AN ACT FOR TWO PERSONS PETER WARLOCK
(Continued from previous issue)
WITH THE conclusion of the third test, ' The Quintuplets,' the cards are gathered up and placed in the wastepaper basket. The audience is then prepared for the fourth test which we call
Each spectator is handed a visiting card bearing a number corresponding with the number of the chair on which he or she is seated. To the Psychic Lady is given a piece of wood to act as a writing surface. Attached to this board by means of a length of string is a pencil. The performer explains that the Lady will endeavour to send a specific thought to each of the three assistants. Whether they will be successful in accurately receiving thoughts only time can tell.
The card bearing the number ' 1' is now tak^n from the assistant occupying the relative chair and handed to the Lady who takes the pencil and writes something upon the card. When the writing is completed the presenter takes the card from her and turns to the spectator No. 1.
" On this card the Lady has written a three figure number. I am telling you this so that your mind can channel itself. Both of us will concentrate on this number when I give the signal word, 'Ready!'. The number which then flashes into your mind I want you to state aloud . , . .O.K.!" The assistant signifying that he understands, then awaits the signal word. During the short pause, the card held by the presentor is dropped into a glass bowl which rests on the table.
With the signal word given, the assistant answers with a number which for the sake of description we'll imagine is 379.
The assistant is now handed a piece of chalk and is asked to write this number near the top of the blackboard. When he has done this and the piece of chalk is taken back, he is thanked for his assistance and guided towards the rundown or steps. From there he then takes his place once more in the audience.
The card is now taken from the second assistant and handed to the Lady. Again taking the pencil she writes something. The card is now taken back by the presenter who after looking at it tells the second assistant that on it is the name of a city. This card too is dropped into the bowl and once more a similar procedure is gone through, the second assistant naming the city that comes into his or her mind when the signal word is given. We'll suppose that it is "San Francisco." The piece of chalk is handed to him and he writes underneath the first assistant's number the words, " San Francisco." The chalk is taken back from him and his helper is also returned to the audience.
The final phase of the test is to come. The third assistant is relieved of his card which is given to the Lady who once more writes. It is taken from her by the presenter, who, after glancing at it, drops it into the bowl.
" This test," says the presenter '* is the hardest of all. Up till now the Lady has projected two thoughts with the hope that the helpers who were here might be successful in receiving them. This time she hopes to control more than the mind. This pack of cards (At this point a pack of cards is taken and the faces fanned to the audiencc) is arranged in an order known to the Lady. I am going to spread them face downwards on this tray
and hold it in front of you. Place your hand about three inches above the cards at one end of the row. When I say " Ready" move your hand along the row still keeping your hand above the cards. Don't try to anticipate, but when you appear to receive some impulse allow the first finger of your hand to touch the card immediately beneath it. Is that fully understood?"
With an affirmative reply, the presenter, gives the signal word, and the assistant moves his hand across the cards. Suddenly his finger falls upon one, and this card, still face down, is pushed out of the spread. The remainder of the pack is gathered up and placed aside. Leaving the tray momentarily with the assistant the presenter now writes on the blackboard immediately under the name of the city a large question mark. " Just slip the card in your pocket for the moment, sir " says the presenter to the assistant, and with this the tatter is relieved of the tray which is then placed laside. Following this the writing board is taken from the Lady and replaced on the table.
" I want you now sir, to go to the bowl and take from it the card marked No. 1." The assistant moves across to the bowl and takes the card numbered 1. "The Lady" says the presenter " wrote something upon the card for the assistant seated in Chair No. 1. He was to make an attempt to receive this number when it took the form of a thought. The number he gave was 379 ! Please read out what the Lady wrote upon the card?"
The assistant reads out. " The thought I want you to receive is 379 ! " " The Lady," remarks the presenter " was successful with the first assistant," and then moving to the blackboard he scores through the number 379 with the piece of chalk
" Now, sir, take the card numbered 2. In this case the Lady projected in thought form the name of a city. The recipient translated this thought as " San Francisco." Please read out what is written on the second card ? " The assistant reads aloud. " My thought for you is San Francisco." Again the presenter scores through the words, 4 San Francisco.'
" Your test," says the presenter to the third assistant, " was the most difficult and your card lies in the bowl. The Lady tried to will movement in your case. Will you please remove from your pocket the card you touched and for the first time allow us all to see it?"
The assistant removes the card from his pocket and we'll suppose that it is the three of spades. With the chalk the presenter now writes on the blackboard. "The three of spades."
" Finally, sir, remove the card marked No. 3 rom the bowl and read what the Lady wrote fupon it ? " The assistant takes the card from the bowl and reads aloud, "I shall will you to touch the back of the three of spades." Turning to the blackboard the presenter scores through the words, * Three of spades.' Climax.
I have purposely given a deal of space in the description of this test in order that the main pointing is present when it comes to that part dealing with presentation. The handling and action throughout is most natural and the final climax is a good applause winner.
Four large visiting cards. A glass bowl large enough to hold three visiting cards side by side.
A piece of phalk (This is already to hand).
A rough and smooth forcing pack, the force card of which we'll suppose is the 'Three of spades.'
A writing board with pencil attached. This board is subjected to certain preparation which we'll describe under—
Obtain a piece of fibre board measuring seven inches by nine. You'll also want a piece of wood veneer, the kind which is mounted on paper so that it can be used for lining walls etc. A piece of this is cut to the same size as the fibre board. Half way down its length a cut is made with a sharp knife. (See Figure 1). The veneer is now glued on to the smooth side of the fibre board a space being left as shown in Figure 2.
Here in effect you have a pocket, a pocket whose edge is almost invisible if the job of glueing has been efficiently carried out. At the end of the board, opposite to the pocket, a small hole is drilled. This is to take one end of a piece of string the other going to the blunt end of a pencil.
On the blank sides of two of the visiting cards at one end, the reader using Indian ink, prints in reasonably large letters," CARD No. 3." Taking the other two cards he numbers these respectively CARD No. 1 and CARD No. 2.
On the same side as the number on one of the No. 3 cards, the message, " I shall will you to touch the Three of spades" is written in pencil. This card, writing side uppermost, is tucked into the pocket of the writing board so that just over half an inch of it protrudes. The writing board is placed pocket side uppermost on the table the rough and smooth pack in its case being placed on top of it so that the projecting part of the card is hidden. The three remaining visiting cards are placed on top of the card case whilst the bowl lies close to it on the table.
The numbered cards are taken and handed to the assistants. Those seated in the audience near to the presenter will also be able to see that there are numbers on the cards. When the cards have been distributed, the presenter turns back to the table, his left hand taking the board and the pack on it with his left hand. His right hand comes across and takes the card case, placing it on the table, and at the same time his left thumb comes across over the projecting piece of card hiding it. The board is then tilted pocket side away from the audience and handed to the Lady.
The card numbered ' one' is taken from the first assistant and handed to the Lady who rests it upon the board. She pretends to write and when the presenter moves across to her to take back the card she simply removes the Number three card from the pocket and hands it to him. He takes it, numbered and written side away from the audience, and drops it numbered side uppermost into the bowl. The distance and position of the table from the assistants on the stage makes it impossible for any one of them to see the number on the card.
Now the build-up takes place, the first assistant naming a three figure number. Additional effect can be obtained by the presenter, after the assistant has announced a three figure number, saying, " I am afraid that you've got one figure wrong, will you try once more?" The number given is then recorded on the blackboard and helper dismissed. As he writes, the presenter stands between him and the bowl so that once again there is no chance of the number on the card being glimpsed. If, however, the reader likes to play safe, the card can always be dropped number side down.
The second card is taken and the Lady starts writing. This time she actualls writes not upon the second card but upon the number one card which she retained. She gives the number stated by assistant number one. This card is then taken by the presenter and dropped into the bowl. Incidentally the bowl should be large enough to accommodate the cards side by side.
The second assistant now receives (?) his thought and after he has recorded it upon the blackboard he takes his seat. The third card is then taken and handed to the Lady. She simply slips it into the pocket, pushing it right down so that it is completely hidden and then writes on the second card the " City " thought. This is taken by the presenter and dropped into the bowl.
The nature of the final test is explained, the card case being taken and the forcing pack removed. The faces of the cards are casually shown and then the tray is picked up and the pack ribbon-spread across its surface. The assistant touches the back of one card and this he places in his pocket, the remaining cards being picked up and replaced in the case which is then dropped on to the table. In the pick up of the cards it is best to do this in such a manner that as many faces as possible can be glimpsed.
The rest is purely presentation, the climaxes being arrived at as previously described.
THE RIDDLE OF THE NUMBER
This, the final phase of the routine, is a prediction of a chosen telephone number. The means for accomplishing it are extremely simple.
At the moment a test has been concluded which has left the third assistant still upon the stage. Thank him and ask him to be re-seated. Explain to the audience that the Lady has shown them four phases of mental phenomena. Now comes a most important test, a test of prophecy. As the presenter speaks he picks up a slate and piece of chalk and hands them to the Lady who quickly writes something on the slate. Glancing at it the presenter places it writing side down upon the table.
Four London telephone directories are then introduced and one is chosen by the assistant, the three unwanted ones then being placed aside.
The assistant is further asked to open the directory chosen wherever he likes and finally two telephone numbers are chosen which are written upon the blackboard by the presenter. At this point the assistant is asked one final favour, namely to go down into the audience and approach any member of it he wishes. This person is to decide which of the two chosen numbers shall be the one to be used. Whatever the choice the slate is picked up to show that the Lady has been as accurate in prophecy as she has in all the remaining phenomena.
One slate with loose fitting flap. Four London Telephone directories (Never carry these unless you can help it for they are very weighty. Most places you will visit in the London area will have them. For those outside the London area however I think it better to bear the weight and that these massive tomes should be used rather than the spindly efforts which are so often to be found in smaller cities.
A special little gimmick which we'll describe under—
Do you remember an effect that aroused quite a lot of popularity before the War. I think it was called ' Wordo.' It consisted of a little mask carrying a hole. The idea was that this mask, after being placed on a page, was moved about until the spectator told the conjurer to stop. The word showing through the hole was one predicted by the conjurer. The ruse was simple, merely that a small piece of printed paper was glued behind the hole in the mask. In the second volume of " Mainly Mental" C. L. Boarde gives some space to this subterfuge and it is one of his versions that is used here.
Take a visiting card and cut from the centre a rectangular piece of such size that in length it measures the length of the telephone exchange and number and in depth three numbers. Now take a small piece of cardboard and with a piece of sellotape hinge it at the position shown in Figure 4.
On to the underside of this flap paste a piece cut from a telephone directory so that when the flap is down two numbers can be seen clearly as shown in Figure 5 whilst the top and bottom of the adjacent numbers can also be visible.
Now on the slate proper write the lower number, and to make it easy for the Lady place the flap on top and write on it in large pencilled figures the upper number. The slate, flap side uppermost, is placed on top of the four directories and providing that there is room these should be placed at the right hand side of the table. If not, an extra chair should be brought into play and used as a resting place for these articles.
The little card is placed in the presenter's pocket. The piece of chalk should be there too. If wearing tails use the waistcoat pocket, if dinner suit, in the right hand coat pocket.
The presenter outlines the test that is to take place which is to prove the illimitable powers of the Lady. He takes the slate and chalk and hands it to her. Slanting the slate towards her she writes over the pencilled letters and figures the first telephone number. She retains the chalk whilst the presenter, who takes back the slate, glances at it for effect, and then places it on the table flap side down. Just a word here. So that there can be an easy pick up of both slate and flap if need arises, and after all it is an even chance, the bed of the slate should overlap the edge of the table very slightly. One other point. If the flap has to be left behind, and let me mention it at this point that there is nobody other than the presenter and the lady on the stage at that time, it is impossible for it to be noticed unless the audience is positioned in such a way that they can look down on to the table. If such is the case rather than any attemps at trying to match the table I suggest that the side of the flap that is likely to be exposed should be covered with white paper and that at the point where the slate is placed down a few sheets of similar sized paper should be placed haphazardly. This method of concealment by exposing can be more effective than most attempts at matching.
The telephone directories are taken and handed to the assistant with the request that he chooses any one. When he has done this, the three unwanted ones are taken and replaced either upon the chair or table.
The assistant is then asked to open the •directory wherever he wishes. Whilst he is doing this, the presenter has removed the faked card and the piece of chalk from his pocket. " You'll want this piece of chalk in a minute," he says to the spectator." But now in front of you, you have a book containing many thousands of names and numbers. This little piece of cardboard will help as a guide in your choosing one or two of those numbers. You'll notice (and at this point the presenter takes the directory and places the card upon it, the hinged part being folded back allowing the assistant to see that up to three numbers just fill the small window) that three numbers just fill this little window. Just choose a column, sir?" As this is said the hand holding the faked card moves away from the page and the little flap is allowed to drop. At the same time the fingers of the hand cover the window.
The assistant indicates a column and the presenter places the card at the top so that the window is in line with the numbers. "As I move the card down, I want you to stop me whenever you wish." The assistant says, " stop ! " and with the card held in position the fingers move away from the window. " How many numbers can you see ? " the assistant is asked, and he answers " two." " Will you tell us what they are? " The assistant says aloud the two numbers he can see. "Will you write them on the blackboard please."
The assistant moves across to the blackboard, the presenter still holding the book. The numbers are written upon the blackboard. When this is completed, the presenter slips the card into his pocket and closes the directory placing it aside. The reason for keeping the book open is that should the assistant fail to keep both the numbers in his mind the presenter can look at the book and remind him.
The task of the presenter is to dissociate the means of selection from the ultimate effect. He thanks the assistant and then says :
" Sir you have chosen one telephone directory from a number. That directory was opened at any page by you and then in the fairest possible manner two numbers were chosen. These you have written upon the blackboard. One final thing I have to ask you and that is to return to the audience and approach any member of it. Will you do that please? "
The assistant steps down and walks up to a member of the audience. To this person the presenter says, " On the blackboard we have two numbers, yours shall be the final choice! Which one shall be the ultimate and which one shall I erase and forget?" The spectator indicates and taking a handkerchief, the unwanted number is rubbed out. " One number remains . . . FLAXMAN 2740. Taking the slate and either keeping or losing the flap, he holds it in front of him, with the writing side exposed. "One number from hundreds of thousands; don't you think it a little more than strange that the Lady has proved her powers of prophecy ! " The slate is then turned round and the number is revealed.
That concludes the routine and if well presented should bring far more kudos to the Lady than she deserves for each and every test is really a one man effect, the handling giving credit to the female partner who can learn all she wants to know in less than half an hour.
At the beginning I mentioned that the routine could be lengthened by adding other standard or published effects. Such lengthening would only arise where the performer was giving a fairly lengthy show and in which this phase would help to fill up the time.
The effects most suitable are:" The Giant Memory test" (This of course does involve some work on the lady's part, but well and speedily presented it is something that always makes a talking point with an audience.
"The Prophetress" (Patterns for Psychics) This is a prediction effect that could be substituted for the telephone test described. Actually the effect could be the same, the conditions even more stringent. As described, the need for a screen to place around the medium is essential.
" Mental Epic " or " Taped Slate " could be used as an alternative means for presenting " Caught Thoughts."
With a special type of audience a psychometry test based on the well known item of Annemann's would be effective and again for such an audience " Seven Keys to Bald pate " has points to recommend it.
Any of the items from " En Rapport" could also find a place though in these the part of the medium means a little more learning and concentration.
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