Having made two visits to India, I should be lacking in my duty to the fraternity if I failed to record the result of my personal investigation of the traditional miracle.
One day an hotel servant informed me that a "trick wallah" (such was the undignified title assigned to the representative of Eastern Magic) awaited my pleasure without. After a hard life, waiting on the pleasure of others, the idea of becoming an aristocrat in this strange land, and engaging a magician to perform at my command, appealed to me strongly, and I engaged him forthwith, the more gladly as he only asked for his fee as many shillings as I, in my time, expected guineas.
He gave me a good hour’s entertainment for the money, ingeniously contrived from such properties as an industrious person can collect from a day’s tour of domestic rubbish heaps. Then I asked him, "What about the Mango Tree Trick?" The Mango Tree Trick he informed me, was an affair of a higher power, and he recommended me to his uncle. Regardless of the cost, I duly engaged the uncle, and a venerable old gentleman, with another sack of castaway trifles, responded to the call. A very pleasant hour passed in the exhibition of exactly the same show that I had already seen (wherein I observed the similarity of habit between the wizards of the East and of the West); and then came the Mango Tree Trick complete - all except the mango. I asked about the fruit, but was told that it was not in season - from which one gathers that even the far-famed magic of the East has its limitations.
And then I enquired about the Great Indian Rope Trick. The old man shook his head sadly. "No," he said, he did not know any magician who could do it. "My grandfather," he said, "did it five hundred years ago, but no man ever since." I regard that, coming as it does from one of the most highly reputed magicians in India, as authoritative and conclusive. As distinguished variety artistes say in contemplation of their own talents in the advertising columns of The Stage, "’nuf said."
Credits: Nikola, Louis
The Secret behind this trick
And now I will explain the guarded secret behind this trick. The rope is hollow in its center. The basket has a hole in the bottom. It sits on a large plate 4 feet in diameter with a 4-inch hole in the center. The plate covers a pit which is 4 feet in diameter and 4 feet deep, with an assistant crouching in it. In the floor of this hole is another hole only about 4 inches in diameter, but some 15 feet deep, containing a long pole. Assistant pulls end of rope down hole, slips it onto the pole like a condom, then pushes the pole up through the hole.