The Burnt Writing Restored

Cover the outside of a small memorandum book with black paper, and in

one of its inside covers make a flap, to open secretly, and observe

there must be nothing over the flap but the black paper that covers

the book.

Mix soot with black or brown soap, with which rub the side of the

black paper next the flap; then wipe it clean, that a white paper

pressed against it will not receive any mark.

Provide a black-lead pencil that will not mark without pressing hard

on the paper. Have likewise a small box, about the size of a

memorandum book, and that opens on both sides, but on one of them by a

private method. Give a person a pencil and a slip of thin paper, on

which he is to write what he thinks proper; you present him the

memorandum book at the same time, that he may not write on the bare

paper. You tell him to keep what he writes to himself, and direct him

to burn it on the iron plate laid on a chafing-dish of coals, and give

you the ashes. You then go into another room to fetch your magic box,

before described, and take with you the memorandum book.

Having previously placed a paper under the flap in the cover of the

book, when he presses hard with the pencil, to write on his paper,

every stroke, by means of the stuff rubbed on the black paper, will

appear on that under the flap. You therefore take it out, and put it

into one side of the box.

You then return to the other room, and taking a slip of black paper,

you put it into the other side of the box, strewing the ashes of the

burnt paper over it. Then shaking the box for a few moments, and at

the same time turning it dexterously over, you open the other side,

and show the person the paper you first put in, the writing on which

he will readily acknowledge to be his.

If there be a press or cupboard that communicates with the next room,

you need only put the book in the press, and your assistant will open

it, and put the paper in the box, which you presently after take out,

and perform the rest of the amusement as before.

There may likewise be a flap on the other cover of the book; and you

may rub the paper against that with red lead. In this case you give

the person the choice of writing either with a black or red pencil;

and present him the proper side of the book accordingly.

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