Having turned the conversation to the subject of mind reading, an easy matter at the present time, ask permission to attempt an experiment of that nature. Explain that you have had some success with objects that can be pictured mentally and pretend to select with great care some person as concentrator and transmitter.
1. Hand him a pack of cards and have him shuffle it thoroughly, then instruct him to deal a row of five spot cards of differing suits and values. If picture cards or cards of the same value turn up, they are to be discarded.
Suppose that the row, when completed, consists of
9H 5S AD 3S 7C
Everyone must be convinced that these cards have been chosen by chance alone.
2. Take back the pack and invite the spectator to select, mentally, any one of the five cards and to concentrate deeply on its suit and value. In order not to be suspected of detecting the card by the direction of his gaze, turn your head away as he looks at them. When he announces that he has set his mind upon a card, turn the five cards face downwards as they lie, but in the meantime you have memorized their values, taking no notice of the suits, by saying to yourself, "Ninety-five, one thirty-seven." In memorizing figures always divide them into groups in this fashion; never try to remember separate figures.
3. In order to understand the following process of shuffling the cards, we should explain that its object is to place the five cards secretly at positions from the top of the pack corresponding with their values. Thus at the conclusion the ace of diamonds must be the top card, the three of spades the third card, the five of spades the fifth card, and so on.
To do this, assume a poker face, look steadily at the spectator, and pick up the nine of hearts (the card of the highest value of the five), its face towards yourself, letting no one else get a glimpse of it. Look at it gravely, then lay it on the top of the pack in your left hand.
Recalling that the next highest card is the seven of clubs, begin an overhand shuffle by running one card flush on top of the nine of hearts, injog the next card, and shuffle off. Undercut at the injog and throw on top.
4. Repeat your pantomime of studying the spectator's face as if to read his innermost thought, take up the seven of clubs, look at it, and then put it on the top of the pack. The next highest card being the five of spades, again you have to run one card flush, injog the next card, shuffle off, undercut, and throw on top.
5. Repeat the same process with the three of spades; but with the ace of diamonds, after placing it at the top, you must injog the first card, shuffle off, and undercut. When the undercut is thrown on top, the five cards will now be at the numbers from the top denoted by their values, and you are master of the situation. Needless to say, throughout the shuffling you have refrained from staring at your hands and have kept up a running fire of entreaties to your subject to concentrate upon his card.
6. Hand the pack to the spectator, addressing him somewhat after this fashion: "I have obtained from you a distinct impression of a certain card. If I were to name that card and you agreed that it is the one of which you are thinking, others would almost certainly believe that you were merely being complaisant. There would be no certainty that I really have read your thoughts.
"For this reason I have arranged matters so that the proof must be accepted by all--that is, If I have succeeded. The pack is in your hands; I cannot tamper with it, and my proof is this: I have placed your card in a certain position which I could only have done by knowing what card it is. Please name the card upon which you have concentrated. The five of spades! I knew it! And, knowing it is a five, I placed that very card fifth from the top. Deal four cards face down, please. Now turn up the fifth card. The five of spades! Thank you, sir;! have never worked with anyone possessing greater powers of concentration."
Take back the pack, gather up the cards just dealt face downwards, and shuffle the pack. In tricks of this nature it is always advisable to carry on at once with another that depends on an entirely different principle.
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