The three bright young ladies delighted in how modern they were. Their dresses were all in the latest fashion and their lace gloves were each a distinctive pastel shade, in contrast to the white of the less modern members of the audience.
They watched the private showing with a mixture of wonder and cynicism. Magic was really a delight for children, but as young women they were obviously too grown-up for such fripperies; they adopted the slightly patronising smile of the adult looking down on lesser mortals with a practised air. Nevertheless all three enjoyed the demonstrations of wonder more than they would admit; and wondered how it was that the card had disappeared and reappeared beneath the volunteer's foot (a frisson of excitement there as the magician clasped her attractive young lady's ankle to raise her foot).
This was Victorian England; an era when the middle class were the most moral and correct in all their public activities – even if they were less so in private. The volunteer on stage giggled to have her ankle grasped by the Great Impravo; he was handsome and young; she found it really rather exciting to be handled by him. Returning her to her seat, he kissed her hand and bowed. Such a gentleman. The show continued, with disappearing kittens; a lady's diamond ring, on her finger, that became a curtain ring; and then there was the ring in the goldfish bowl!
By the end he had the audience in his hand; the most cynical had to admit he was a consummate artist and showman. The soiree that followed had the young women clustered round him.
"You nearly had me convinced Mr Impravo, your tricks are so clever. I was enthralled"
"You think them merely tricks then? You don't think they might be magic?" He laughed, he was used to the metropolitan elite thinking themselves above all this childish nonsense, even as they believed in a God they could not see. He didn't mind.
"Do tell us how you do it, even one little trick?"
"I cannot, I'm bound by the magician's code. If I told you I would then have to hypnotise you to make you forget"
"Oh, now Mr Impravo; you really cannot expect us to believe in hypnotism as well, all such hocus pocus is it not?"
Impravo smiled and asked if they would be willing to test that hypothesis.
"Well, I do not know, I believe in science Mr Impravo, so a proper test might be acceptable. What do you have in mind pray tell"
"Hypnotism is an individual thing, it needs quiet and concentration. Ideally it should be personal, between two people, but of course that would not be appropriate. Perhaps if you three ladies were willing to attend together we could test whether it was possible to mesmerise someone to perform some task they were not aware they were performing?"
A brief discussion between these three modern, independent young women decided that they had no need to ask their parents' permission; it was perfectly permissible and entirely acceptable to attend such a meeting. There would be three of them so there could be no question of impropriety.
A date was set and the three set off to meet Mr Impravo in his rooms. That they each told their mothers that they were visiting each other perhaps implies that they were not entirely convinced that the meeting was appropriate.
"Welcome, welcome ladies. The weather has turned cold I think? Here, let me take your wraps and then conduct you to my drawing room. The fire is well-lit and you shall soon be warm"
.... There is more of this story ...