Magic Trick: Tricks with Rabbits

The gentleness and docility of the rabbit makes it, like the dove, a favourite with the conjuror, who does not hesitate to produce it from a hat, and to cause it to disappear from, and re-appear in, most unexpected places. The production of a couple of rabbits from a hat is always very startling, and requires a deal of doing. The animals are placed one in each of the large side pockets, where, if undisturbed, they will lie as peacefully as could be wished, and evidently perfectly contented with their lot. The success attending the transfer of the rabbit from the pocket to the hat will depend entirely upon the skill of the performer, and no middle course can possibly be admitted. It must be done well or not at all. The usual expedient of palming some article and introducing it into the hat directly it is taken into the hand will have to be resorted to, and the article should be of a startling nature. (A pack of cards does very well.) Whatever is put in must be emptied out on the floor, and, whilst stooping, or rather bowing slightly to see what it is, the performer brings the hat against his body and quickly introduces the rabbit into it. The animal must be helped in, as it were, by the body, and not dragged into the hat by the ears. So soon as it is in the hat, one hand should be placed under the crown, which, if not very strong, might otherwise be forced out by the weight of the rabbit. Produce the rabbit with all due affectation of surprise, and, whilst showing it about, allow it to fall. By the time it is picked up again, either by yourself or by a spectator, the second one is in the hat, and you express yourself anxious to know if the owner of the hat keeps a rabbit warren in it. So much for producing the rabbits.

A favourite and very effective method of conjuring with them further is to apparently rub one into the other. This is managed by the aid of the large centre trap. One rabbit is placed upon the table immediately in front of the trap, and the other pushed through the table behind it, a great show all the time being made of forcing one rabbit into the other. The remaining rabbit should be held up by the ears, with the rump resting on one hand, when, to the imagination of the audience, it will appear to be actually stouter than it was a few minutes before. The remaining rabbit you affect to wrap in a piece of paper, it being also passed through the trap, and the paper rolled up as though it really contained an animal, considerable agitation being communicated to it by means of the hands. The performer affects to lose patience with it because it will not remain quiet, and crushes the paper either beneath his feet or between the hands.

The reproduction of the rabbits (i.e., two duplicate ones) necessitates the employment of a rather elaborate piece of apparatus, unless the performer has a friend or two in the audience with rabbits in their pockets, the production of which has a good effect, but is seriously open to suspicion. The apparatus that is generally employed is a large glass vase or goblet, some eighteen inches or two feet in height, according to pleasure (or pocket). This has a zinc lining, in two halves, fitting exactly inside it, the halves being hinged to a slightly concave top, also of zinc. The hinges are on exactly opposite sides of the top. The whole is covered with glue and then spread over with bran. There is, besides, a large bell-shaped cover, usually of thin brass, large enough to conceal the body of the vase completely. In the centre of this, inside, is a catch, which is intended to pass through a hole made in the centre of the concave top of the zinc lining. The vase is prepared by having the zinc lining, previously loaded with two rabbits, put into it. It will then have the appearance of being full of bran, a quantity of which article is spread over the concave top. A raised rim round the hole in the centre will prevent the bran falling through. The vase is brought on by the assistant, and the performer takes some of the bran from the top and throws it off, and also thrusts a thin stick or wire through the hole to show that it goes quite to the bottom. He then shows the interior of the cover, that it may be seen to contain nothing, and places it over the vase, pressing it well down. The original rabbits are next manipulated at the table; and when that matter is settled the cover is raised, gently and slowly at first, and perpendicularly, bringing away with it the zinc lining, which opens as it ascends, and leaves the rabbits in the vase. The bran can be made to transfer itself into the drawer box, previously shown empty, if the same has not been before used during the evening. A much more effective and in every way a more preferable method is to cause it to make its appearance in a borrowed hat. This is best managed by giving the hat from which the rabbits were originally produced to the assistant to place upon the table. The performer at once engages the attention of the audience with the rabbits, saying that he will make the one eat the other, &c., and so enables the assistant to slip into the hat, whilst retiring, a bag of bran that is very loosely fastened at the top. This bag the assistant has had concealed under the coat. The hat is placed carelessly upon a side table, and the bran "passed" into it by the performer as if on an afterthought, so as to avoid any appearance of premeditated effect. The bran must be first emptied out, and the bag can be abstracted, rolled up in the hand, which is inserted for the purpose of clearing the lining of any stray flakes.

If the foregoing variations are all mingled in one trick the effect is very good; but the combination requires a deal of practice, and will prove trying at first.

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