In these fire-eating tricks, if you wash your mouth out with alum and water, all the better.
The other feat of fire-eating is a very old one, and has been often published, but I have seen so very many people astonished by it that I venture to give it again for the new generation.
THE CANDLE TRICK.
[Illustration: Fig. 1.]
[Illustration: Fig. 2.]
Procure a good, large apple or turnip, and cut from it a piece of the shape of Fig. 1, to resemble the butt-end of a tallow candle; then from a nut of some kind--an almond is the best--whittle out a small peg of about the size and shape of Fig. 2. Stick the peg in the apple as in Fig. 3, and you have a very fair representation of a candle. The wick you can light, and it will burn for at least a minute. In performing you should have your candle in a clean candlestick, show it plainly to the audience, and then put it into your mouth, taking care to blow it out in the same way as you would the cotton, and munch it up. If you think best, you can blow the candle out and allow the wick to cool, and it will look, with its burned wick, so natural that even the sharpest eyes can not distinguish it from the genuine article.
[Illustration: Fig. 3.]
Once, at a summer resort in Massachusetts, I made use of this candle with considerable effect. While performing a few parlor tricks to amuse some friends, I pretended to need a light. A confederate left the room, and soon returned with a lantern containing one of these apple counterfeits.
"Do you call that a candle?" I said.
"Certainly," he replied.
"Why, there is scarcely a mouthful."
"A mouthful? Rather a disagreeable mouthful, I guess."
"You have never been in Russia, I presume?"
"Then you don't know what is good."
"Yes, good. Why, candle ends, with the wick a little burned, to give them a flavor, are delicious. They always serve them up before dinner in Russia as a kind of relish. It is considered bad taste in good society there to ask a friend to sit down to dinner without offering him this appetizer."
"The bad taste would be in the relish, I think."
"Not at all. Try a bit."
I took the candle out of the lantern, and extended it toward my confederate, who shrank back with disgust.
"Well," I said, "if you won't have it, I'll eat it myself." And so saying, I put it into my mouth and munched it up, amid the cries of surprise and horror of the assembled party. Two old maids insisted on looking into my mouth to see whether it was not concealed there.
A RIDDLE IN RHYME.
On one occasion, while at a dinner party, Dr. O. W. Holmes composed the following riddle:
"My initials show my date to be The morning of the Christian year; Though fatherless, as all agree, I am a father, it is clear: A mother too, beyond dispute; And when my son comes, He's a fruit.
Now, not to puzzle you too much, 'Twas I gave Holland to the Dutch."
[Illustration: A WARM DAY IN THE COUNTRY--SUDDEN APPEARANCE OF VILLAGE SCHOOL-MISTRESS, AND EQUALLY SUDDEN DISAPPEARANCE OF SCHOLARS.]