Magic Trick: The Flying Plume and Seed

This is another trick in which duplicated representations play an important part, but the articles and methods employed are so totally distinct from those used in the preceding trick that one might follow the other in a performance, and yet both appear to be totally distinct in every way. There is a little simple apparatus in connection with the trick. First of all, a tin tube, 18in. long, and at least 1 ½in. in diameter. It is provided with a cap at each end, fitting inside, and not over, as is usual. The tube also possesses the peculiarity of being divided longitudinally, by a tin partition, into two portions. This partition does not run down the centre of the tube, but takes a transverse direction from one side of one end to the opposite side of the other end. By this means, both ends are open to their full extent, and the tube can be shown briskly round, with the cap off, without anyone being able to detect anything wrong. Of course, only one end will be given for inspection, the audience not suspecting the existence of more than one opening.

Then there is a vase, also of tin, but painted on the outside or japanned. This vase has a foot about 3in. high, which is hollow, and is connected with the body of the vase by means of a very large hole. This hole is hidden by a large domed cap on the end of a pin, which runs through the foot, and is furnished with a button underneath. A spiral spring inside keeps the cap down on the hole, but pressure on the button under the foot causes it to rise, and any seed that may be in the body of the vase will instantly run down into the foot. Two plumes of exactly the same colour and length will also be required. These plumes can be obtained at a cheap rate at any plumassier's. One of the compartments of the tube is secretly filled with seed, and the end opening that division is closed with the cap. This cap should bear a distinct mark to distinguish it from the other. In the vase there should be an egg, orange, lemon, or apple, &c., which must not be seen by the audience, and on the table there should be another similar article. Up the performer's sleeve, or in his side pocket, one of the plumes is secreted. The other plume is handed round and then thrust down the tube, which, to all appearances, it entirely fills. Place the tube on a chair or on the floor, and then take the vase, and into it pour a quantity of seed, going forward so soon as the article at the bottom is covered. Show the vase round full of seed, and then place it on another chair, the button being pressed and all the seed allowed to run away in transit.

Now borrow either a hat or a handkerchief. If the plume is up the sleeve, then a handkerchief is required. Spread the handkerchief over the hand, as if showing there is nothing in it, and seize the end of the plume through it with the other hand. Draw the handkerchief smartly away with the plume inside it, and throw both on the floor. If the plume is in the pocket, then borrow a hat and slip the plume into it. The plume will curl round inside the hat, and remain firmly fixed, so the hat can be turned brim downwards without fear of the plume falling out.

These preliminaries concluded, proceed as follows: Touch the tube with the wand and say you have taken out the plume, which you then "pass" into the hat or handkerchief, as the case may be. Now touch the vase with the wand, and say that you have removed all the seed, which you then command to go into the tube. Vanish the egg, or whatever it may be that you use, down a trap, and "pass" it into the vase. Nothing then remains but to open the tube, and to show the vase and handkerchief or hat. Millet is by far the best seed to use. It is light, and its spherical shape causes it to run smoothly. A conjuror, who was experienced enough to know better, persistently used rice for this trick. The result was extra delay, for the rice generally managed to clog somewhere, and always made a tell-tale rattling as it trickled into the foot. It made one tremble to look and listen. The trick is very easily managed, and creates a remarkably pretty effect. The conjuring shops supply the apparatus.

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