Chapter 18: - Page 6 of 6

Legerdemain

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

Mercy! She still lives! groaned Padre Salvi, and then lost consciousness.  He was as pallid as a corpse. Some of the ladies thought it their duty to faint also, and proceeded to do so.

He is out of his head! Padre Salvi!

I told him not to eat that bird’s-nest soup, said Padre Irene.  It has made him sick.

But he didn’t eat anything, rejoined Don Custodio shivering.  As the head has been staring at him fixedly, it has mesmerized him.

So disorder prevailed, the room seemed to be a hospital or a battlefield.  Padre Salvi looked like a corpse, and the ladies, seeing that no one was paying them any attention, made the best of it by recovering.

Meanwhile, the head had been reduced to ashes, and Mr. Leeds, having replaced the cloth on the table, bowed his audience out.

This show must be prohibited, said Don Custodio on leaving.  It’s wicked and highly immoral.  

And above all, because it doesn’t use mirrors, added Ben-Zayb, who before going out of the room tried to assure himself finally, so he leaped over the rail, went up to the table, and raised the cloth: nothing, absolutely nothing! [1] On the following day he wrote an article in which he spoke of occult sciences, spiritualism, and the like.

An order came immediately from the ecclesiastical governor prohibiting the show, but  Mr. Leeds had already disappeared, carrying his secret with him to Hongkong.

[1] Yet Ben-Zayb was not very much mistaken. The three legs of the table have grooves in them in which slide the mirrors hidden below the platform and covered by the squares of the carpet. By placing the box upon the table a spring is pressed and the mirrors rise gently. The cloth is then removed, with care to raise it instead of letting it slide off, and then there is the ordinary table of the talking heads. The table is connected with the bottom of the box. The exhibition ended, the prestidigitator again covers the table, presses another spring, and the mirrors descend.—Author’s note.

Learn this Filipino word:

hindî kaya ng bulsá