Long And Short Of It

While playing with Hen Fetsch's "The Professor's Nightmare," Slydini decided that it would enhance the original effect if the performer were able to start out with a single length of rope. The audience, naturally, knows you are going to do a rope trickā€”but what kind? A certain amount of suspense is created. Besides, the "Nightmare" could then be performed as an excellent follow-up at the conclusion of any effect where a length of rope remains in the performer's hands.

You begin with a 5-foot (approximately) length of rope held between thumbs, fore and middle fingers of each hand about an inch from each protruding end. Bring protruding end of rope in right hand over to left fingers (Foto 1). Grasp this right end with tips of left fingers as right fingers grasp left end (Foto 2).

You are going to pull on the ends of the rope to arrange it into three even parts. In order to keep the rope from escaping your fingers, as you grasp each end from the opposite hand, contrive to get the

rope well between each middle and forefinger. As you pull the ends of the rope, turn towards the right and raise your right hand while you lower the left. The result will be that you wind up as in foto 3.

Release the bottom end and allow the rope to hang free in this arrangement from your right hand. Insert middle finger of left hand between first and center portions of hanging rope; forefinger goes behind center part. Foto 4 shows exact position. Note that end of rope is in front of loop.

At this point, clip rope securely but loosely between thumb, and middle finger of left hand. Upper loop lies between fore and middle fingers of right hand with end held in front of loop between thumb and tip of forefinger as in foto 5.

It is very important that you get the position of the fingers just right because the next move depends on the rope falling into exact position:

With rope clipped by left hand as above described, release top loop while keeping end between thumb and forefinger tips (Foto 6). Note that loop falls of its own accord, towards right, between tips of left forefinger and thumb.

As you patter, release end of rope from right hand to gesture. With right fingers, pick up back portion of rope which is the continuation of the end in view (Foto 7) and which lies between left fore and middle fingers. Bring up the loop thus formed making it even with the protruding end.

Now, cut through top and hanging loops and the appearance is that you have cut the rope into three equal lengths.

To "prove" you not only have cut the rope but have three pieces of equal length you "separate" and "count" them.

Make sure that the single piece is first in order from your fingers and that the two interlooped pieces are on the inside.

Take the single piece and draw it out (Foto 8) moving hands apart for its full length. Let left end drop free. As soon as end falls, lift thumb of left hand free of palm and open fingers of right hand displaying the piece of rope held between thumb and forefinger.

Now, bring rope from right hand over to left. As you slide right hand piece into crotch of left thumb, your open fore and middle fingers clip the two protruding ends (Foto 9). Immediately pull at these ends using the same motions as you did for pulling the single rope. Let one end of the long rope fall as if it were the original piece (properly done this is the appearance) as you stretch the other portion to its (seemingly) full length (Foto 10). Don't pick up the "third" piece. Just hold it up and display it (Foto 11).

Bring right hand over to left. As you turn a little towards left, pull the ends up slightly and drape the rope(s) from your right hand over your open left and next to the single piece (Foto

12). The short, looped piece hangs covered by your open hand.

Pick up the three hanging ends, put them into your hand next to the top three and close your hand. Pull at one end and slide a piece free; tug at another end, pull a second piece and then the third piece free. Display the three different pieces.

You may now perform Hen Fetch's "The Professor's Nightmare."

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