Magic Trick: The Wine-drinking Crystal Ball

The tube in the neck of a bottle, mentioned in the preceding trick, is a very effective and much-practised deception. In the present instance, the performer selects an opaque bottle with a deep "kick" in the foot, and has a tin tube fitted into its neck. The mouth of the tube is provided with a rim turning outwards, to prevent a total disappearance of the article inside the bottle. This rim should be nicely rounded, so as to fit the mouth of the bottle neatly, as it will not do for the audience to entertain the slightest suspicion of its presence. The bottle is three-parts filled with water, and the tube with red wine. The performer is provided with two clear white glass balls, a little over an inch in diameter, and one red one, of the same dimensions. These are concealed conveniently about the person. The trick is commenced by the wine being poured into glasses and handed round. Retiring to the table, the tube is extracted and "vested," or put elsewhere out of sight, and one white ball got into the hand. By means of the wand, this ball is magically produced. The performer then remarks that he wants two balls, and manufactures another by striking the one he has in the hand with the wand; the explanation given being that the original one has been cut in two. The reader will understand that the second white ball has been got down from concealment, and exhibited at the proper moment. Two balls are not really required for the trick, but the diversion is made for the sake of increasing the attention of the audience, and for giving the trick a general completeness. If he so pleases, the performer can proceed to rub one of the balls until it becomes as small as a pea, or as large as an orange: all that is required is to be provided beforehand with balls of the necessary sizes. The ball which is supposed to be undergoing the compression or expansion can be easily palmed in the right hand, the fingers of which are engaged in shaping the latest arrival by rolling it in the palm of the left hand. To get it back to its original size from the tiny one, the small ball has only to be concealed between the roots of the third and fourth fingers (Fig. 25). To get it back from the large size, place the large ball upon the table over a trap, and, after admiring it as a splendid production on your part, pretend to take it in the hands, trapping it. After much hard squeezing and rubbing, accompanied by expressions of doubt as to the success of your exertions, all enacted close to the audience, the original ball will be produced, it having been, of course, palmed the whole time. Give it to a spectator to hold, and then fetch the bottle. Whilst retiring get down the coloured ball and introduce it into the "kick," where keep it by means of the little, or any other convenient, finger. With the bottle in the left hand, return to the audience, and, taking the white ball from the person holding it, palm it at once, retiring a few steps as you do so, holding the fingers as though they contained the ball. If the palm be kept upwards, there is no fear of the ball slipping out of it, which it possibly might do—it being an awkward thing to hold firmly—were the fingers turned downwards. Explain that you are about to throw the ball into the air and catch it in the bottle. As the ball is considerably larger than the mouth of the bottle, this announcement will naturally be received with incredulity. You, however, with the hands as widely separated as possible, toss an imaginary ball into the air with the right hand, and affect to catch it in the bottle with the left. A vigorous shake given to the bottle will cause the ball held in the foot by the left hand to rattle, and the illusion of the catch will be perfect. Now say that, having got the ball inside the bottle, you must break open the latter in order to get the ball out, and turn round, feigning to look for a hammer. This will give you an opportunity for concealing elsewhere the ball in the palm. So soon as this is done, say, "Well, perhaps I shall only make a litter with the broken glass; so I will get the ball out in a more artistic manner. Whilst I am talking, though, I fear the little gentleman inside is making very free with the wine." Ask the ball how he is getting on, and advise him not to drink too much, &c., and then proceed to get him out of the bottle by striking the palm of the right hand on the mouth of the latter with considerable force. At the third blow or so, release the ball in the "kick," and it will fall to the ground with the appearance of having been forced through the bottom of the bottle. Call attention to the fact that it is red, and consequently, as you feared, must have been drinking the wine. To test this, pour out the contents of the bottle, which, being pure water, will cause the audience to be of your opinion, ludicrous though it may appear. After this, hand round both bottle and ball for inspection. It is a great mistake to omit showing the bottle, as the audience is invariably impressed with the idea that it has an opening in the bottom.

Instead of the imaginary catch, the bottle can be stood upon a table, and the ball passed into it by any ordinary "pass." The disadvantage attending this is that the ball is not heard to fall into the bottle, as in the other method. It is natural that a heavy ball falling into a bottle must make some noise on striking the bottom. Audiences, perhaps, are not sharp enough to remark the absence of this natural result, but there is no denying that the trick is rendered more complete with its addition. Besides, when placing the bottle upon a table, the ball in the "kick" would naturally be loose were not some method for preventing this to be adopted, and it would become a matter of great difficulty, if not an absolute impossibility, to raise the bottle again without revealing the real state of affairs. A little black wax in the apex of the "kick" serves to sustain the ball in a very satisfactory manner; but, in adopting this auxiliary, one has to dispense with what I consider to be a most necessary feature in the trick, viz., giving the bottle round for examination afterwards. The wax will tell an undeniable tale.

It is possible to vary this trick in many ways, quite according to the fancy of the performer. It is well, however, to be certain of palming and vanishing your ball quickly and neatly before attempting the trick at all, as everything depends upon this. If the white ball is observed to be still in your palm, no amount of rattling in the "kick" of the bottle, however seductively executed, will convince an audience that it has passed into the bottle.

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