Magic Trick: A Mysterious Flight

The performer shows a canary and announces that it is about to take an aerial flight. "I trust the aeroplane will not break down," he says, "for I think a great deal of this little bird. I call it Wheeler and Wilson, because it is not a Singer. I was told it could be trained to sing, but I've trained it over a great many miles, and it can nary sing." With these few remarks the performer binds the feet of the bird together. "But," he continues, "as that will not prevent him flying, I shall wrap him up in this piece of paper. I might add, parenthetically, that this is not a spirit rapping." When the bird is wrapped up, the package is laid on top of a soft felt hat. "I shall now load our little traveler into this pistol," he says, picking up the usual conjurer's pistol. "You see, the trick is done mainly by concussion, and this is the coneussor. Will you take this weapon, sir?" he says, addressing one of the audience. "I will take this sword. When I say three, you fire and I'll thrust. Now then, ready! One, two, three!" Bang goes the pistol! and the same moment the performer makes a thrust with the sword, and there is the bird on the point.

For this experiment, the performer needs: two canaries, nearly alike in size and color; a sword; a pistol with a large barrel; a soft hat; a piece of soft cord; a piece of paper in which to wrap the bird; a dummy packet, resembling the one in which the bird is placed; and a table with a padded box at the back, to catch the bird package. The sword is like the well-known card-sword, and in the handle is a spring-barrel on which is rolled the cord that draws the bird, at the proper moment, to the point of the sword. Another style of sword is made with a hollow blade through which runs an elastic cord. See Fig. 157. The bird is provided with a harness, made of a strip of soft leather, about three-quarters of an inch in width and three and one-eighth inches in length. In this are made four cuts, as shown in Fig. 158. The bird's wings go through two of these cuts and its feet through the other two. The ends of the strip meet under the bird's belly and are sewed together, and at this point is fastened a small ring. See Fig. 159. To this is attached the cord or the elastic to which the bird is fastened before it is put in the holder on the hilt of the sword. Care must be taken when the bird is laid in the holder, to see that its feet lie next to the inner side of the hilt. If the tension of the spring-barrel or the elastic is right, neither too strong nor too weak, no harm can befall the bird as it is shielded by the leather band, which may remain on the bird.

Fig. 157

Fig. 158

Fig. 159

In binding the feet of the second bird a soft, cotton string must be used and be tied loosely. The left hand takes the bird by its feet, which will cause it to flutter, and it is at this moment that the feet are tied. The soft hat is shown to be empty and in going back to his table the performer drops into it the dummy packet. The hat is laid, rim down, on the table, and the bird-packet is placed under it (the dummy packet is already there), taking care to lift the hat only a trifle. Addressing the audience the performer says: "Don't imagine that I got rid of the bird when I put it under the hat, but to satisfy you I will place the packet on top of the hat." As he says this, the performer, before raising the hat, draws it toward the back of the table, and as he is about to raise the hat to pick up the dummy, the genuine packet will drop into the padded box. Showing that the hat is empty, he lays it on another table and puts the dummy packet on top of it, as shown in Fig. 160. Picking up the pistol he loads the dummy packet into the barrel and then hands the weapon to some gentleman with the request that he fires at command. The performer takes the sword, which is already prepared, counts three, and as the pistol is fired thrusts out the sword, releasing the spring-barrel or the elastic, and the bird is seen at the sword's point. The performer is careful to hold the sword horizontally, not pointing upwards. Further, the sword must be held with the arm at full length, and at the moment the spring or the elastic is released, the arm must be drawn back quickly toward the body. This will prevent the forcible impact of the bird against the point of the sword; it will be impossible for any one to see where the bird comes from and it will seem as if it were caught flying in the air. With proper care the bird will not be injured in the least and may take part in the trick for years.

Fig. 160

Fig. 161 Illustrations to The New Die and Hat Trick.

The dummy packet to be loaded into the pistol ought to be made of flash-paper.

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