THE HANDCUFF KING.
MANACLED BY A STRONG MAN
TRUSSED TILL MIDNIGHT.
UNPARALLELED SCENES AT THE PALACE THEATRE
(“STANDARD AND EXPRESS” SPECIAL.)
Never in the history of the Blackburn Palace Theatre, if not in the history music hall life has there been witnessed so remarkable scene as that which took place in the local hall last night, when Houdini, the Handcuff King, who has been performing at the theatre during the week, set himself the task of justifying his challenge to free himself from any irons that could be brought to fasten him, the challenge having been taken up be Mr. W. H. Hodgson, of the School of Physical Culture. Houdini deposited £25, which, had he failed to accomplish the task, would have been handed over to the infirmary.
Needless to say, with such a tit-bit offered them, the Blackburn public turned up in large numbers, and the theatre was literally packed from pit to gallery. Shortly before half-past ten when Houdini appeared, he was met on the stage by Mr. Hodgson, who proceeded to produce quite an armoury of cuffs and irons. Houdini at the outset raised a protest against the irons which wore to make him a prisoner, as he urged that the locks had been tampered with and had been wrapped with twine, which was against the spirit of his challenge and its conditions, which stipulated that regulation irons be used. Mr Hodgson, however, replied that he had said he would bring his own irons and use them himself.
Houdini, thereupon allowed the contest to go on, and Mr. Hodgson proceeded with the work of fastening up his challenger. He handcuffed his wrists which he bound across his chest: and then by the aid of an assistant, forced his elbows backwards to his side and pinioned them, after which he coupled them up in a very tight manner to leg irons, and Houdini looked for all the world like a like a trussed fowl. Some objections were taken by the audience to Mr. Hodgson receiving assistance, which was in direct violation of the terms of the challenge, but Houdini signified his readiness to allow the battle to proceed. The artiste was then placed in his cabinet and the struggle commenced. After about a quarter of an hour had elapsed it was found that Houdini had fallen on his side, and it was thought that he had fainted. But such was not the case, and after another three-quarters of an hour had elapsed, Houdini asked that his wrists might be free for a¨ few seconds as his hands were numbed. Mr. Hodgson, however refused this concession, although Dr. Bradley, who was in attendance said it was cruel for the performance to continue. Shortly afterwards Houdini announced that he had got his legs free and he would take ¨ short rest before proceeding further.
There were encouraging cheers raised by the audience, but there were several hostile voices raised which caused Houdini to ejaculate; “You must remember, ladies and gentlemen, I did not state the time it would take me to take them off. These handcuffs have been plugged.”
It was evident that Houdini had the sympathies of the audience, who waited very patiently the issue, the orchestra gallantly enlivening the tedium of waiting by supplying up-to-date musical selections.
As time went on the huge crowd began to get impatient, and in the hearts of most people it was felt that Houdini had more than met his match. But again out popped Houdini’s heads and he announced that he had got his hands free, and it would not be long before he had got his hands free altogether.
The crowd, however, was fast losing patience, and they loudly hooted as Hardean, brother of Houdini, approached the cabinet to give ¨a word of cheer, or maybe advice, to his imprisoned relative. On receiving a¨ refreshing drink Houdini, after again calling upon the people to have a¨little more patience, exclaimed that every lock had been changed, and that made it all the more difficult for him to get free.
At ten minutes to twelve a¨ huge shout went up when it was seen that Houdini was free, and as he staggered from his cabinet and appeared panting and weak before the audience, the cheers that went up were most deafening.
The cheers were renewed again and again and Houdini, whose shirt dad been torn from cuff to shoulder, and whose wrists and biceps were raw in places, thus addressed the audience: Ladies and gentlemen, I have been in the handcuff business for fourteen years but never have I been so brutally and cruelly illtreated. I would just like to say that the locks have been plugged.
A voice: Where's Hodgson? Why is he not here to offer his congratulations?
Mr Hodgson had some time before left the theatre, and after another rousing cheer had been given to Houdini, the crowd rapidly dispersed, eagerly commenting on the performance that is certainly unique in the in the experience of local play-goers.