be lifted out if you have a thread attached to each side of the lining, and made long enough to hang over the sides of the goblet ; when you take hold of the handkerchief to pull it off, you seize these threads, and so lift out the lining.
There is a very old trick, which used formerly to appear on programmes as “The Fairy-Necklace,” that has lately come out in a new shape, and probably but few of those who saw it under its old form recognize it in
The Great Chinese Rope-Feat.
The first I heard of this trick in its present form was at a show-shop in the rather disreputable precincts of Chatham Street, New York; since then, however, an air of respectability has been added to it by its exhibition in Broadway.
Two ropes, each about three yards in length, are given to the audience to examine; and having been found perfect, the performer passes them through the sleeves of a coat, in such a way as to suspend it; to make it still more secure, a knot is tied in the ropes, the ends of which are then given to two persons to hold. The performer then places his hand inside the coat, and, requesting those who are holding the ends of the rope to pull, the coat is left in his hands, having in the most mysterious manner worked off the ropes.
The whole secret of this trick rests in the arrangement of the ropes, which are of themselves perfect. After they have been examined, the performer proceeds to measure them; and, while working over them, doubles each rope in two, – that is, he brings the two ends of each together; he then slips a small rubber band over the centre of one, and then places the middle of the other alongside it and under the elastic, in this way tying the two together, as shown in this illustration.
He now passes the ends marked A, which are the two ends of the same rope, through one sleeve of the coat, and the ends B through the other ; these
ends he gives to two persons to hold. If now he takes off the elastic band, and the holders of the ropes pull, of course the coat falls off. The only difficulty about the matter in this arrangement is, that each person would have the two ends of one rope, instead of having an end of each in his hands; to remedy this, the performer, under pretence of making the trick more difficult, takes an end from each of them, before pulling off the coat, and, tying a simple single
bow in it, thus returns to them different ends. To make it still clearer, I append another illustration, showing the position of the ropes with the coat on.
The Spirit Jews-harp. Some few years ago one of the “Spiritual” brethren exhibited in New York a violin, which played of itself, untouched by human hands, when placed in a box out of sight of, and at a little distance from, the audience. It seems rather strange that the “spirits ” invariably keep out of sight, and that all the so-called “manifestations” require either a dark room, a closet, or a veil of some kind. The violin of course was played by “spirit hands,” — at least so the exhibitor claimed. Unfortunately, however, for the "medium,” his place was visited one night by a party of “roughs," – a class peculiar to New York, I believe, - and they, being rather sceptical on some questions, -“spiritual manifestations” amongst others, — determined to investigate the subject. The result of this was, that they succeeded in discovering the “spirit” in the person of a German violinist, who, being stationed in a room directly beneath that in which the exhibition took place, furnished by means of a second violin the music which seemed to come from the instrument in the box.
The following little trick, although similar in effect to the above, depends neither upon the “spirits " nor any other confederacy for its accomplishment, but is purely a sleight-of – hand, I was about to say ; but as it is not strictly that, I will proceed to explain it, without further digression, and my readers will then see for themselves what it is.
A jews-harp is placed at the mouth, and played for a while by the finger in the ordinary way. Gradually, however, the performer moves his finger away, and, beating time with it, the instrument, strange to say, continues to play in the most marvellous manner. To preclude all possibility of there being a
thread in any way connecting the finger and the tongue of the harp, the audience are requested to notice that the performer can pass his “magic wand” about in every direction.
In order to perform this trick, get a jews-harp with a very flexible tongue, and cover the tip of it with a bit of sealing-wax. When you wish to play upon the instrument, place it so that the tongue of it is inside your mouth. Now, if you place the tip of your tongue against the tip of the tongue of the harp, and, pushing both out together, suddenly pull your tongue back, you will find that the jews-harp will twang in the same way as if you had pulled it out with your finger. By a little practice, you will soon be able to “play tunes” as readily in this way as in the old-fashioned method.
Of course, when you begin to show the trick, you put the forefinger of the right hand to the mouth, and move it as if playing in the usual way, and by this little ruse you persuade the audience that the tongue of the instrument is outside the mouth.
To Blow Flames from the Mouth.
There is no telling the advantage one possesses who understands this trick; it is far superior, for parties camping out, to the old-fashioned method of producing fire by rubbing two sticks together; for although I have often read and heard of this, I never yet saw it done, although I have often seen it tried. By the method I am about to describe, however, all that is necessary is to fill the mouth with raw cotton, and then, taking a fan in the hand, proceed to blow up the fire. If you have gone to work properly, your efforts will soon be rewarded by a stream of smoke, which will be seen curling from your mouth, —
“Blue cloudlets circling to the dome,
Imprisoned skies escaping to their home.” This will be soon followed by sharp, bright sparks, succeeded at last by a bright flame. Many suppose this to be an optical illusion, but it is nothing of the sort; it is a genuine live flame, and is produced in this way.
Get from some German chemist a piece of Amadou, or German tinder. This is a brown, velvety-looking substance, and you may purchase enough for a dime to last a lifetime. Tear off a small piece of this — say about as large as your thumb-nail — and light one edge of it ; wrap this piece in some loose cotton, and lay it along with more cotton in your hand. You are now ready to perform the trick. When you come before the audience take the cotton which conceals the lighted tinder, and place it in your mouth, — there is no danger of its burning you, — then put some more loose cotton on top of it, and begin to breathe outward. This will light up the tinder, and the smoke will come; continue to breathe outward, or rather blow, and the sparks will next appear, and soon the flame. There will be a slight sensation of warmth now felt, but if you immediately put more cotton in your mouth it will subdue the flame. So you keep on blowing, and putting in fresh cotton, taking advantage at times, when your hand is at your mouth, of the opportunity for letting some of the half-chewed burnt cotton slip out. To finish the trick, get some narrow ribbon of different colors, about ten or twelve yards in all, and roll it up closely, so as to make a wad that will go in the mouth easily; wrap this in some cotton, which you keep under your thumb, taking care that you do not get it mixed with the rest. When you have blown out enough smoke and flame, pick up the cotton which covers the ribbons, and, clapping it in your mouth, drop that which is already there into your hand; give it a good hard blow, so as to disengage the end of the ribbon, which you then take hold of with your fingers, and proceed to draw forth yard upon yard of ribbon, to the amazement of the spectators.