Magic Trick: Thought-reading

Give the pack into the hands of a spectator, and allow one card to be secretly chosen. Replaced in the pack, it is passed to the top (or bottom), and a furtive glance taken at it, the palm being employed, if necessary. Let three cards be chosen in this manner, a fourth being forced, consequently previously known. The object of this diversion is in order that the last card selected may be placed in the pack by the chooser, and the cards immediately shuffled, which will distract attention from the fact that this was not done in the other cases, which, however, could be done after the performer had glanced at the card, if necessary, which it is not, as it draws out any trick too long to have the cards frequently shuffled. The performer must be careful to remember the cards, and by whom drawn. Taking the pack in his hand, he presents one end of it to a card drawer, explaining that he is about to give an exposition of thought-reading. Although there is no reason for failing, it is as well not to make this announcement any earlier, in case of anything going not quite rightly. The performer makes a great fuss about the necessity for looking full in the eyes of the person drawing the card, and pretends to arrive at the designation of the card by slow degrees, saying to himself, but audibly enough to be heard, for instance, "A red card—hearts—one, two, three, four, five, six, seven spots;" and then, loudly, "The seven of hearts." Every incidental occurrence in the behaviour of the persons whose thoughts are being read must be taken advantage of; a want of alacrity in obeying instructions, for example, tending to make the reading more difficult, the subject being even left for the time being, and returned to after other cards have been revealed. This trick has the advantage of bearing considerable repetition.

A second method is as follows: The performer holds the cards in one hand, and presents them to a spectator to cut, with the injunction that the underneath card of the cut shall be removed, looked at, and remembered. It is immaterial how many cards are thus chosen. As they are selected they are replaced in the pack by the person choosing, the performer turning his head away, if necessary, whilst this is being done; or they may be put back together, and the pack shuffled by the company. Simply by placing one end of the pack in the chooser's hand, whilst holding the other end himself, the performer is enabled to name the cards as before. This phase of the trick is accomplished by means of a "cut force." Glancing at the bottom card, the performer makes the pass, keeping the two packets apart by means of the little finger. The card which the performer has seen is now at the bottom of the upper half, and the pack is presented for cutting. As the four fingers are along one side of the pack, and the thumb along the other, the cut must be made lengthwise; and, as the little finger keeps the pack open at the back, it must be made there. The person cutting will notice nothing. Whilst the card is being examined, the performer glances at the fresh bottom card, and, when the upper half of the pack is returned to him, once more makes the pass, and presents the cards to another person to be cut. Four cards are quite sufficient for the effect; but, if the performer can remember others, he is quite at liberty to increase the number. The finish of the trick will depend upon the performer's ability to simulate the possession of thought-reading powers. If he has been showing any card tricks previously, with success, he may commence this one by saying, "I have an idea that many here fancy I have a method for forcing certain cards upon persons, such cards being previously known to me. Now, in order to render such a proceeding quite impossible, I will ask this gentleman to shuffle the cards thoroughly, so that I cannot know the position of any one of them, and then have the cards cut haphazard." This explains why the cut is used, and at once makes the trick appear stupendously difficult.

The "cut force" here described may be successfully employed for the purpose of reproducing cards that have been previously chosen, thought of, &c.; one of the company being made to cut the pack at the very spot where that card is situated, after shuffling, &c.

If the company appears still sceptical about the powers of mind claimed by the performer, he may give a final convincing proof. Placing the pack entirely in the hands of the company, he desires them to select two or three cards. These cards are gathered by a spectator, and given to another to hold, and afterwards placed by him in the pack. The performer then presents his hand to each chooser, and reads the cards as before. Unless the performer can execute the change with certainty, he must not attempt this method, or ruinous exposure may await him. About the first portion of the trick all is fair and above board, the company selecting the cards as they please. The performer, taking the pack in his left hand, then says, "Now, in order that I may not get a sight of the cards, will some gentleman kindly gather them in his hand?" Whilst this is being done, the performer must watch narrowly whose card is placed first, whose second, &c. Taking the three cards from the hand of the collector, the performer turns to a spectator on his left, requesting him to hold them between his hands. As he turns, he makes the change, the three chosen cards being left at the bottom, and three indifferent ones removed from the top, and given to be held. Great caution is necessary to keep the cards well covered by the upper hand, so that the performer shall not see them—his actual anxiety, of course, being lest any one else should do so. By this time he has glanced at the bottom card, and, making the single card slip pass, sees the next also, and the third soon afterwards. Affecting to see mistrust in the faces of the company, the performer says that perhaps it would, after all, be better to have the three cards in the pack. For this purpose the pack is handed to the person holding the three cards, who is directed to shuffle them with the rest. The trick then proceeds as before. If the change is properly executed, the effect of this trick is extraordinary, because the three cards have, apparently, always been in full view of everyone; and even if the performer had accidentally seen the face of the lowest one, the others have certainly never been visible to him.

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