The Enchanted Basket

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The Story Translated by Wilfrid Jonson


Five cards with pockets as Figure 1.

One card with pocket as Figure 2.

Sixteen thin cards without preparation but slightly shorter and thinner than the above.


Place flat down on the table, the card with Figure 2 pocket, containing three thin cards.

On this, three Figure 1 pockets each containing three thin cards, one pocket containing one thin card and lastly the remaining pocket containing three thin cards.

It is very important that the thin cards do not fit tightly into the pockets, and slide easily (fanning powder can be used to advantage).


There are evidently several ways of sho ving the cards one by one to the audience when counting. Two different ways are used and are indicated by (A) and (B) in the text.

(A) Show in the left hand with faces of cards towards the audience and lightly form a fan of the six " pocket cards." (The nearest card to the spectators will be at the right of the fan). With the right hand take the pocket nearest the audience and count " one."

Take one by one the next four and count "two, three, four, five." Keep them all in the right hand without disturbing the original order but make the fan a big one. And moving the sixth card remaining in the left hand you count

"six " in passing it to the front of the fan which you now close. So only the last pocket has changed its place.

(B) Show in the left hand, with faces towards the audience and make a small fan (the nearest card to the audience at the right of the fan) of the six pocket cards.

With the right hand take the pocket nearest to the audience and count " one." Take one by one the next four, counting "two, three, four, five." Keep them in the right hand in forming a large fan, but reversing the order in doing so; that is to say the second card goes in front of the first, the third in front of the second, etc. And moving the sixth card remaining in the left hand, put it in front of the fan which you close. So all the cards are now in the reverse order to what they were before counting.

Cards which are discarded are always those at the back no matter whether they are thin cards or empty pocket cards.


Your packet of cards should be carried in a small basket. Monsieur Treborix has in mind a " bourriche," a type of basket that would be strange to most people in this country. The ideal article is a child's gardening basket which can be obtained at most good quality toy shops or a large store.

Once upon a time, far in the country near Quackville, there lived a farmer who, they said, was bad, bad, bad (don't they say that about all the men?) and his wife, who said she was good, good, good (as all wives say they are). And every week, on market day, the farmer went to town, taking a basketful of young poultry and bringing back the household supplies.

One day then, when it was market at Quackville, the farmer set off, early in the morning, carrying six pretty little twin ducks to sell, all quacking one against the other. (A) And a poor old woman by the roadside called out: " My good man, your ducks look very tender. It would be very charitable if you gave me one for my Sunday dinner." The old woman looked so poor and so thin that you would think she had never eaten a duck in her life. The farmer had pity and, in spite of the thought that his wife would give him a fine talking to that night, when she checked his accounts, he smiled kindly at the poor old thing and gave her one of his birds, saying, "Here you are mother, and good appetite."

His good deed was at once repaid : " I can do nothing for myself," said the old woman, " but I have the power to cast a spell for the benefit of whoever should willingly help me, as you have done. Go to market and sell three ducks, but three only, and every week you will be rewarded as you will be to-day."

Without thought for a promise to which he attached little importance the good man pressed on and, arrived at the market opened his basket. What a surprise : Although he had given a duck to the poor old woman he still had one, two, three, four, five, six to sell: (A).

They were good and not too dear. He quickly sold one, two, three . . . but he remembered the old woman's words, " Three ducks only." He stopped his sale, made his purchases, and set off for home. He had not gone far when the unusual weight of his basket made him open it. He realised then that the old woman had not deceived him in talking about a reward : he still had one, two, three, four, five, six ducks as in the beginning (A).

Needless to tell you that he was badly received that evening, for his wife would not listen to his queer story, and rolling pin in hand she gave him what for!

Next week the farmer went again, with the same load. He sold one, two, three ducks and came back, bringing, besides his purchases, as many ducks as he had taken (A). His wife, who had seen him off in the morning and counted his ducks, was so surprised that tthe forgot to scold him, but she resolved to watci closer next time. And that is why, a week later, Uleging an urgent errand, she went with her husband to Quackville.

As soon as they arrived he sold one, two, three ducks and went off to make some purchases, leaving the basket in her care. And of course, as soon as his back was turned, she hastened to open the lid, and observed with joy that the magic spell had done its work: again there were one, two, three, four, five, six (B). " This is first rate," she said, "Why not profit by it. Since the basket always refills there is no need for so much fuss. I will sell three more, which will at once be replaced. My stupid husband will know nothing about it and I shall buy a few things for myself." No sooner thought of than done ... at once she sold one, two, three ducks. But, vexation and botheration, in vain she opened the basket, looked again and again, there were no more, definitely, than the last three little ducks (A).

" Your trick is worthless," she grumbled to her husband. " That witch lied to you. She's a thief." He tried hard to make her see that it was proper to sell only three ducks each week, she would listen to nothing, and the poor man, under the bantering eye of the gossips, returned sadly to the farm.

But a week later he set out again, alone, for, said his wife, " I shall not go with you again. You disgraced me enough last time!" Enchanted by this agreeable decision he made his little trade with faithfulness and, as in all the remaining weeks which God allowed him, he took that day six ducks (B), sold only three, and brought home six.

And instead of many children, soon he had around him a great multitude of pretty little Quack-quacks.

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