One Poor Lion

Effect: The performer removes all the aces, kings, queens and jacks from the deck and performs a surprising multiple transposition with these cards. The transposition is made intelligible and entertaining by a moral tale about four lions and their postponed dinner.

Method: The effect is indirectly derived from Charles Jordan's "Like Seeks Like", a trick marketed in 1919. (See Charles T. Jordan: Collected Tricks, pp. 87-88; and Encyclopedia of Card Tricks, Hugard revision, p. 344. For more information on this plot, also see "New Pieces to an Old Puzzle", pp. 280-283 in this volume.) Its immediate inspiration was E. G. Brown's 'The Military Problem" (ref. T. H. Hall's The Card Magic of Edward G. Brown, pp. 106-114). While the Brown trick provided Mr. Elmsley with his starting point when he tackled the problem in the early 1970s, the presentation and method grew into something wholly different from their sire.

Such multiple transposition effects can easily become muddled to an audience when performed without a lucid and interesting presentation. Mr. Elmsley employs an amusing story, which he developed from a cartoon he ran across in an 1875 issue of Punch The cartoon depicted an adult relating a spiritually uplifting legend to a group of children. The caption read, "There was one poor tiger that hadn't got a Christian," Bowing to popular mythology, Mr. Elmsley transformed the tigers into lions for his tale, which he carefully constructed to clarify for the audience the action of the multiple transposition, all in an entertaining fashion. The illusion created is so persuasive, you will probably fool yourself if you follow these instructions with cards in hand.

Remove all the aces, kings, queens and jacks from the pack and set the balance aside. Group the four cards of each value into a separate pile and alternate the colors of the kings, queens and jacks. The sequence of the suits is not important. Do this sorting and arranging as quickly as you can, while you introduce the effect, and set the four groups of cards face-up on the table.

'This is a story of Ancient Rome, in the days when they used to throw Christians to the lions. Here are four Christian men \lay down the kings], four Christian women [lay down the queens] and four Christian children [lay down the jacks]-, and these are the lions [indicate the aces],

"Will you shuffle the lions, please?" Hand out the aces for someone to mix. "Good. That exercise must have given them an appetite. Will you now deal the lions face-down into a row.

"Now I want you to throw the Christians to the lions. Pick up any packet, turn it face-down and drop it onto any one of the aces...and again...and once more.

"Do you know which Christians you have given to which lions? Let's check." For the next sequence of actions you must fit the patter to the situation. We will assume that the first packet holds the ace of clubs and the four queens. With the palm-down right hand, pick up the first packet on your left, holding it by its ends. Turn the hand palm-up to expose the ace on the bottom of the packet. "Here is the ace of clubs—the lion of clubs..." With the palm-down left hand, grasp the face-up packet by it left side, taking it in a fingertip pinch grip. Release the right hand's grasp and revolve the left hand palm-up, turning the packet face-down.

"...and the one, two, three, four Christian..." Here you seemingly count the top four cards into the right hand. In reality you perform a five-as-five ghost count (see pp. 54-55), but retain the fifth card in your left hand. Set this last card face-down on the table, where the pile previously rested. This, the audience should believe, is the ace just shown.

Flip the right hand's packet face-up into the left hand, keeping the cards reasonably squared to conceal the ace at the back, "...women." As you complete your sentence, thumb over the queen on the face, take it into the right hand, and pause briefly. Then flip the left hand's packet face-down, place the right hand's queen face-down on top of the packet, and drop the four cards onto the previously tabled fifth card, letting the packet overlap the inner end of the card. On paper this sequence may seem somewhat ponderous; however, in practice the actions flow smoothly together and take but a few seconds.

Pick up the next pile from the table and expose the ace at the bottom. "The lion of diamonds...and the one, two, three, four Christian...children. "We will assume that this pile contains the ace of diamonds and the four jacks. Perform another interrupted five-as-five ghost count with the packet and repeat the subsequent display and displacement sequence just taught.

"The lion of spades...and the one, two, three, four Christians you threw to him were the four Christian men." Display the ace at the bottom of the remaining pile and repeat the actions used with the previous packets, substituting a king for the ace. At this point the row of four cards and the three offset piles lie arranged as shown in Figure 21.

"And the odd one out was the lion of hearts." Turn over the fourth ace, which has no cards resting on it, and leave it face-up in place.

"Now this poor lion didn't have any Christians. But the other lions, being kindly beasts, volunteered to contribute. The lion with the four Christian women gave him one woman." Pick up the first pile, leaving the card thought to be the ace of clubs on the table. Turn the face of the packet toward yourself, as if checking the identity of the cards before you name them. You are holding three queens with an ace positioned third from the face. While keeping the face of the packet tipped toward you, take the cards into left-hand pinch grip, ready for an Elmsley count. Then lower the hands, beginning the count just as the faces of the cards come into the audience's view. The Elmsley count hides the ace while bringing it to the top, and the proper ratio of red and black queens will be displayed. True, the first queen is seen twice, but because the count was begun on a downswing, the repetition will elude even the most neurotic card player.

As soon as you've completed the count, flip the packet face-down into your left hand and deal the top card onto the face-up ace of hearts. Drop the balance of the packet squarely onto the card it previously overlapped.

"The lion with the four Christian children gave him a child." Pick up the second pile of four cards and perform the Elmsley count as explained above to show four jacks. Then turn the packet face-down and deal the top card onto the face-up ace pile.

"And the lion with the four Christian men gave him a man." Repeat the previous display and dealing sequence with the pile of kings.

"This lion had come across Christians before—his cousin had once had a thorn removed from his paw by one—and they all got into a conversation; and during this conversation the Christians happened to mention that they didn't want to be eaten.

"This surprised the lion, but he offered to see what he could do; and in a very short time it had all been arranged. Here were the four Christian women...here were the four Christian children...here were the four Christian men., .and here of course were the four lions." As each group is named, turn up the appropriate pile and spread it on the table, revealing the congregation of each value to its own kind.

"And the lions didn't go hungry either. They ate the interfering do-gooding lion who had lost them their dinners."

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