Magic Trick: The Chameleon Card

Have two cards chosen, and bring one to the top and one to the bottom. Take the pack, face upwards, and make the single card slip pass from top to bottom, reversing the card during the process. This will bring the two chosen cards back to back. Openly take them up by one corner, but show only one card. Ask the name of the other card, and, blowing on the two in the hand, turn them rapidly round, and thus show the one at the back. Replace the cards at once in the centre of the pack. Care will have to be taken that the cards are very even when back to back, or it will transpire that two cards are in the fingers, and not one only. This trick is sometimes performed with the aid of prepared cards, the two—duplicates of which must, in this instance, be "forced" from the pack—being gummed together back to back. Supposing the cards to be queen of hearts and ten of spades, the performer would thus proceed: Bring the ten to the top, and the queen to the bottom, unknown to the audience. Produce, as a single card, as if taken from the pack (you will, of course, have them concealed about you), the prepared cards, showing the audience the ten. In the left hand you will hold the pack, displaying the queen. Prepare for passing the ten (vide Fig. 35), which is at the back, to the front, and then say, "Hey, presto, pass!" Turn the prepared cards rapidly round, and at the time execute the pass, when the change will have been effected. Palm the prepared cards, and give the pack round to be examined. This method is useful when the performer is able to execute the pass peculiar to the trick with one hand only. As this is a very pretty effect, which may be introduced in all manner of emergencies, two illustrations are given (see Figs. 40 and 41).

Fig. 40

Fig. 41

A very excellent variety of this trick is that described by Houdin in his work on "Conjuring," and communicated to me by Professor Hoffmann, to whose research the conjuring world is not a little indebted. Most of us have seen the three cards forming a portion of the marvellous and heterogeneous pennyworth offered to the public by a versatile itinerant vendor. When spread open one way, the seven of spades only is visible, and on being shut up and opened the reverse way, graceful female figures or donkeys' heads meet the view; Houdin's trick is framed upon this model, but, of course, very much elaborated and improved. Indeed, it was a peculiarity of Houdin's that he never did touch anything without improving it. The directions for the trick under notice are as follows: Have a pack made with plain white backs, each card being divided by a line diagonally from corner to corner. Of the halves thus formed, one is to represent queen of spades, and the other the ten of hearts. On the back of each card paint the ace of clubs. Have a heap of cards near you, the three uppermost cards of which are duplicates of those in the prepared pack, arranged in an order which is known to you. If you prefer it, these cards can at first be forced from an ordinary pack, and then given to be held in the audience, which heightens the effect of the trick. Take one of the three cards—for example, the ten of hearts—and, after showing it to the audience, say that the fact of placing it with those held in your hand (the prepared pack) will change them all into tens of hearts. Taking care that the ten of hearts halves are farthest from you when the cards are held faces downwards, as they must be, place the card at the bottom, and, after a little nonsense, spread them all out fanwise, with the faces towards the audience. Close them again, and remove the ten of hearts. Then take up next card, the queen of spades, and place that at the bottom, having previously taken care to turn the pack round so as to bring the court card halves to the fore. Repeat the operation of opening the cards as before, and reclose them, discarding the queen. Now take up the ace of clubs and place it at the bottom, or anywhere else you please. Give the cards a flourish, so as to enable you to turn them completely over, and then open them once more, this time displaying the backs to the audience. It is as well to have the top card of the prepared pack quite plain at the back, as it is not always possible to avoid showing it whilst performing the trick. When the aces are shown, this card can be passed to the middle, where the absence of an ace on its centre will not be noticed. The beauty of this trick is considerably enhanced if the prepared pack be palmed, and another ordinary one shown round for examination. When this pack is returned to you, you place upon it the hand in which the prepared cards are palmed, and, saying, "Now I take a few cards from this pack," affect to do so. This at once disarms all suspicion of any preparation. There is no necessity for using more than eighteen or twenty prepared cards, and that number can easily be palmed with a little practice. Some advise changing the packs altogether, but this method I cannot recommend, as it entails a deal of extra trouble, without a commensurate meed of effect. In "Grand Magic,", a method for changing packs of cards will be described in its place, and the learner can then choose for himself. When well executed, there is no prettier trick than the one described above.

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