“Ladies and gentlemen, if you will kindly give me your attention for a few moments I will be happy to introduce to your favorable notice an entertainer of world-wide fame who will, I am sure, not only mystify you but, at the same time, interest you. You have witnessed the death-defying dives of the Demon Discobolus; you have laughed with the comical clowns; you have thrilled with the hurrying horses; and you have gasped at the ponderous pachyderms. Now you are to be shown a trick which has baffled the most profound minds of this or any other city—aye, I may say, of the world!”
Jim Tracy, ringmaster and, in this instance, stage manager of Sampson Brothers’ Circus, paused in his announcement and with a wave of his hand indicated a youth attired in a spotless, tight-fitting suit of white silk. The youth, who stood in the center of a stage erected in the big tent, bowed as the manager waited to allow time for the applause to die away.
“You have all seen ordinary magicians at work making eggs disappear up their sleeves,” went on the stage manager. “You have, I doubt not, witnessed some of them producing live rabbits from silk hats. But Professor Joe Strong, who will shortly have the pleasure of entertaining you, not only makes eggs disappear, but what is far more difficult, he causes a lady to vanish into thin air.
“You will see a beautiful lady seated in full view of you. A moment later, by the practice of his magical art, Professor Strong will cause the same lady to disappear utterly, and he will defy any of you to tell how it is done. Now, Professor, if you are ready—” and with a nod and a wave of his hand toward the youth in the white silk tights, Jim Tracy stepped off the elevated stage and hurried to the other end of the circus tent where he had to see to it that another feature of the entertainment was in readiness.
“Oh, Joe, I’m actually nervous! Do you think I can do it all right?” asked a pretty girl, attired in a dress of black silk, which was in striking contrast to Joe Strong’s white, sheeny costume.
“Do it, Helen? Of course you can!” exclaimed the “magician,” as he had been termed by the ringmaster. “Do just as you did in the rehearsals and you’ll be all right.”
“But suppose something should go wrong?” she asked in a low voice.
“Don’t be in the least excited. I’ll get you out of any predicament you may get into. Tricks do, sometimes, go wrong, but I’m used to that. I’ll cover it up, somehow. However, I don’t anticipate anything going wrong. Now take your place while I give them a little patter.”
This talk had taken place in low voices and with a rapidity which did not keep the expectant audience waiting. Joe Strong, while he was reassuring Helen Morton, his partner in the trick and also the girl to whom he was engaged to be married, was rapidly getting the stage ready for the illusion.