Magic Trick: The Missing Link

This is another very telling card trick, and one that has made the fame of more than one amateur conjuror. A card is chosen from the pack and torn into shreds. The pieces, with the exception of a single one, which is given into the custody of a spectator, are then put into a little box, piece of paper, &c., and made to disappear. The card is then found restored in some part of the audience, but it is noticed that a small portion of it is missing. The single piece, which was given to a spectator to hold, will be found to be of the very size and shape required, thus proving that the performer restored the actual card that was destroyed.

For this trick, some slight prearrangement will be necessary. In the first place, a card (say, the six of hearts) must have a small piece torn out from one of its sides. This mutilated card must then be secreted in some out-of-the-way place in the auditorium, or, what is still better, in the pocket of one of the audience, of course some time before the performance begins. I once had it sewn up in the lining of a coat, and on another occasion inserted in the sole of a boot: but, in such instances as these, care must be taken that the article containing the card is to be worn on the evening of the performance, or a fiasco will result. It is, however, always worth while to run a little risk for the sake of increased effect. The small piece torn from the card is carefully kept, and, whilst the trick is being performed, should be on the table, concealed by any trifling object that may be upon it at the same time.

"Force" (see instructions for "forcing") a card, exactly similar in every way to the one you have previously mutilated and concealed, and then ask the chooser to tear it up. Whilst this is being done, go to your table for your box or piece of paper, according to which you may elect to use, and bring with it, concealed in the fingers, the little piece of card. Then have the pieces, which should be reduced as nearly as possible to the size of your secreted piece, placed in the box or paper and, putting your fingers among them, affect to take out one piece, but, in reality, show the one you already had in your hand, and give it to a spectator to hold very tightly, or if he likes, to put it into his purse. If you have plenty of time on your hands, and wish to make extra fuss, you can have it put into an envelope and sealed by the audience, which certainly improves the effect. A very pardonable joke here comes in well. On giving the portion of the card to be held, say to the gentleman, "Will you kindly keep the piece, sir?" and then, affecting to notice reluctance in his looks, "No! then I must apply to a magistrate, who will, I have no doubt, bind you over to keep the peace for six months or so, whilst I shall only trouble you for a bare six minutes." If you have had the pieces put in paper, you can roll it up into a ball and vanish by palming in the right hand, whilst affecting to place it in the left, after the manner previously described for vanishing objects. A box can be treated in the same manner, or you can give the trick extra finish by having two boxes exactly similar, one being filled with chocolate creams or other comfits, and exchanged for the one containing the torn-up card. The box should be a small round one, and can then be treated exactly as if it were a coin, and palmed.

The pieces are then commanded to pass to wherever you have originally concealed the torn card, which will be found in due course. You exhibit it triumphantly, not affecting to notice the absence of a portion of it at first and, when you do make the discovery, you must appear overcome with bewilderment. Then suddenly remember the piece you have given to be held, and have it fitted to the card, which it will naturally make quite complete. Then, if you have used boxes, have the box supposed to contain the pieces opened by the lady who chose and tore up the card, and present her with it and its contents. Most conjurors leave the trick here, but, if the performer pleases, he can go still further, and render the card quite complete again. This is easily managed with the use of a card box (see p. 127), which can have a perfect card concealed in it. The incomplete card and piece are put in, and the box turned over. This latter phase is not absolutely necessary for the success of the trick. When, as is sometimes the case, it is found to be impossible to conceal the mutilated card satisfactorily in the audience, the card box will have to be used in the first instance.

This trick is best introduced in the middle of a performance, when the production of the card from the person of one of the audience will look more genuine than it would if it took place at the commencement.

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