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Joe Strong the Boy Fire-Eater The Most Dangerous Performance on Record   By:

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JOE STRONG THE BOY FIRE EATER

OR

THE MOST DANGEROUS PERFORMANCE ON RECORD

BY VANCE BARNUM

Author of "Joe Strong, the Boy Wizard," "Joe Strong and His Wings of Steel," "Joe Strong and His Box of Mystery," etc.

1916

JOE STRONG, THE BOY FIRE EATER

CHAPTER I

THE VANISHING LADY

"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.

"Ladies and gentlemen," said Joe, as he advanced to the edge of the stage, "I am afraid our genial manager has rather overstated my powers. What I am about to do, to be perfectly frank with you, is a trick. I lay no claim to supernatural powers. But if I can do a trick and you can't tell how it is done, then you must admit that, for the moment, I am smarter than you. In other words, I am going to deceive you. But the point is how do I do it? With this introduction, I will now state what I am about to do.

"Mademoiselle Mortonti will seat herself on a stage in a chair in full view of you all. I will cover her, for a moment only, with a silken veil. This, if I were a real necromancer, I should say was to prevent your seeing her dissolve into a spirit as she disappears. But to tell you the truth, it is to conceal the manner in which I do the trick... Continue reading book >>




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