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   Magic Trick: Climax to the Hat of Plenty




When the performer has a stage attendant of average ability, he can conclude this or any other trick with a hat in a very startling manner. The hat is given to the assistant to return to its owner, and, just as he is leaving the stage, he stumbles, falling heavily upon the hat, and flattening it completely. The performer is of course in despair, and after a slight scene the hat is eventually restored, it being found under the owner's chair, or elsewhere. This exceedingly impressive and amusing trick makes a very appropriate conclusion to a performance, and is managed in two ways: Either the hat used in the preliminary trick is actually the property of a stranger in the audience, and is exchanged for the one to be destroyed, or a confederate brings it in with him, and takes his seat on a chair or sofa, beneath which his own hat has been previously concealed. In the first instance, the exchange must be adroitly managed. The excuse of going off to brush it, and returning immediately with the brush, is as good as any, although it will always be subsequently apparent to thinkers when the hat was exchanged, by whatever method the substitution is accomplished. I may say at once that this method is not so good as the second; but confederates are not always to be obtained when they are wanted. Sometimes the performer borrows two hats, and whilst he is producing something startling from one, his attendant quietly removes the other and substitutes for it a duplicate.

By whatever means arrived at, suppose the exchange effected, or, what is the same thing, the conjuror's own hat borrowed, and the assistant lying prone upon the floor. He must then rise slowly, with a rueful look upon his countenance, and, if any object, such as a tin cup, be lying upon the floor, he must abuse it as the cause of the disaster. The performer does not at first notice what has happened; when he does so, he is, of course, greatly enraged with the assistant, and assumes a very despondent look. He expresses his regrets to the owner of the hat, and asks if he would like the hat done up in a small parcel for convenience in carrying. Without waiting for a reply, he and the assistant tear the hat up to little pieces, some newspapers being produced and spread upon the table. On the shelf is a newspaper parcel containing a crinoline, a large doll, or anything else that is ludicrous in appearance. The shreds of what was recently a hat are wrapped in a piece of the newspaper, with the exception of one solitary piece, which is purposely allowed to fall upon the floor, on that side of the table opposite to where the conjuror is standing. When the parcel is made up, the performer notices this piece, and, leaning well over the table, points to it, at the same time, under cover of his body, effecting an exchange of parcels. The shred is rolled up, and a pretence made of putting it in the parcel (it is, of course, palmed), which is then given to one of the audience to hold over his head. A pistol is fired, and, if the hat be borrowed from a confederate, he is bidden to look under his chair, where, naturally, his own hat will be discovered. If, on the other hand, the borrowed hat be genuinely the property of one of the audience, it will be seen to fly across the stage and attach itself to the top of the proscenium, from whence it falls at the command of the performer, and is caught by him. This additional effect is managed by passing a black cord through a hole in the proscenium, and attaching it to the hatband by means of a very large loop. The end to which the hat is affixed must, of course, be removed from sight beforehand, the usual place being behind the proscenium. The construction of the place of performance will naturally have a good deal to do with this particular matter, and the performer must study what arrangements will be best. Wherever the hat is concealed, it must be thrown into the air when the pistol is fired, and the cord at once gathered in as rapidly as it is possible to do so. On the command for the hat to descend being given, the large loop is cut through, and the hat falls. If the cord were simply tied by a knot to the hat-band, a piece of it would remain attached after being cut away, and this would give a clue to the mystery. After the hat is safely restored, open the parcel and exhibit its contents.

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