Magic Trick: Bacchus' Dovecote

The performer advances with a bottle and glasses on a tray, and a dove on his shoulder. From the bottle he pours some wine, and then places it upon a side table. The dove is next wrapped in some paper, from which the tail is allowed to protrude, and the performer then jumps upon it or else burns it. On the bottle being broken, the dove is found inside.

The bottle is prepared by having the bottom knocked out, which can be easily managed with a hammer, smart taps with which have to be administered, in a circle. The hand holding the bottle whilst this is being done should have a glove upon it, in case of a breakage. A dove is put into the bottle, head first, through the bottom. This is rather uncomfortable for the bird, and I cannot bring myself to think that the latter likes it; but no bad results seem to follow the treatment, which should be rendered as gentle as possible. A tin tube is passed down the neck of the bottle, secured at the mouth by means of red sealing-wax, and then filled with red wine. On the table are spread some sheets of paper, on the margin of one of which are pasted some dove's tail feathers. The exhibited dove is placed upon the centre trap, and the performer pretends to wrap it in the paper having the feathers upon it. It is, instead, passed through the trap, and the paper rolled carefully up, as though the bird were inside. The protruding feathers leave no doubt of this in the minds of the audience. The ends of the paper should be screwed up tightly, and a little hole torn in the parcel, "to give the dove air." If, when placed upon the floor or table the paper should accidentally roll slightly, the performer must attribute it to the restlessness of the bird supposed to be inside, and apostrophise it accordingly. If crushed, it should be treated lengthways, so that the feathers are not afterwards observed, or the audience might think it only reasonable that the bird found inside the bottle should be minus a tail if he has left it behind him in the paper. It may seem very simple on their parts, but audiences never seem to doubt that the dove apparently wrapped in paper and the one found in the bottle are one and the same bird. There is no distinguishing mark on it to identify it, and everything tends to make one think otherwise; but never a doubt is raised. This circumstance should be very consoling to the conjuror. I have even seen two doves put into a drawer-box and two other doves made to appear at the other end of the room, and no one seemed to doubt for a moment that they were the same ones that had been just before put into the box.

Doves are most docile creatures, and accommodate themselves to circumstances in a remarkable manner. When passed through a trap, they never wander about and exhibit themselves at the corners of the shelf, or otherwise expose the performer's secrets. At times, though, they will start their peculiar call, but this happens very rarely. Most regular performers, whether professional or not, usually keep a pair of doves at least. They are very hardy, and soon become accustomed to being pulled about.

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