Between Your Palms

Effect: After the Elmsley count, I would judge this trick as Mr. Elmsley's best known contribution to card magic. He conceived the trick after reading John Dickson Carr's analysis of "locked room" mystery plots. From that he devised this "locked room" mystery with playing cards. While a number of clever magicians (including the originator himself) have attempted to improve on its method, many believe that the original is still the best to date.

The performer removes a card from the deck and, without showing its face, places it between the palms of a spectator. Three car ds are then selected by other members of the audience. One of the participants signs the face of his selection. All three cards are lost in the deck after they have been noted.

The pack is riffled and one card flies invisibly from it to the side pocket of the performer's jacket. This card is shown and slipped between the first spectator's hands, joining the card already there.

The second selection is produced from the performer's inside breast pocket. This too is placed between the spectator's palms.

The third selection, the signed one, has yet to be produced. The performer asks the first spectator to separate his hands and return the two selections to their owners. This leaves him with one card— the card that was given to him before any selections were made. When he looks at its face he is shocked to find that this card is the signed selection. He has apparently been holding it the entire time.

Method: The method about to be explained is that published in 1952. However, while checking the text for this book, Mr. Elmsley devised a new story-presentation for the trick, a whimsical tale concerning "The Hermit of Moon Mountain". Therefore, the following description offers vintage Elmsley with a bright new label on the bottle.

One "stranger" card (that is, a card from another pack) must be added secretly to the deck. The handling is structured to avoid exposing the back of this card throughout the trick. Therefore, the back pattern needn't match, which leaves you free to use a borrowed deck, should you wish. Since the deck is rid of the stranger card long before the finish of the effect, no clue is left and the use of the extra card is made completely practical.

Load the stranger card onto the bottom of the deck at the outset of the trick. Turn the deck face toward you and spread through it (without exposing the back of the stranger card, if it varies with the pack in use). Look for the mate to the stranger, remove it from the deck without letting its face be seen and ask someone nearby to assist you.

"Will you hold your hands palms together, like this?" Get the spectator to hold one hand palm-up and place the other hand palm-down over it. "Now, if you would, I wish you to hold this card between your palms." Slip the card face-down between his hands. Placing the card in this manner permits you to position it so that later it will be convenient to slide other cards above and below it.

"That card represents the Hermit of Moon Mountain. Sometimes he was called the Hidden Hermit; for, though people visited him from time to time, they never saw his face. So will you take care that he stays hidden?

"I'll tell you more about the hermit later. But first I must have three cards chosen."

As you say this, take the deck face-down into left-hand dealing position and give it a casual cut. moving the stranger card to the center. Catch a left fourth-finger break below the card as the cut is completed, in preparation for a riffle force. Approach a second person and ask her to call stop as you riffle your left thumb down the corner of the pack. Stop as she instructs you mid bring your right hand pahn-down over the deck. Apparently lift the block of cards released by the thumb from the deck, but in reality let the thumb's break silently close and simultaneously cut away all the cards above the fourth finger's break.

Tip the face of the right hand's packet toward the spectator and ask that she remember the card. This is of course the stranger card, a duplicate of which lies between the first spectator's palms.

As you replace the upper portion on the lower, control the stranger card to the bottom of the deck with either a pass, a Kelly-Ovette bottom placement (see Volume I of this work, pp. 261-263; or Tarbell Course In Magic, Vol. 3, pp. 184-187) or a side steal to the bottom {Tarbell Course in Magic, Vol. 3, pp. 183-184).

Ask another person to take part by also choosing a card. Again riffle your left thumb down the corner of the deck until he stops you. This time the choice is fair, so make the most of it. Lift off the upper portion and show the spectator the card he has stopped you at. As you reassemble the halves, control this selection to the bottom, under the stranger card.

Fan the face-down deck (keeping hidden the back of the stranger card second from the face) and have a final selection drawn by a fourth spectator. Ask that she place her name or initials on the face of the card before returning it.

While she is doing this, cut the deck to center the two selections. No break need be held if the back of the stranger card is discrepant. Then fan the deck while tipping it up so that only you can see the backs. Spot the stranger card and adjust it in the fan so that its white border alone is exposed. While making this adjustment, create some small irregularity in the fan just above or below the stranger card that will allow you to locate it quickly.

By this time the spectator should have completed the signing of her card. Take it from her, holding it face-down, and insert it into the fan immediately above the stranger card. Leave the signed selection protruding for about half its length and close the fan into the left hand.

Now push the card flush, but also angle it so that the right rear corner breaks through the right side of the pack. Contact this corner with the tip of the left fourth finger and pull down on it while pushing it square. This forms a break just above the three selections. Bring these to the top with either a pass or a shuffle. The signed selection is now on top; under it is the stranger card; and under that the second selection.

As you square the deck, obtain a break under the top two cards. Then turn to the first spectator and say, "I hope your hands aren't too tired from holding the hermit all this time. Please keep him safe." As eveiyone's attention is directed to the spectator, palm the top two cards of the deck into the right hand.

Turn now to the person who made the first selection—the one on whom you forced the stranger card—and say, "Now, your card, and yours [this to the person who chose the second card] are going on a journey. First, your card travels here." Place your right hand in your right-side jacket pocket. "Will you please name the card you selected." During her response, release the two palmed cards and immediately catch the one farthest from the palm (the stranger) at the fingertips. While it is still in the pocket, turn the face of this card outward. When the card is named, draw it half from the pocket, letting enough of its face be seen for it to be clearly identified. Then lower it back into the pocket and quickly exchange it for the other card there (the signed selection).

"Then it travels to visit the hermit." Immediately bring the signed card from your pocket, back outward, letting it be thought to be the selection just shown. Have the first spectator separate his hands just enough for you to slip this card face-down beneath the card already there.

The second selection is waiting on top of the deck for its appearance. You may reveal it in any manner you wish. Mr. Elmsley often palms it in his right hand, then produces it from his inside breast pocket.

"And your card travels here____Then it too travels to visit the hermit." Having produced the second selection, display the card and again have the first spectator separate his hands for you to slip the card between them. Place the card on top of the two already there. The trick is now accomplished. However, the positions of the three cards between the spectator's palms are not what he believes them to be. A little time misdirection is necessaiy then, to help him forget the positions of the selections. Our story provides just the thing.

"I must tell you more about the hermit. He lived in a cave on Moon Mountain, and though he never left his cave, many people came to him for advice. They were amazed, not just by his wisdom, but by his knowledge of all that happened in the world.

"Of course, those who visited him could tell him about the world outside Moon Mountain, but his knowledge went further than that. Some thought that, though his body never left the cave, his spirit wandered the world, listening and watching and learning.

"Now you and you have visited the hermit, in the form of your cards." Here you address the two spectators whose cards have been produced.

Ask the first spectator to separate his hands, turn up the top card and give it to the spectator who chose the second card. Then have him turn up the next card. It is the first selection. Ask that he hand it to its owner.

Turn to the spectator who signed her card. "But you, miss, have you ever visited the hermit? Or do you think his wandering spirit might have visited you?"

The first spectator is still holding a card. That card is believed to be the one given to him at the very beginning. Turn to him and say, "For the first time, will you show us the face of the Hermit of Moon Mountain."

When he turns it up it is seen to be the signed selection. As is always the case with magic that occurs in a spectator's hands, the reaction to this discovery is all one could desire.

June 28, 1952

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