Magic Trick: The Distribution

The gratuitous distribution of bonbons, flowers, &c., from a hat is, owing to the expense entailed, hardly such a favourite variation of this trick with professionals as with amateurs—that is, with those very few amateurs who are able to execute it with any degree of success. It requires an unusual amount of sang froid and boldness, combined with a perfect dexterity. When I can obtain nothing else, I use bonbons, but they are not the best article to employ, on account of their bulk. The sweets known as "kisses"—pieces of toffee wrapped in gold and silver paper—and gelatine bags of sweets are far more showy, as so many more can be introduced at a "load." The performer must have either some black silk bags or else some pieces of black silk, in which the articles are packed and tied with the thinnest cotton or silk, which need only be just strong enough to keep all together. Three or four little parcels should be made up and stowed away inside the vest and in the breast pockets of the coat, where they can be reached without difficulty. The performer then advances, with an orange or similar article concealed in the hand, and borrows a hat. The hat is quickly taken in the hand containing the orange, and shaken, with the remark, "Why, you have left something inside, sir." The shaking is to prevent the article falling on the crown of the hat with a thud, which would too plainly reveal the moment of its introduction into the hat, which is then inverted, thereby causing whatever may be inside to fall out upon the floor. All eyes, including more particularly your own, will be turned towards it, and you seize the opportunity to introduce one of your packages into the hat. The action of stooping to see what it is that has fallen will naturally cause the hat in the hand to come against the breast. The other hand is then introduced beneath it, and the bundle slipped noiselessly in. The instant this is done, obtain possession of the orange, and be as funny as you can about it with the owner of the hat. You then discover other things in the hat, and just before one bundle is exhausted introduce another. The most extraordinary expedients will at times have to be resorted to for accomplishing this, varying according to the position in which the performer is placed. One movement that should always be tried is a rapid three-quarter turn on the heel, during which a bag is whipped in. Another ruse is to allow the wand or some of the contents of the hat to fall, and so obtain a momentary diversion whilst stooping for them. Any approach to hesitation will be fatal. When a fresh supply has been obtained, turn the hat upside down, supporting the contents with the fingers, and, shake it, thus appearing to show it empty. A splendid ruse to adopt at such a moment, in order to intimate that the hat is still empty, is to apparently read out the name of the maker (which you have previously noted), and say that you will go to him in future for your hats. Should there be no name, say you are sorry, as you wanted to know where such curious hats are to be bought.

The introduction of flowers from the performer's person is not advisable, it being impossible to keep them from being crushed. They are best introduced from the shelf, and for this purpose the following little arrangement will be found useful: Procure a tin or zinc cylinder, about two inches in diameter, and two inches long. Around the outside of this have affixed a number of small cylinders, each capable of admitting the stalk of a flower. Such an article will hold some thirty flowers at least, or even tiny "button holes" can be employed. Round the cylinder pass some wire, a portion of which form into a loop. The whole arrangement can then be suspended at the back edge of the table, or behind a suitable chair. By having some packs of cards introduced into the hat in the first instance, an excuse for going to the table or chair is obtained. Packs of cards make a great show when the hat is tossed vigorously about, so that some of the contents fly in the air and out on the floor. The last few can be taken out by the hand and thrown in the air in such a manner as to flutter as much as possible between the audience and the hat, which is, at the same time, brought into the position favourable for getting the flowers into it. The wire loop is easily found by the fingers, and, on the hat being brought backwards, when the table is used (forwards, with the chair), the bouquet is easily introduced. The cylinder arrangement is often made much larger than two inches each way, but no very increased effect is thereby obtained—certainly not sufficient to compensate for the augmented difficulty in getting rid of the article after it is done with. When made of the size I have given, it is simply concealed in the hand, as are the bags or pieces of silk in which the cards, &c., have been wrapped.

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