“Perhaps some ancient magician did this, but I think he depended more on water than on anything else. If your hands are wet there is formed on them a film of moisture which, for a moment, will enable you to withstand high degrees of dry heat.
“In another old book I read that if one prepared himself with ’liquid stortax,’ which is juice from a certain tree growing in Italy, he could enter fire, bathe in fire, put a burning coal on his tongue, and even swallow fire.
“Now I am not going to let you into all my secrets. You shall see—what you shall see!” concluded Joe.
As intimated before, the method Joe Strong used is not going to be printed here. You have been given some genuine ancient formulae, safe in the knowledge that some of the ingredients can not be obtained. And the modern substitutes are not going to be told. Enough to say that Joe had “prepared himself.”
The young magician looked to see that all was in readiness. Perceiving that it was, he retired for a moment to a cabinet set up on the stage, and when he came out he was ready for his tricks.
Joe advanced to what seemed to be an elaborate candelabra in which seven tapers were set. He stood in front of this a moment, and then he announced:
“Having lived on a fire diet so long I have a bit to spare. I will light these candles without using a match.”
He waved his hand over the candelabra. Sparks were seen to shoot from his finger tips, and in an instant the seven lights were glowing. That was an electrical trick. In reality the candles were gas jets, made to look like wax tapers, and Joe lighted them from an electric current produced by a dry battery he carried on his person.
He then proceeded to his main trick. He picked up a plate. It seemed to contain pieces of bread. Joe touched the edge of the plate to a flame of one of the candles. In an instant the plate was ablaze, and Joe calmly began putting the blazing stuff on it into his mouth.
Cube after cube of the blazing “bread” he lifted up on a fork and thrust between his lips. And he seemed to enjoy the “eating” of it.
The audience was spellbound. Every one’s eyes were on Joe Strong doing his fire-eating trick.
The plate was empty. Joe looked about as though for something else hot to eat. He caught up an article from a table. Holding it to the flame of a candle, it was at once ablaze.
And then, with a thrilling cry, Joe Strong leaped from the stage, his two hands, held high above his head, seeming to be enveloped in a mass of fire. And with this fire held over him, he ran toward the tank in which Benny Turton did his “human fish” act.
The next instant Joe Strong, apparently ablaze all over, dived into the tank.