Magic Trick: The Shower of Plumes

This is a trick requiring a great display of dexterity, combined with considerable boldness. The performer produces, from a large handkerchief, enough plumes, each nearly 2ft. in length, to cover the floor of an ordinary room. The plumes are rather expensive articles to purchase, but, when once obtained, form an excellent stock-in-trade. The method for producing them is to take off the coat, and then, grasping a large quantity by the lower ends in each hand, replace the coat. The compressible nature of the feathers enables a dozen or more plumes to be concealed up each sleeve. Care should be taken that they lie along the back of the arm. The performer, thus padded, comes on with a large silk handkerchief in his hands, but contents himself with remaining well at the back of the stage, and also refrains from turning his back to the audience. He waves the handkerchief to and fro, to show that it is empty, and then says that he will try and find something in it. To do this, he spreads it over one hand, and, with the other, seizes the end of one plume through it. At the same moment, with a sharp swift movement, the handkerchief and plume are withdrawn, the underneath hand falling to the side, assisting thereby in the withdrawal of the plume, and also keeping the ends of the remaining ones out of sight. The hand holding the handkerchief is inverted, and the plume will be revealed. Under pretence of removing this plume, the disengaged hand seizes another plume through the handkerchief, and withdraws it with the same movement which casts the one exhibited on the floor. The second one is then shown, and the process of drawing out another repeated from each arm alternately, the production of the plumes being made as rapid as possible, the motive being to bewilder the audience, who, if the performer does not make any blunder, will never imagine that they are concealed up the sleeves. It is as well to draw out a couple at one time once or twice, for the sake of extra effect, and, with the same object in view, have the plumes of several colours. Some should be all white, some all red, and others all blue, whilst another variety can be of two or even three colours. Never attempt to produce a plume until the handkerchief has fallen well over the arm from which it is to be drawn, and let the whole trick be executed with great dash. Sometimes larger plumes are placed round the body and drawn out from the vest, the handkerchief being spread over the chest for the purpose. The attendant who picks up the plumes should make the best show he can with them. Some performers place the plumes in fan-shaped vases or other receptacles, but the operation hampers the performance of the trick too much, and also leads to too many undesirable movements to be recommended. An excellent ruse is to conceal one plume beneath the carpet, with the end just through a hole or slit in the seam. The handkerchief is spread on the floor, and the plume produced. It is undoubtedly a very difficult trick to perform well, but it produces a great effect.

The trick may be performed, in a small way, by means of ostrich feathers laid inside the shirt sleeve, the coat sleeve being turned back.

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