How The Tricks Succeeded

When the medium picked up the envelope in which to place my paper,

there was within it a duplicate piece of paper folded the same, and

of the same size (one inch and a quarter by two inches) as the one

I had folded. He kept the face of this envelope opposite me so I

could not see that side of it. On the face of it was a horizontal

slit cut with a knife. This slit was about two inches long and was

situated about halfway down the face of the envelope. The

duplicate folded paper was placed vertically in the envelope at its

center, so that its center was located against the slit. This

piece of paper was held in position by a touch of paste at a point

opposite the slit, which caused it to adhere to the inside of the

back of the envelope.

When he picked up this prepared envelope with his left hand, he did

so with the slit side or face in his palm next to the fingers of

his left hand. This envelope lay slit side down before he picked

it up; so that I did not see the face of the envelope at all, and

he kept that side of the envelope from me during the entire trick.

The paper within the envelope had been placed far enough down so

that its top part was not exposed to my view. The envelope thus

appeared perfectly natural, as an ordinary one with nothing in it.

He thus held the envelope in his left hand, flap open wide, with

the back side of the envelope later to be sealed, facing me. Now

he really inserted my paper in this envelope with his right hand as

he took it from me; but in fact, he pushed it down just behind the

hidden slip of paper within the envelope. I mean that he inserted

it between the concealed slip and the face or slit side of the

envelope; and as he did this he caused the lower end of my slip of

paper to pass through the slit in the center of the front of the

envelope. The lower portion of my slip was thus out of the

envelope on its rear side, between the front of the envelope and

the fingers of his left hand; although I could see nothing of this.

He pushed it down so that the top still remained in view with the

bent corner exposed, and then sealed the flap over it.

Holding the envelope toward the window, he called to my notice the

fact that my paper was within, and that I could see it plainly. I

could see the shadow of the two papers, which appeared as one, and

thus his statement seemed correct. Of course he did not show me

the rear side OR FACE of the envelope, with my paper protruding,

which was immediately behind the duplicate, so that the shadow of

it was also the shadow of the duplicate.

This shadow also hid from my view the shadow of the slit. The

envelope was sealed fairly.

Now with his right hand he moved a small vessel on the table toward

himself. Then taking the envelope in his right hand, slit side

downward, he held it close to this vessel; at the same time with

his left hand he took a match from his pocket and proceeded to burn

the envelope. This move concealed the trick; and it was very

deceiving and cleverly done. As he took the envelope from his left

hand with his right hand, he, with his left fingers touching the

protruding portion of my slip, caused it to remain in his left hand

and to be drawn entirely out of the slit. His eyes followed the

envelope as his right hand took it; which naturally caused my eyes

to follow it, as his attention seemed centered on the envelope and

it appeared to occupy the stage of action. This move was executed

in a moment, not requiring any time worth mentioning, although it

takes so long to describe it on paper intelligibly. Now while his

eyes (and of course mine) followed the envelope, without pause his

left hand went into his left pocket in a natural manner to get the

match. He, of course, left my slip in his pocket with his surplus

matches; and when he retired for the drink of water, he read my


As to the slate trick, all was fair until he picked up the top

slate, wrote an automatic message, apparently read it aloud to me,

and then upon my informing him that the message did not answer my

question, he seemed dissatisfied, apparently erased the message,

and replaced the large slate on top of the stack of slates. What

he really did was to pick up the large top slate, bottom side

toward himself, and at the same time to carry with it a small slate

pressed tightly against its under side. He held the large slate

with its under side tilted from me, so I could not see this small

slate. There being so many small slates in the stack, the

temporary absence of one from the stack attracted no notice.

He kept this small slate next to him out of my view, and really

wrote the message on the small slate which was next to him, and

which was concealed from my view by the larger slate. He did not

read aloud what he had actually written, but merely pretended to do

so, repeating something entirely foreign to the subject instead.

What he had written really answered my question fully. When he

appeared to erase the message, his movements were but a pretense;

and he did not erase it at all. When he replaced the large slate

on the stack of slates, he, of course, replaced the small one which

was concealed under it, message side down.

It must be remembered that the operator, at the beginning of the

slate trick, first took up and examined the large slate a time or

so for a message; and finding none, seemed disappointed, and

finally wrote the automatic message; then on being informed that it

did not apply to the case, he seemed dissatisfied and appeared to

erase it.

After the message was written and the slates replaced, he examined

the top slate a time or so, and even lifted off a few small slates

looking for writing, but did not turn them over; then seeing

nothing, he scattered the slates around on the table, leaving their

same sides downward; and handing me the cover, he requested me to

cover them and place my hands on them.

The trick was now practically done. As the slates had been

examined so many times and nothing found on them, even after the

automatic writing, the majority of persons would testify that there

was positively nothing on the slates when the medium left the

table. The majority of persons would never remember that he at one

time wrote on the large slate and erased it. The message being on

a small slate, and these being spread around, few would have known

that this message really appeared on the particular small slate

that was originally next the top of the stack.

Most people would have certified that they cleaned all of the

slates themselves, that the medium never touched any of the small

ones, and that he only laid his hands on top of the stack a few

times. Some would even forget that the medium handled their

writing at all before burning it.

I am sure that the nickeled tube that carried the dripping water

into the space over the glass bowl, had a second tube within it;

through which his assistant from the adjoining room either blew, or

sent by some mechanism, the chemicals (probably potassium) that

would take fire and burn on striking the water.

. . . . .

When I perform the slate trick described above, after writing the

"automatic" message, apparently erasing it, and replacing the

slates, I do not scatter the slates around on the table as this

medium did. Instead, I proceed as I will now describe.

We place our palms on the stack, and after a time examine the large

slate for a message, but find none. I may incidentally remark that

this last examination unconsciously verifies in the sitter's mind

the fact that I actually erased what I wrote "automatically."

I now look on some of the smaller slates for a message, but find

none. When I do this I do not turn these slates over and look on

their under sides, but merely take off the top slate to see if

there be a message on the upper surface of the one under it. I

merely remark, "Well, there is nothing on that slate," indicating

the second one from the top; and at the same time I drop the top

slate (now in my hand) on the table beside the stack. I

immediately take off the second slate and repeat this same

performance, dropping it on top of the first one. I keep on with

this performance until I have removed four or five of the slates,

and have them stacked in a second stack beside the first one. Then

seeming to grow discouraged, I remark, "I guess there is no

message"; and I replace the second stack on the first stack. This

places the message slate four or five slates down in the stack; as

the bottom slate of the second stack, being the top slate of the

original stack, is now the message slate.

I next up-edge the small slates and place a rubber band around them

placing them in the sitter's lap. I, of course, place what was the

top of the stack downward when I do so. As the stack is on the

side edges of the slates when I first up-edge them, I next bring

them upon the end edges, while I put the band in place. It is now

easy to place the stack of slates upon the sitter's lap with the

top slate down and to attract no notice to this fact. This is

because the position has been changed a time or so in placing the

band on; and I then take the stack in my hands by the edges of the

slates, and simply place what was the top side of the stack in the

beginning, at the bottom.

In due time I tell the subject to make an examination for a

message, and of course four or five slates down he finds a message

on the upper surface of one of the slates.

This seems very miraculous, as the slates have been so repeatedly

examined and nothing found. Finding the message on the upper

surface of a middle slate, where but a moment before there was

nothing, seems to be truly a marvel. The subject having cleaned

and stacked these slates himself, and having seen them examined so

many times, naturally feels impressed that the message comes by

some superhuman power.

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