The cartwheels turn flicking gobs of mud up the lane. It enters a village and stops outside an Inn. The driver speaks to the Innkeeper, coins are exchanged and Sam Hain’s Phantasmagoria and Whole Art of Legerdemain prepares for a limited engagement (One Show Only) in the courtyard.
That night a crowd assembles. Cat-calls and jeers mingle with the excited laughter of anticipation. From inside his cart Sam Hain appears holding up his hand for silence.
Burning torches flicker.
He takes an empty bag, displays it inside and out and then produces loaves of bread, gold and silver coins and finally, some wild fowl.
He throws a pack of cards into the air which instantly change into ravens that fly about the yard.
Walking over to a girl (front row, centre) he produces an egg from behind her ear, cracks it open on top of her head and a dove appears.
With a small silver knife, he decapitates the bird, passes its head around the audience whilst he holds its fluttering body. He then reunites the two and releases the whole bird.
The flap of its wings is a round of applause.
He bows low then points his gloved hand at a dead tree.
Its branches fast forward through blossom, buds, fruit and leaves that are turning to gold even as they open.
He picks up an empty wine glass which is suddenly full. He drains it. It immediately refills as he hands it to a man on the front row who repeats the process. As does his neighbour; as does hers.
He produces a small casket inlaid with mother of pearl, lifts the lid and out leaps a tiger which explodes in a shower of sparks.
From nowhere he snaps three lengths of silk: red, green and gold.
Throwing them up in the air, they land upright on his palm and become flames he juggles with.
They describe arcs, pyramids, Signs of the Zodiac and finally bisect themselves into ten, twenty, forty, eighty, one hundred and sixty tongues of flame which hover.
“Look,” he whispers, “and see pictures in the flames.”
Illustration Nick Victor