Magic Trick: The Hatched Card

A chosen card is destroyed or made to disappear, and on an ordinary egg (selected from a number) being broken, it is found inside.

Before describing the trick itself, I will give a unique method (Herrmann again) for obtaining the eggs. A rehearsed assistant will be required, and he must have in his mouth an egg, and, besides, either a portion (either end) of the shell of, or a wooden or porcelain imitation of, one. Under the vest band, and sustained by the elastic thereof, you have four more eggs concealed. You come on with your assistant, whose mouth is then empty, and, telling the audience that you will require an egg, ask him if he has taken the egg powder you gave him, and whether he thinks he can give you any eggs. On receiving his reply in the affirmative, tell him to fetch a plate. This he does, and, at the same time, pops the egg and real or imitation portion of shell into his mouth, all done in an instant, so as to avoid suspicion. He now takes up his position in the centre of the stage, a little "up," with the plate held before him and elbows close to his sides. You stand beside him, and place your rear hand upon his head. He then slowly exhibits the egg, which, with the forward hand, you then extract with seemingly immense difficulty. Whilst the forward hand is thus engaged, the rear one takes an egg from the vest, and you cross over behind the assistant, and are just about to take the plate from him when he exhibits the shell, which, to the audience, appears to be another egg. You exclaim, "What, another! you must have taken too much powder," and then advancing the forward (late the rear) hand, you slip the egg palmed in it half into your assistant's mouth, and then proceed to drag it forth with the same difficulty which attended the abstraction of the first one. The rear hand has by this time another egg in it, and you go round behind the assistant, only to find him exhibiting another egg, which you extract, as before. The process is repeated until all the eggs are gone. It is not advisable to use more than five eggs, for precautionary reasons, and that number is quite sufficient to excite wonder. The assistant must be careful not to allow the shell inside his mouth to be seen whilst you are removing an egg just "laid." If you can find anyone with a mouth capacious enough to contain two eggs (small ones will do), secure him as an inestimable treasure. No trick being more conducive to laughter than this one, extra care must be taken with it. The performer should move about in an easy and unostentatious manner, and endeavour, by word and mien, to keep up the impression that the whole of the trick lies in the assistant's mouth. The use of the extra egg end is not absolutely necessary, for the palming can begin with the first egg, the one originally in the mouth being kept there till the last, when it may be allowed to fall out into the performer's outstretched palms. Either method is effective. Show the eggs round on a plate, and have one selected with which to perform the succeeding trick. For that, the following apparatus will be necessary.

Make, either of wood or metal (tin, brass, zinc, &c.), a hollow wand (open at one end, and closed at the other), painted or varnished on the outside, so as to resemble in every little particular the wand you ordinarily use. If the latter has ivory or brass tips, then your imitation wand must have the same. There is not the least necessity for running into any expense, for, by going to a working tinman or walking-stick maker, the thing can be obtained for a shilling. I much prefer wood to metal, and would recommend its use. This imitation need not be made of real ebony, although it should be of tolerably hard wood. Fitting inside there must be another piece of wood, an inch shorter than the interior of the wand itself, which should move up and down pretty easily, but not loosely. Commencing exactly 2in. from one end, cut a slit 1in. long, and, making a little peg of wood, or providing yourself with a small brass round-headed nail, which must be afterwards coloured to match the wand, drive it into the sliding piece of wood, which must be pushed up against the closed end of the wand at the time. By holding the wand at the closed end, and placing the thumb on the little peg, the sliding piece of wood can be made to move up and down as easily as can the pen or pencil inside an ivory holder. By making the slit the same length as the space left at the open end of the wand, the sliding piece will not protrude when the peg is pushed down by means of the thumb. The sliding piece should also be blackened all over, as, if left white, it might show through the slit or at the exposed end, which, however, should never be turned full towards the audience at any time.

It is now open to you either to force a card or to have one selected haphazard. If the card is to be forced, then you can have the wand loaded beforehand. This is done by doubling up the card until it is only 1in. wide, rolling it up, and putting it into the wand, which you can then leave on the table handy. If the card is not to be forced, the wand must be behind, and the card chosen before the egg-laying performance (supposing you find your eggs in that way) takes place. Have only about twenty cards to select from, and let your assistant know what they are. They can be arranged in sequences or suits, for greater convenience. When your assistant retires, after producing the eggs, he takes the pack of cards with him, and whilst you are showing the eggs round he looks through the nineteen cards and finds out which one is missing. He then takes a duplicate of this, and puts it into the wand. For the sake of expedition, you should have a duplicate of each of the twenty cards in readiness. I remember once finding myself without a duplicate of a selected card, and I had actually to go forward and, under the plea of placing it in an exposed position, "where everyone could see it," effect a change. I left a dummy card on the chair (the "exposed position,") face downwards, and carried off the chosen one in triumph, feeling very much relieved. This method of having a card or cards chosen from a pack, the cards of which are known, does not belong particularly to this trick, but can be used in many others. It is only worth while to take the trouble when your audience is a particularly sharp one, and not likely to be imposed upon by a "force." The egg and card both chosen, you may do what you please with the latter, so long as you get rid of it, and, taking the egg, which you have previously had minutely examined and held up to the light, to show that it is empty, upon a plate, give the plate to be held by a spectator, and then break the shell by means of the open end of your prepared wand. Immediately you are well through the shell, push the peg along by means of the thumb, and the rolled up card will be forced into the egg, whence have it extracted by a spectator. If you please, one of the audience may hold the egg whilst you break the shell. I need hardly mention that, before you bring your wand into play, you should make a fuss about passing the card into the egg. The reader, by this time, will take that as a matter of course. Always have a cloth or handkerchief handy in this trick for wiping egg and fingers.

The preceding six card tricks, used judiciously, that is to say, not too frequently, should, with those described in "Drawing-room Magic"(La Carte Générale, for instance), last a conjuror a lifetime. They are the very best I have seen performed, for they combine sleight of hand with a minimum amount of apparatus; indeed, the articles I have directed to be used are hardly worthy of the name, the nearest approach to it being the card-cases and the hollow wand. There are a number of tricks sold in which cards rise from demons' heads, imitation plants, and pedestals; but these are all exceedingly expensive, and are nearly all worked by electricity. Besides this, there always seems to be an artificial effect about such things. For all the audience know, there may be a small boy concealed in the demon's head, or in the huge flower-pot in which the "Magic Rose Tree" is generally stood. At any rate, the idea of "sleight of hand" is not conveyed, and, if for that reason only, I will have none of them.

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