Magic Trick: The Cards in the Envelopes

A pack of cards is thoroughly shuffled by the audience. While this is being done the performer palms four cards of the same suit and number, as, for instance, four of the ace of diamonds, which he has had concealed either in a pocket or that have been lying on top of the pack, at the start. When the pack is returned to him he places these four cards on top of it. Going among his audience he "forces" these cards on four different persons who are seated some distance apart, so that they may not be able to compare notes. To each of these persons he hands an envelope with a request that he places his card in the envelope, seals it, and places it in an inside pocket. Going to his table, the performer lays the pack aside, and asks some one to come forward to assist him. Taking a second pack he requests his volunteer assistant to shuffle it. Spreading the pack out he calls attention to the fact that it is a regular pack and thoroughly shuffled. This gives him the opportunity to locate the ace of diamonds and slip it to the top. Then he spreads the cards in a row on the table, taking care that the ace of diamonds is about the middle of the row and that it projects a trifle beyond the line of the other cards. He requests the assistant to take a card. By pointing carelessly to the ace of diamonds it is almost certain that that card will be selected. Then the assistant is allowed to mix up' the cards as they lie on the table and take a second card, without forcing a card this time. This is repeated twice more till he has four cards, one being the ace of diamonds. Addressing his audience the performer explains that four of the company have each drawn a card. That each card is in a sealed envelope and each envelope is stowed away in an inner pocket.

Under the circumstances it is impossible for any one, except those who drew the cards to know what they are. He further calls attention to the fact that the person who is assisting in the trick drew from a second pack four cards at random, at least it is supposed he did, but by some undefined influence he was forced to select the same cards as the gentlemen in the audience had taken. Then the cards that the assistant drew are shown to the four persons in the audience, and as each sees the ace of diamonds he admits that he sees his own card. Following this, the assistant is requested to collect the envelopes from the men in the audience, and a plate or tray is handed to him, so that the envelopes may be laid on it, and thus exclude any suspicion of a change. The assistant collects the envelopes and mixes them indiscriminately, and of the original holders each draws an envelope at random. "Again," says the performer, "this subtle influence is at work, and each one of you shall draw the envelope he held originally. The envelopes are opened by the holders of them and each admits that he finds his own card.

Instead of spreading out the cards for the assistant to select one, the ace of diamonds may be forced on him and he may take the others at random, but the better way is the one described.