Mataura Ensign, Rōrahi 11, Putanga 791, 20 Hōngongoi 1888, Page 2
Conjurors despite, the " quickness of hand " they usually get credit for, make BdaYfe , f r a#k'waii , d?ian"d ih'ost amusing; blunders. But they bave this in their; faVMP,' tliat the' r audierice irDblf ot the misha^^hjuj; .has occurred* • .- -•< All is well known, a great many of the articles to- *W pei formed with are borrowed from tho audience, such as watches, bank-no.cc, r'ngs, handker-' •chiefs;- e+c. , and the owners of these articles should not be surprised if they receive tbepa .hack; in a damaged iCblditiofaV* when the treattnent they are Bubjectjd t^o.ifita'ken into, cp^tudctf Ation. Thley are supposed to be' smashed, ■biirnedj or income mabrier destroyed, and then: mysteriously put to rights; again; and although sensible people!; know full well that, the genuine article has pot. really been destroyed, but that ia^uoetitution has been adroitly effected, .still the process of substitution is often, attended with great risk to the articles, operated upon — such as'dropping them' ( quickly into 'the performer's pocket, or' .into, traps, or slipping them into an . assistant's hand. . conjuror performing rpcently in *th<3 soiitb. of Scotland asked for the loan of a wstch., A (gentleman lent him a valuable jgold chronometer. A wonderful trick w^s performed with it, and the audience accorded the performer a hearty round of applause ; but when the gentleman got bis watch back, a note was slipped into his band intimating,, that his watch had been damaged, but he. would becompensa'ed for it at the close of the entertainment. TJfS walic&was indeed damaged — it'^as irretrievably ruined, but the performer paid ',the />wner its fulL price., Some performers have been mcst unfortunate iS this way.' "We know one who had to Pay the Full Price of Damaged Watches three times in as many years, and each time owing to the gross carelessness of his assistant. A fewyears ago a young conjuror, who ; ha,B since acquired some celebrity, gave his first public entertainment, and was assisted behind the scenes by some ifcind friends* The loa'u of a bank-note was' requested, and one for £20 was handed to the performer. This he successfully substituted for a sham note, passing the genuine one, by means of a trap in his stable, to his assistants ' behind. He then proceeded to burn the duplicate at the flame of a candle, all the while enjoying the discomfiture of the lender, who apparently fully believed .that his £20 note was being destroyed, and who was heard to remark, "If I had known he was going to do tbat with it he shouldn't have got it",' -But the performer's enjoyment at the * lender's anxiety was of short duration, for wheu the act of restoration came about, he discovered to his horror that his friends had as completely destroyed the genuine note aa he had the sham one 1 An explanation was made to the lender, the audience knew nothing of the disaster, and before the conclusion of the entertainment the lender waß compensated for his loss. Professor G-. , hailing from the north of Scotland, had acquired great dexterity in; ;his manipulation of eggs, with which he performed a number of really clever illusions. In practising: these j feats he generally lised hard-boiled eggs biifrhe very carelessly allowed several Unboiled eggs to get mixed with the boiled one's,' so that after some time he could not tell the boiled fron tbe un- Jboiledi He was /punished for his 'carelessness in a way he little dreamt of. He' was engaged- to perform at a Christmas party held at the mansion of the Lord Provost of a Scotch city. His audience on that .occasion was the most Ifasßionable 'to' wnich he 'had performed ei&er before or &nee. His first experi- MeAtf consisted in extracting eggs from the* flame of a candle that stood upon hiis table. Three eggs were successfully produced, which be proceeded, as was his custom, to hand round, to prove their geniiineßß ; but in handing one of them 1 -to a' gentlemen to examine, he allowed ope the others to fall, which, striking on the knee of a young lady, broke) and besmeared her drees. Tbe egg, having been long in the performer's possession, was considerably 'tstale.j- and a disagreeable and sickening odour speedily filled the apartment, handkerchiefs and smelling-bottles were Jbrpught .into, requsition ;'. the young ladyHaditb. retire .and change her dress, which she never wore again.; the other ladies also fitted the apartment, and the entertainment was brought to an abrupt, termination. $$ Bsr the performance of that welikif6wn and surprising feat, " the rising cards," the con juror requires a pack of cardif specially prepared. A black Bbre^d is fastened to the cards, and so arranged that, when the pack is placed |rjpf^ard-case fitted to the top of a pole, certain cards rice Irom the pack, one at a time, on the 'assistant behind the ■&vi i tain or under the stage pulling the thftfad! The 6onjuor, with his ordinary pack, invites the audience to " seie.ct " several cards, but in teality " forces " cards corresponding to those arranged in the concealed pack. These " forced " cards, which the audience believe have been selected at random, ace retured to the pack, and the conjuror, on getting back to his table, changes the pack for the prepared one, and the feat proceeds. In the hands of a certain conjuror this feat seldom fails to produce a brilliant effect, but on one occasion it didn't. The cards having been placed in posit_pn, at the word of command a card
was seen to rise slowly from the pack. Addressing the party who drew the first card, the conjuror said : . ■ "<ls that your card, sir ? " ".No," was the prompt reply. ' Indeed,' said the astonished wizard ; " pray what card was it V* "The ten of clubs." " Weil, isn't that the ten of clubs ? " " Yob, but it isn't the card I drew from the pack." The conjuror, taking the card in question from the pack, and showing both it's back and front to the audience, said : " Ladies and gentlemen, Igive you my word, this is the identical card taken hap-hazard from the pack by that gentlenlanj*' * } .;, f - i-. . ;'; ,-* *. "I beg 'your pardon)" said that individual, *? this Js jthe card I, drew," holding up a card. It flashed upbn the conjuror that he had omitted to collect the cards drawn by the audience, and, making a courteous apology, he collected the cards and substituted another feat in place of " the rising cards." It is well known that the extraordinary and | sensational illusion — the " Sphinx," or the living, speaking head without a body, — is performed by means of mirrors. These mirrors are so aranged under the table on which the head is exhibited, as to reflect the sides of the stage, which to the audience appear to be the back of the stage, seen through, the legs of the table. The individual under the table, concealed behind these mirrors, at a proper moment puts his head through a hole in the table, and a corresponding hole in the the bottom of the box placed thereon, and the perfect illusion is J produced of a living human head utterly destitute of a body. The performer, in moving about the stage, is, of course, careful to select those positions where the reflection of his legs will not be seen in the mirrors, otherwise the illusion would be completely destroyed. Some years ago, when this sensation was being exhibited in the south of Scotland, an evildisposed individual, to whom the secret was known, brought into the hall with him a little -dOg and a piece of raw meat. While the eyes of the audience were riveted on tbe strange, and, to them, awe-inspiring spectacle, ahd a profound stillness reigned in the hall, the piece of raw meat was thrown against the hitherto unsuspected mirrors emphatically betraying their presence as well by the sound as by the momentary reflection of the meat as it struck the glass and fell to the floor. The dog bounded on to the stage to get the meat, and his reflection in the mirror leading him to believe that another dog was aiming at the same prize, sprang at his imaginary opponent, only to knock his nose against the glass and fall backwards, with a series of yelps. The audience by this time needed no more to convince them of the presence of the mirrors beneath the table ; but if more proof be necessary, they had it when the enraged conjuror went to neize hold of the dog by the tail, and allowed his own and the dog's reflection to be be plainly seen in the mirrors. That dog died a very violent death, but nobody made a claim for compensation for its loss. Quite recently another trick was played upon a well-known sensational conjuror. His programme included the great Indian basket trick. In this extraordinary experiment, the performer, enveloped in a dress somewhat resembling that worn by Captain Boy ton, the swimmer, enters a large basket on the stage, and the assistant, taking a sword, is about to plunge it into the basket, when the performer is seen entering the hall by the front door, and walking towards the stage, carrying the Boyton dress over his arm. The basket is then turned over, and seen to be perfectly empty. It may be readily conjectured that besides the assistant on the stage another person is required to act as " double." The Boyton dross is oaly a blind, used to deceive the audience. In order to don the dress, the performer steps behind a screen, where the " double " is secreted, and with part of the dress on be comes out at one side of the screen, ostensibly to put out one of the lights, but in reality to show himself in the dress. Getting again behind the screen he makeb his escape at the back of the stage ; while the " double," emerging from the opposite side of the screen, completely enveloped in the Boyton dress, puts out another light, and then helps the assistant to place the basket in position. Opening the basket, the " double, '' ! whom the audieuce naturally believe to be the performer himself, steps into the basket j while the performer, carrying his dress on his arm, makes his way round to the front of the hall, manifesting his presence when the assistant is about to plunge the sword, into the basket. The basket is shown empty by a very Simple, yet Ingenious Contrivance. It is provided with two bottoms placed at right angles, like the letter L, made separate from the basket proper, but joined to it at the angle, where they work on a pivot. The "double," stepping into the basket, lies on the horizontal bottom and behind the perpendicular one j but wheu the basket is tilted over on its side it seems to be empty, the perpendicular bottom now appearing to the audience to be the bottom proper of the basket, the " double " being completely concealed behind it. The performer under notice happened to have a quarrel with his bill-poster,
who also acted as door-keeper. The | man of paste, who knew the secret of the " double," determined to have re venge on the man of mystery. It was the last night of the entertainment in the town. The " basket trick " was the last item on the programme, and it had been reached. The " double," whom the audience believed to "be the performer, waa on the stage, preparing to enter the basket. The wicked paste manipulator, seeing the unsuspecting performer coming up the hall stairs, opened the door and shouted, loud enough for the entire audience to hear — Hurry up, man ; you're late. Your wife's in the hamper long ago, and the stage is waiting ! " The attention of the audience was directed to the door, where the Inckless and bewildered performer was seen hurriedly entering, while the " double " stood by the side of the basket on the stage, not knowing how to act in the dilemma. The titter which rose from the audience when the contretemps occured gradually grew to a loud laugh as the state of affairs was more fully realised ; but it speedily changed to a roar when the "double," apparently losing all presence of mind, drew off the headpiece, and disclosed to the audience the head of a woman ! The conjuror's wife, standing there in her Boyton dress, presented a most ludicrous appearance.