"Let me call your attention to these pieces of tissue-paper," the performer begins, as he picks up three pieces, each ten or twelve inches square, a red, a white, and a dark blue. When these have been duly examined by the audience, he returns with them to the stage. Crumpling the papers together, in a second his hands are filled with tiny flags, which go floating down among the audience like "leaves in Vallombrosa." Should the supply become exhausted, he brings his hands together again, and the flags multiply right under the eyes of the audience. Finally, when but few remain, his hands are once more placed together, and from them come the original red, white, and blue pieces from which the flags sprang.
Wonderful as it seems, the method of this trick is simple. The so-called flags are merely bits of tissue-paper of various colors, about two by three inches each. These are mounted by pasting a small end of each on a twig of broom-corn about four inches long. When ready, about a hundred and fifty are laid one on top of another and rolled together; when bunched up the ends of the twigs are then cut evenly with scissors. The roll is then placed on a piece of black tissue-paper. The paper is rolled over them once or twice, then one end is turned in and the rolling is continued. When finished, there will be only one end projecting, and this is to be twisted tightly. Last of all, the turned in end is neatly trimmed with scissors. The result will be a compact package that will hold together well, and yet may be opened easily. Two or three such packages, according to the size of the audience, must be prepared in order to produce the proper effect. Even if the audience is small in number, the performer must show a quantity of flags scattered about to heighten the effect. Before coming before his audience, the performer tucks one of these packages under the right lapel of his coat. To secure it there a large black pin is thrust down through the cloth and the lower end is then bent upward so the point stands out, and on this point the package is stuck. In this place it is hidden by the lapel, but a simple upward touch of the hand will remove it. A second packet is fastened in the same way under the left lapel of his coat on a line with the top button hole, and still another under the vest, a trifle above the waistline, in such place that it may be easily reached by the hand that is on the opposite side.
As the performer gathers the original pieces of paper from the audience, he receives the blue first, the red next in his right hand, holding them with the second finger in front and the other three fingers and the thumb at the back. To take the third piece he turns his left side, partly, to the person who holds it and reaches for it with his left hand. This, naturally, brings his right hand against the lapel where the first packet of flags is concealed; the three fingers and thumb instantly seize the packet and hold it behind the blue piece of tissue-paper, where it is not seen.
The performer is careful not to bring away the hand at once, as that would surely attract attention, but when the left hand receives the white piece of tissue, the two hands are brought together. The trick is now, virtually, done. All that remains is for the performer to crumple up the three pieces of paper, break open the packet, twisting the twigs in an opposite direction from that in which they are rolled, and scatter about the flags. As they fall to the ground he lets the black wrapper go at the same time. When the performer has a number of flags in his hand, he sticks one in his buttonhole on the left side, and at that moment takes the packet that is under that lapel of the coat. The original pieces of paper are rolled into a ball and concealed in one hand. It is an easy matter to get the third package from under the vest: the performer need only bow in presenting a flag, and as he bends to offer the flag with one hand, the opposite hand reaches under the vest and secures the package there.
As a conclusion, the performer throws into the air a package which, when it reaches a certain height, bursts open and a shower of little flags falls over the audience. The effect is pretty and the arrangement is simple: the flags are bound together by a band of black tissue paper. Passing under and over one part of this band is a loop of fine black sewing silk. Attached to this loop is a length of the same silk, measuring about thirty feet, the other end being tied to a button of the performer's vest. The thread is pleated and held against the packet by a small rubber band. When the performer wishes to use it he slips off this band and taking the package throws it into the air. The rebound tears off the band and the flags fly about in every direction.
When only a few flags remain in his hands, the performer pulls out the original papers and shows them, but this is not necessary.
Sometimes a large silk flag is wrapped up and concealed under the side of the coat, and the performer seizes this and spreads it out as a finish, and it always brings applause.