Magic Trick: The Lightning Change

This is an effective trick of my own, and the outcome of practice at the single-handed pass shown at Figs. 31 and 32. The performer has several cards selected haphazard. How many is not material, but four or five will be sufficient. These he has placed in the pack in the ordinary way, and brought to the bottom; an extra card, not one of those chosen, being added last of all. The order in which the cards were replaced in the pack should be noted. The performer stands sideways to the audience, with the left arm extended, the pack being held in that hand perpendicularly, and not horizontally—the faces of the cards, and not the backs, visible. The thumb should lie well across the centre of the undermost card, and the performer should ascertain by feel that he has it in his grip before continuing the trick. The card that is exposed to view is the added one, and it conceals the first card gathered in of the chosen ones, which is naturally the undermost. The chooser of this card is requested to name it, when the performer informs the company that, if they watch closely enough, they will see the one card change into the other. Anyhow, if they are unable to see it, they will infallibly hear it. As this pass cannot be made noiselessly, the latter is a very necessary remark to make. The change is not effected with the hand held stationary—no pass ever is—a rapid movement, some six inches in extent, and somewhat circular, being made towards the body and back again. It is only a fraction of a second in duration, but by the time it is completed the pass must be accomplished. Each card is made to appear in turn, the performer taking care not to attempt the pass until he feels the card well gripped by the root of the thumb; otherwise, a fiasco may easily result. The pass may also be effected whilst turning the pack face downwards and back again very rapidly, but I do not find this method quite as good as the partially circular movement towards the body, the cards sometimes flying out of the fingers in a body, which is destructive to the success of the trick, and highly disconcerting to the performer. The feat is ostensibly exhibited as one of skill, and, when properly executed, invariably affords astonishment; for, although the company are apprised of the actual moment at which the cards change, and even hear the movement, they can see nothing of what takes place.

This concludes the series of card tricks, and also the first part, Drawing-room Conjuring. I have not pretended to describe—and, indeed, the feat would be quite impossible—every trick capable of being performed with the various articles mentioned. Every conjuror who is what is popularly, if somewhat bluntly, termed "worth his salt," will find out little dodges and variations in the course of practice and exhibition; and I would advise no one who discovers a method for arriving at any given result which comes to him easier than any described by me, to follow my instructions in preference to his own ideas. This advice more particularly applies to card tricks. Conjuring, it must be borne in mind, is not like cricket, or rowing, or shooting, or anything else; there is no legitimate means of arriving at anything through its medium. The wished-for result must be produced by fair means or by foul.

Many tricks included in the first portion may be successfully introduced on the stage. This is essentially the case with the more showy card tricks.

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