Magic Trick: Fiery Hands, Writings, etc.

With the aid of phosphorus a very innocent dark séance can be given. The principal thing is to have the gas under control. This lowered, or turned completely out, for preference, the rest is easy enough. Bunches of cotton wool, or tow steeped in phosphorescent spirits, obtainable at any chemist's, placed upon the ends of fishing rods, create a good effect when protruded over the heads of the audience, and there waved about in circles. A washleather glove, stuffed with cotton wool, tied to the end of a rod, and wetted, is diverting, not to say alarming, when dabbed suddenly in the face of one of the audience. Imagination will fancy it the clammy hand of death. Care must be taken to withdraw it very suddenly. The best way is to have it swinging from the end of the rod, when it retires out of reach of a possible "grab" by virtue of its own impetus. The glove must not be phosphorescent. Japanese fishing rods, with the joints sliding one within the other, will be found very useful. A good effect is produced by the performer allowing himself to be tied to a chair, to which his arms are firmly bound, and the knots sealed by the audience. His assistants, having first removed their boots, can come on and manage everything, and, as a final effect, one of them has some words or characters written upon his arms and hands, or simply has them smeared with the phosphorescent preparation in use. He then kneels behind the performer's chair, which he must approach either backwards or with his coat on, and then extends his arms from the performer's shoulders. The form of the hands and arms will be seen, and it will appear as if the performer had loosened his arms and was exhibiting them in a fiery condition. So soon as the assistant is again out of sight the gas should be turned up, leaving the audience in a state of bewilderment. The most childishly simple things can be perpetrated in the dark, when the mind is by nature more easily imposed upon than it is at any other time. The simple expedient of someone coming on the stage in his stockings, after the room has been darkened, and, by turning back the sleeve, exhibit some words written upon the arm, is a very good illustration: it is impossible for an ordinary mind to divine how the sudden appearance of the writing in mid-air is managed. The arm must be extended horizontally before the sleeve is drawn back, and it must be kept so extended until the writing is again obscured. This is essential. The slightest expenditure of ingenuity and thought will produce other effects, which will vary according to circumstances and situations; whilst careful preparation will meet with its usual and deserved reward.

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