Peter Warlock

THE EFFECT of this book test could hardly be more straightforward. On a business card a member of the audience writes a number between one and a hundred, another a number between one and twenty and a third a number between one and five. Another spectator takes this card together with a slate, chalk and a chosen book, goes to the end of the hall or corner of stage. He looks up a page represented by the first number, a line by the second and a word by the third. When he has found the word at that point he writes it on the slate. Everything so far including the numbers on the card has been done without the performer having had the opportunity of obtaining any information. Asking the spectator with the word on the slate, to hold the latter in front of himself and concentrate upon the word, the performer takes another slate and after a moment's pause starts writing with a piece of chalk. The writing complete, the spectator is asked to turn his slate round and show the word. The performer turns his slate round as well and it is seen that both words are the same.

The effect in the main depends upon a rather subtle switch of the card used for the numbers. I say subtle, for at no time does the performer handle the card once it has gone to the first person for the one to one hundred number.


One slate measuring approximately nine inches by seven inches. This means that the bed of the slate should be about seven by four and a half inches. This is best made up. Quite an easy job using thin ply for the bed and stripwood for the frame.

One flap to fit the slate. This should be made of sheet tin (iron) and painted with blackboard paint to match the bed of the slate.

One larger unprepared slate.

Some pieces of chalk.

Two large business cards.

Four magazines of different sizes. One however should not measure less than eight inches by eleven. There are plenty of " glossies " about this size. This particular magazine is prepared as shown in the accompanying illustration. Four openings are cut at the points shown and in them secured by sellotape (Scotch tape) are fixed four strong magnets.

Now with all these items at hand you are ready to prepare the stage for the test.

On one of the business cards (actually a larger card could be used) put down in a column the numbers 1, 2 and 3. Now against each of these numbers place a number comparable with the choice given to the audience, i.e., against 1, place say 67, against 2, 15 and against 3, 5. Alter the slant of the numbers so that it would appear that more than one person had written them. Now take one of the magazines and look at page 67, line 15 and the fifth word in that line. Remember that word and make quite certain that you do not forget the book that it came from. Stack the four books in a pile with the faked book on top and the one with the remembered word in it, second from the bottom. Now place the business card, written side downard on the small slate bed and on top of it place the flap. The other business card with the numbers 1, 2 and 3 in a column goes on top of the flap. The larger slate, chalk and books are close at band.


Pick up the card and taking a pencil from your pocket, ask a spectator immediately to your right to place a number between 1 and 100 against the figure 1. Tell him that he is not to let you see what he has written. When he has completed the task ask him to pass the card writing side downwards to another member of the audience who is to write the number between 1 and 20, against the figure 2. He in turn passes it to the third person who places a number between one and five against 3. (If the audience is small it is suggested that one person places all three numbers on the card). Now come forward with the faked slate asking the third person to drop the card writing side down upon it, for as the performer adds, "it is most important that in no way should I have any access to information written on the card." The slate with the card on it is placed upon the table and another spectator is requested to come forward and assist. The four books are taken and and the position of the performer as he handles them is that the slate is on a table immediately to his left. With the spectator on his right he counts off the books from right hand into left which has the effect of bringing the faked book to the bottom of the pile and the book with the remembered word second from the top. The right hand takes the top two books leaving an unfaked and faked book in the left hand. An equivocal force is used at this point, the performer making certain that the two books in the left hand are eliminated first. They are placed down across the slate as shown in the illustration.

The action must be casual and with two books left in the right hand, the top one is passed to the left so that the one to be forced is in the right hand. With the spectator taking this book into his possession, the left hand holding its book moves down and picking up the two resting across the slate moves away and of course takes the flap and the card above it away with the faked book. All three books are placed upon a chair. To the spectator on the stage and to the audience the performer has never touched the card on the slate. Taking a piece of chalk and also the slate, the performer gestures towards the card and instructs the assistant to go as far from him as possible, read what is on the card apply it to the book and write the result upon the slate. The effect from the performers' point of view is almost finished. He has only to write the remembered word upon his slate to complete the effect.

A few points. Make certain that the spectator assisting is not sitting with the writers of any of the numbers. Don't use it with too intimate an audience or in too small a room. It is designed for a platform show where conditions are favourable. If you know the names of certain people in the audience an additional effect may be obtained by writing on the back of the prepared card the initials of somebody you will ask to come up and help you. In this way preface the effect by turning to this person and asking him whether he will help you in a moment or two. With the affirmative answer ask for his initials and write them on the back of the card which you intend passing out for the numbers. Needless to say the card between the flap and the slate bears similar initials upon the back. Make certain you retrieve the card from the helper. Perhaps the most definite way is after having written the word on your slate, you place it against a chair back or something similar. You then say, " you, sir, have written upon your slate, a word arrived at by the choice of three numbers written down by these three gentlemen here. Have you got the card with those numbers?" He hands you the card, and holding it with the left hand, gesture with the right, saying, " even had I known the numbers, I could not have hazarded your choice of book could I ? Now sir, turn your slate round and let us see the word you wrote." The left hand has placed the card upon the table." It is the word " says the performer,

"and you can see that I was completely in harmony with you for that is the same word that I wrote on my slate."


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