Emascula thrust the first sword into the box. Stella pulled an expression of surprise, and the audience gasped when she wiggled her feet. Emascula fetched a second sword from the basket beside the box, and thrust it into another slot. Again the audience gasped, and Stella continued to smile.
Four more swords were inserted, each at an angle to the previous blade. Stella's smile never wavered, and Emascula tired of the gasps of the audience. They gazed up at him with a mixture of awe and disbelief, as if they'd never seen this before. This was the eighty-second time he'd performed this trick, and he knew that illusionists besides himself used a similar approach. How could this be so new to them?
Bereft of swords, Emascula reached into his inside pocket and withdrew a wand. He waved it above the box, tapping the cabinet three times, and Stella squeaked. Emascula stifled a grimace, making a mental note to replace her as soon as possible. She couldn't sell the illusions, all she could do was smile and simper. He separated the two halves of the cabinet, spinning them around so that the audience could see Stella's head at one end, and her feet at the other. Swords protruded from both halves.
The audience gasped and cooed with delight, and Stella wiggled her feet to much applause. Emascula pushed the two halves of the box back together, and pulled the swords free, tossing them to the floor with a clatter. The last sword removed, he opened the box with a flourish. Stella clambered to her feet and posed, apparently unscathed. The audience erupted into applause and cheers, the deafening clamour rolling around the auditorium.
Emascula bowed and adopted his trademark final flourish, but sighed inwardly. These cretins were so easily fooled. Parting them from their money was the oldest trick in the book.