Harry Houdini was not the only escapist interested in unmasking the false mediums that abounded in the Victorian era. One of his most outstanding disciples called himself Wolfang the Wizard of the North, and he had invented a trick of escapism whose secret not even the great Houdini was able to discover. Wolfang was chained from head to toe, then pulled into a hermetically sealed box. This box was thrown into the Hudson River with a one-tonne anchor and the public was authorized to shoot him if they saw him lean out to the surface. The end was spectacular: after half an hour the box was raised up completely empty, and at the same time Wolfang reappeared in Wichita, Kansas, still chained and with a raised blue-purple color on his face.

This Wolfang had resolved to unmask a fake medium named Sarah Toul, whose services were disputed by New York’s high society. For this he used his celebrated trick of escapism: during one of his performances, he did not reappear in Wichita, so he was immediately considered dead. But his mysterious death had been a farce. Actually, it had appeared in Wichita, only two streets away from where he used to. When he finally managed to convince a locksmith to accept a promissory note in exchange for ridding him of his chains, he returned to New York willing to put into practice his trap to unmask Madame Toul. Since Wolfang was a celebrity in New York, his death had a strong impact on the “Four Hundred” (the high society of the city), which hastened to organize séances to communicate with the spirit of the deceased.

One of these seances was to be held in the mansion of Mrs. Lilian Haskins, for whom she had invited the medium Sarah Toul. That afternoon Wolfang sneaked in the mansion using one of his tricks and hid behind a curtain in the room where the seance was to take place. When the time came, the guests sat around the circular table presided over by Madame Toul. At the request of this, those present united their hands on the table and, in the midst of a twilight atmosphere, the medium summoned aloud the spirit of Wolfang. He was about to appear suddenly as if by magic, when a voice from beyond the grave made him retreat. The disembodied voice identified itself as Wolfang himself and answered one by one all the questions that were asked. Wolfang remained hidden all the time listening to the revelations of his dead alter ego. Thanks to him he learned that his beloved mother, who died when he was a child, was there with him in the Hereafter, what touched him deeply. He also discovered earthly secrets that had always intrigued him, such as what had became of his sister Milly (she had married a rich tightrope walker and lived in Prague), or where was now a valuable painting that had disappeared from his house two years before (his ex-wife had pledged it and now presided over the living room of a certain Francis G. Mallory), all of which was later corroborated by Wolfang himself. When he wanted to reappear in society, everyone took him for an impostor and he spent the rest of his life as a hat peddler.

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