The performer borrows a man's hat and places it on his table; then he asks the ladies to lend him four or five rings. These he ties with a bit of ribbon and hands to some lady, asking her to hold them.
Then he breaks an egg into a tin cup, and going again to the one who holds the rings extends his open left hand and, at the same time, his right hand, in which is the cup.
"Will you, madam," he says, "be good enough to drop the rings in here."
Naturally, the lady drops the rings into the cup.
"No, no, madam," the performer cries, starting back as if in astonishment, "not in the cup! In my hand. However, it is too late now. How shall I get the rings out?"
Returning to his stage, he pours the egg and the rings from the cup into the hat, which is on the table.
"Who lent me the hat?" he asks. "You, sir? Then I shall get you to help me fish the rings from this mess."
Going to the owner of the hat, the performer turns the so-called "mess" on to his head, whereupon, to the surprise and admiration of the audience, there is seen on top of the man's head a lovely wreath of flowers to which are attached the borrowed rings.
When the performer borrows the hat he receives it with his left hand, and takes it to his table, where he lays it on its side. On his way to the table, his back being to the audience, his left hand approaches the left lapel of his coat and opens it a trifle, while he releases with his right hand from under the left breast of his coat, close to the sleeve, a small wreath of flowers which is concealed there hanging from a hook. An excellent hook for this purpose is sold for use on a lady's dress. It has broad, rounded points that will not tear, and at its back is a safety pin. As he takes it out, he brings the hat close to his breast and thrusts his right hand, with the wreath, into it. Should the movement be noticed at all, it will merely appear as if the hat were being passed from one hand to the other. As the wreath drops into the hat, the performer seizes the brim with his right thumb inside the hat, the fingers outside, and holds it stationary till he reaches the table; the left hand drops to his side.
Before he goes to borrow the rings the performer holds concealed in his right hand four cheap, gilt rings, which he takes from a hook attached to his trousers' leg and hidden by his coat tail; under his left arm is his wand, which he has picked up from his table. As he approaches the ladies, from whom he is to borrow the rings, he takes the wand from under his arm and slips the imitation rings over one end, keeping them covered with his hand. As the rings are offered to him he receives them as explained in the second part of The Nest of Boxes.
Putting the fingers of his left hand into the lower pocket of his waistcoat, he leaves the rings there and takes out a piece of bright colored ribbon. With this he ties together the dummy rings, hands them to a lady who is seated at a distance from the owners of the borrowed rings, and requests her to guard them carefully between her two hands.
On his table are the egg and the cup. Returning to the stage, the performer breaks the egg into the cup, and going to the lady who holds the rings induces her, as already told, to drop them into the cup.
This cup is double or, rather, there are two cups one inside the other. In the inner one the bottom is not at the extreme end, but is set up about an inch and a half, as shown by the dotted lines in the illustration A, Fig. 167, so as to leave a space at the lower end, and there is a slight cut there to allow the air to escape. The upper edge of this cup is turned outward so that it will rest on B, and may be easily lifted out.
With the rings, apparently, in the cup, the performer returns to his table, and as he turns the hat over on its crown, drops into it the borrowed rings, which he has taken from his pocket. Pretending to measure the depth of the hat he lowers the cup into it for just a moment, and, as he does so, leaves B. inside. This he does in a half hesitating way, as if uncertain what to do, and then, as if fully decided, lifts out the cup and pours the contents of A into B, though apparently into the hat. At the last moment as A disappears for a fraction of time, it is fitted again into B, and the two cups are brought out together. As if some of the egg is on his fingers, the performer pretends to wipe them on the hat, and while doing so attaches the borrowed rings to tiny hooks or bits of wire on the wreath. After this, he hurries to the owner of the hat, and turns the wreath and the rings out on his head.
When presenting the trick in a private room or a small hall it is advisable to have the bottom of the cup B covered with a thin lining of cork, so as to deaden the sound made by the rings when they are poured from one cup to the other.