Those nomads of Normandy with their descendants upon descendants can keep the secrets of Romany chiv unto themselves. It isn't given to our races ever to fully understand the words and thoughts of that ever-travelling tribe. Superstition has it that these people possess powers of unlimited value. Ifodern gullibility keeps that legend alive. '.Vanderers, yes. Soothsayers in reality, no. However, who are we to fly in the face of opinion? As we cannot defy such a person on this spot and at this moment we can but try to outdo him or her by presenting a means ftfr the answering of questions and the revelation of thoughts which will far outdistance any idea yet to be received from a gipsy clan.

There was a time, about twenty years ago, when the art of crystal-gazing was very dominant upon the vaudeville stage. Audiences of that era sat enthralled while the "master mind" looked into a glass ball and gave answer after answer, ad nauseum, to queries written by the customers who either were actually troubled or highly interested. Redundant as that may sound, it's true. Magic magazines of that period abounded with ads clamoring for $100 to $200 as a reasonable return for a trunk-full of gadgets plus a twenty odd paged mss., the possession of which would assure the buyer's success in the theatrical field.

Tim», like trouble in the hearts of men, marches on. The crystal ball, with hand-box reader beneath; the nickle-plated sphere (they didn't have crowium then) with a cog-wheel controlled spinning band inside; the pedestal prompter with its pulpit appearance; the various electrical devices (direct contact and induction) from carpet to turbans all of these »'means to an end" have had their day along with the change baskets, the mirror bowls, and the end-for-end ladles - gadgets to

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secure the information and make it ready for material passage through the first mentioned devices to the omnipotent man on the stage.

SAd, as tiaw marched on, audiences became more acute and sensible. While "mediums"/'fortune-tellers", and "psychics", still abound in private consultation shelters, the stage "seer" has had to find honest work. All of which finally brings us to a point. Question answering, plus the revelation of supposedly unknown thoughts, WHEN KEPT WITHIN REASONABLE LIMITS OP TIMS, can be a very important part of a later day magician's program. And we mean the program of a performer who entertains platform, social, and club types of audiences.

Rather than give a cold effect followed by a "you see?" method, let's just follow through with our ideas for giving patrons a truly mysterious interlude.

Probably the oldest and most misused method of answering or revealing written thoughts is that which aakes use of the "one-ahead" system. Despite its age we shall try hard to show that the operator is at fault rather than the procedure.

The performer has questions and notations written noon cards which are sealed inside envelopes provided. They are collected upon a tray by the miracle-man's assistant and placed on a table or in a bowl in full view.

Singly, the master-mind picks up these envelopes and, with each held openly before him, proceeds to answer the question or reveal the thought encompassed within. In every Instance the material object Is returned to its owner immediately after the revelation.

Before now, the performer has had to resort to "faking" a first question answer and use the "one-ahead" jnethoa of reading a query as a "check-up" while actually getting knowledge of the next one. Such a procedure always has entailed the necessity of keeping the messages until the end, when they, in a jumbled bunch, might be returned.

Obviously, the performer cannot return each question envelope and card as answered. Time is the preventative. BUT, a helper, an assistant, can, unnoticed, return writing after writing to the owners while the center of attraction,I.e. the performer, carries on his work without a slack in Interest, we hope.

Oar main solution is dependent upon that assistant. Audiences watch the nan dominating the stage. They pay little or no attention to the "help". Let us suppose that the performer knowB the contents of one envelope among th« lot. We'll get to that "angle" later. While the "master-mind" may "know" the "insides" of one envelope, that which he holds in view contains unknown possibilities. He "answers" the known question. As he finishes he tears open the envelope and, apparently, reads aloud the query therein. Actually, he remembers what he sees and uses it as the NEXT problem.

Before now these envelopes and contents have had to be kept on stage. We want to have each written and sealed question returned to its owner after the answer has been given. If the performer cannot do it, the assistant can. If the performer cannot practically make an exchange of questions,so that the spectator Just satisfied gets back his own writing which was read by the performer previously, the assistant can. By that premise we deceive.

Not to worry about an assistant's prowess or "sleight" ability, we build a tray upon which he Or she first collects the written thoughts and later returns them to their writer» one by one. This tray's peculiar property la that it can change a dropped on envelope for another, and immediately change the next one dropped on for the one secreted before.

Simply constructed of ply wood, the trey is not mechanical, its value depending upon the assistant's handling. It is rectangular in shape and about 6 x 10 inches in size. Around the edge is a narrow siding which gives an inside depth of about 5/8th of an inch. The tray surface is covered with a well glued on piece of wall paper of striped or squared design. On this is glued a sheet of transparent cellophane and all dried under pressure.

Next secure a piece of tin as wide as the inside tray dimension but only half as long. Punch small holes (use the end of a nail) in the extreme corners of the tin, and, using small finishing nails together with four bits of wood or metal bushings not over 3/8th of an inch high between the tin sheet and tray bottom, secure the metal to the end of the tray. Lastly sandpaper the tin well and cover It with wallpaper to match that on the tray proper,followed by a surface of cellophane. Paint the edge of the tray, inside and out, using a contrast color to the wallpaper.

If an envelope is laid on the tray proper and the tray is then tipped, the smooth surface allows the envelope to slide under the tin fake and out of sight. As the tray is never examined, or even seen (surface) at close range, this preparation has been found the most practical for the purpose.

With the performer knowing the contents of one message the procedure is Carried out thusly: the assistant collects the writings, taking the first received and dropping it across the compartment opening whereupon all others are deposited upon the tray at random. Knowing which spectator's envelope is "the one" he easily keeps it to one end of the tray, the unprepared end, of course. Then, when he returns to the front or stage, and dumps the tray's contents into a bowl or on a table, this one envelope is left behind and is tipped into the slot.

While the performer finishes his talk, or experiment used to take up the time during the writings, the assistant retires or makes himself inconspicuous for the purpose of merely tearing the end off the stolen envelope and keeping it at the unprepared end of tray where his thumb can hold it against the bottom as he-holds the tray at his side in the same manner as does a hotel bell-hop when he wanders around with a message for someone.

The performer picks up any envelope, holds it to his forehead, and hnswars that which he already knows. He tears open the envelope as he is concluding and reads the card inside. The card is replaced and at this moment the assistant presents the tray so that the writing may be returned directly to the person who has acknowledge his whereabouts. The performer drops the envelope on the tray's unprepared end and as the assistant steps away he drops the tray to his side and goes into the audience. The message just read drops into the slot and the original one under the thumb is retained. The spectator removes hi6 envelope from the tray. And on the return trip the assistant need tip the tray but a little to bring out the concealed envelope into the "under-thumb" position in

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