Hello! I hope you’re all having a lovely weekend. I have an awesome post for you all today.
I’m honoured to be kicking off the ‘Artie On Tour’ blog tour to celebrate the release of the new book in the Artie Conan Doyle series, Artie Conan Doyle and the Vanishing Dragon by Robert J. Harris. I have an extract from The Vanishing Dragon to share with you all.
Extract from Artie Conan Doyle and the Vanishing Dragon
The first part of the show involved packs of playing cards. Artie watched spellbound as the Great Wizard of the North executed a breathtaking series of seemingly impossible tricks, producing cards from inside pieces of fruit, passing them invisibly from one hand to the other, then making any card named by a member of the audience pop out of the deck and dance about in the air.
Other amazing feats followed: pulling a string of brightly coloured flags out of a thimble, turning flowers into flame, causing a whole flock of doves to burst from an empty glass bowl.
Next the magician was joined by a handsome young woman in an evening frock of green satin spangled with opalescent sequins. “My daughter Louise remains the most famed mentalist on the planet,” he announced. “Once again we shall demonstrate the unique psychic bond that exists between us.”
The young woman sat down in a chair and an assistant tied a large silk blindfold over her eyes. Professor Anderson walked up the aisle through the audience, challenging people to produce objects from their pockets, images of which he would transmit to his daughter by telepathic waves. Each time he gazed at an object and invited Louise to read his thoughts she correctly identified the item, whether it was a watch or a ring or a wallet, and in the case of a wallet she even divined the exact amount of money inside it.
Ham gasped and nudged Artie, who nodded his agreement that this was a baffling demonstration of psychic ability. As the Great Wizard approached their row, Artie noticed the bearded stranger next to him shrink back into his seat, tucking in his chin so that his face was completely overshadowed by his hat.
The magician’s bright eyes fixed upon Ham. “I have a notion that this fellow has something rather unusual in his pocket. Is that correct, my young friend?”
Ham was struck dumb and only nodded when Artie gave him a sharp poke.
“Then show us what you have there,” the Great Wizard prompted.
Somewhat abashed, Ham reached into his pocket and pulled out a currant bun. There was some good-natured laughter as Anderson said, “Yes, only a schoolboy carries such things in his pocket. And why not? Now, Louise, concentrate on my thoughts. What am I looking at?”
Louise paused then said, “Is it something to eat?”
“It is indeed,” said her father. “You are on the right track.”
“It’s a cake,” said the girl confidently. “A currant bun.”
“And very delicious, I’m sure,” he told Ham with an indulgent smile.
Artie was sure the magician winked at him before he turned and made his way back to the stage accompanied by another round of clapping. Ham slipped the bun back into his pocket. “I thought I might get hungry if the show went on late,” he explained sheepishly.
“Do you suppose it’s telepathy, or just an ingenious trick?” Artie wondered.
“Either way, it’s jolly impressive.”
While they were talking in hushed tones, two enormous vases, each large enough to hold a person, were rolled out onto the stage by a pair of assistants. Each vase was painted with exotic images of suns, moons, snakes and swords. A petite girl dressed as an oriental princess skipped lightly onto the stage and took up position between the two great vessels. Gold bracelets decorated her slender arms and a jewelled band encircled her brow.
“And now,” the magician announced, “a feat I learned from the mystics of India – the Transposition of the Princess Zafira. Princess, are you prepared for this daring undertaking?”
The princess nodded and, pressing her palms together in front of her, performed a brief but elegant dance to the orchestra’s exotic music.
“The tale comes from The Arabian Nights,” the Great Wizard told the audience, “and tells how Princess Zafira was pursued through the palace by the evil vizier, Nabooz.”
Right on cue, the villainous figure of the vizier appeared from behind the left-hand curtain. Beneath his oversized turban a dusky face snarled at the audience with comically exaggerated menace.
“The vizier spotted the princess, who planned to conceal herself inside this enormous vase,” said the Great Wizard, pointing to the vessel on the left, “and believed he had her trapped.”
The princess wove an agile course around both vases.
“The villain kept his beady eye fixed upon the princess as she performed her dance,” the magician narrated. “He was scheming how he would—”
He was interrupted by a squawk from the vizier who was gawking at the left-hand jar, from which a plume of smoke was rising, followed by a spout of flame. Artie assumed this was part of the show until the Great Wizard uttered a gasp of horror and cracks appeared all over the vessel. At the sight of the flames within, the vizier uttered a howl of panic and flung himself headlong into the orchestra pit.
The Great Wizard grabbed the princess and pulled her down beneath him for protection as the giant vase exploded, sending spouts of flame and clay fragments flying in all directions. A cry of alarm went up across the theatre as a streak of fire struck a side curtain and set it ablaze.
Cries broke out from all sides. “Fire! Fire!”
I hope you enjoyed reading this extract. Tomorrow is hosted by Mr Ripley’s Enchanted Books, do check them out. You can find the other blogs and dates below.