An immediate, worldwide sensation was created after "The Magic Story" first made its appearance in 1900 in the original 'Success' Magazine. After 1000's of requests for the reprint, a tiny, silver book was published. The story is presented here so that you too may benefit from its powerful message.
The book is in two parts. Part 1 below reveals the story of Sturtevant, a starving artist who's life was changed overnight after he purchased an old, ragged scrapbook for 3 cents. Within the scrapbook he found what he said was a "magic story". Everyone he told the story to prospered by it. It seemed to change people's lives for the better like magic. Part 2 on the next page is the actual Magic Story as found by Sturtevant.
Magic Story - Part 1
I was sitting alone in the cafe and had just reached for
the sugar preparatory to putting it into my coffee. Outside, the weather
was hideous. Snow and sleet came swirling down, and the wind howled frightfully.
Every time the outer door opened, a draft of unwelcome air penetrated
the uttermost corners of the room. Still I was comfortable.
As I raised my eyes to Sturtevant's I was conscious of mild surprise at the change in his appearance. Yet he was not dressed differently. He wore the same threadbare coat in which he always appeared, and the old brown hat was the same. And yet there was something new and strange in his appearance. As he swished his hat around to relieve it of the burden of snow dposited by the howling nor'wester, there was something new in the gesticulation.
I could not remember when I had invited Sturtevant to dine with me, but involuntarily I beckoned to him. He nodded and presently seated himself opposite to me. I asked him what he would have, and he, after scanning the bill of fare carelessly, ordered from it leisurely, and invited me to join him in coffee for two.
I watched him in stupid wonder, but, as I had invited the obligation, I was prepared to pay for it, although I knew I hadn't sufficient cash to settle the bill. Meanwhile I noticed the brightness of his usual lackluster eyes, and the healthful, hopeful glow upon his cheek, with increasing amazement.
"Have you lost a rich uncle?" I asked. "No,"
he replied, calmly, "but I have
You have seen me come into this place 'broke' many a time, when you have turned away, so that I would think you did not see me. I knew why you did that. It was not because you did not want to pay for a dinner, but because you did not have the money to do it. Is that your check? Let me have it. Thank you. I haven't any money with me tonight, but I, - well, this is my treat." He called the waiter to him, and, with an inimitable flourish, signed his name on the backs of the two checks, and waved him away.
After that he was silent for a moment while he looked into my eyes, smiling at the astonishment which I in vain strove to conceal. "Do you know an artist who possess more talent than I?" he asked, presently. "No. Do you happen to know anything in the line of my profession that I could not accomplish, if I applied myself to it? No. You have been a reporter for the dailies for - how many? - seven or eight years. Do you remember when I ever had any credit until tonight? No. Was I refused just now? You have seen for yourself. Tomorrow my new career begins. Within a month I shall have a bank account. Why? Because I have discovered the secret of success." "Yes," he continued, when I did not reply, "my fortune is made. I have been reading a strange story, and since reading it, I feel that my fortune is assured. It will make your fortune, too. All you have to do is read it. You have no idea what it will do for you. Nothing is impossible after you know that story. It makes everything as plain as A, B, C. The very instant you grasp its true meaning, success is certain. This morning I was a hopeless, aimless bit of garbage in the metropolitan ash can; tonight I wouldn't change places with a millionaire. That sounds foolish, but it is true. The millionaire has spent his enthusiasm; mine is all at hand."
"You amaze me," I said, wondering if he had been drinking absinthe.
"Won't you tell me the story? I should like to hear it."
"Certainly. I mean to tell it to the whole world. It is really remarkable that it should have been written and should remain in print so long, with never a soul to appreciate it until now. This morning I was starving. I hadn't any credit, nor a place to get a meal. I was seriously meditating suicide.
I had gone to three of the papers for which I had done work, and had been handed back all that I had submitted. I had to choose quickly between death by suicide and death slowly by starvation. Then I found the story and read it. you can hardly imagine the transformation. Why, my dear boy, everything changed at once, - and there you are."
"But what is the story, Sturtevant?"
"Wait; let me finish. I took those old drawings to other editors, and every one of them was accepted at once." "Can the story do for others what it has done for you? For example, would it be of assistance to me?" I asked. "Help you? Why not? Listen and I will tell it to you, although, really, you should read it. Still I will tell it as best I can. It is like this: you see, - - -" The waiter interrupted us at that moment. He informed Sturtevant that he was wanted on the telephone, and with a word of apology, the artist left the table.
Five minutes later I saw him rush out into the sleet and wind and disappear. Within the recollection of the frequenters of that cafe, Sturtevant had never before been called out by telephone. that, of itself, was substantial proof of a change in his circumstances.
One night, on the street, I encountered Avery, a former college chum, then a reporter on one of the evening papers. It was about a month after my memorable interview with Sturtevant, which, by that time, was almost forgotten. "Hello, old chap," he said; "how's the world using you? Still on space?" "Yes," I replied, bitterly, "with prospects of being on the town, shortly. But you look as if things were coming your way. Tell me all about it."
"Things have been coming my way, for a fact, and it is all remarkable, when all is said. You know Sturtevant, don't you? It's all due to him. I was plumb down on my luck, - thinking of the morgue and all that, - looking for you, in fact, with the idea you would lend me enough to pay my room rent, when I met Sturtevant. He told me a story, and, really, old man, it is the most remarkable story you ever heard; it made a new man out of me. Within twenty-four hours I was on my feet and I've hardly known a care or a trouble since."
Avery's statement, uttered calmly, and with the air of one who had merely pronounced an axiom, recalled to my mind the conversation with Sturtevant in the cafe that stormy night, nearly a month before. "It must be a remarkable story," I said, increduously. "Sturtevant mentioned it to me once. I have not seen him since. Where is he now?" "He has been making war sketches in Cuba, at two hundred a week; he's just returned. It is a fact that everybody who has heard the story has done well since. There are Cosgrove and Phillips, - friends of mine, - you don't know them. One's a real estate agent; the other's a broker's clerk, Sturtevant told them the story, and they have experienced the same results that I have; and they are not the only ones.
"Do you know the story?" I asked. "Will you try its effect on me?" "Certainly; with the greatest pleasure in the world. I would like to have it printed in big black type, and posted on the elevated stations throughout New York. It certainly would do a lot of good, and it's as simple as A, B, C: like living on a farm. Excuse me a minute, will you? I see Danforth over there. Back in a minute, old chap." If the truth be told, I was hungry. My pocket at that moment contained exactly five cents; just enough to pay my fare up-town, but insufficient also to stand the expense of filling my stomach.
There was a "night owl" wagon in the neighborhood, where I had frequently "stood up" the purveyor of midnight dainties, and to him I applied. He was leaving the wagon as I was on the point of entering it, and I accosted him. "I'm broke again," I said, with extreme cordiality. "You'll have to trust me once more. Some ham and eggs, I think, will do for the present." He coughed, hesitated a moment, and then re-entered the wagon with me. "Mr. Currier is good for anything he orders'" he said to the man in charge; "one of my old customers. This is Mr. Bryan, Mr. Currier. He will take good care of you, and 'stand for' you, just the same as I would. The fact is, I have sold out. I've just turned over the outfit to Bryan. By the way, isn't Mr. Sturtevant a friend of yours?" I nodded.
I couldn't have spoken if I had tried. "Well," continued the ex-"night owl" man, "he came in here one night, about a month ago, and told me the most wonderful story I ever heard. I've just bought a place in Eighth Avenue, where I am going to run a regular restaurant - near Twenty-third Street. Come and see me." He was out of the wagon and the sliding door had been banged shut before I could stop him; so I ate my ham and eggs in silence, and resolved that I would hear that story before I slept. In fact, I began to regard it with superstition.
If it had made so many fortunes, surely it should be capable of making mine. The certainty that the wonderful story - I began to regard it as magic - was in the air, possessed me. As I started to walk homeward, fingering the solitary nickel in my pocket and contemplating the certainty of riding downtown in the morning, I experienced the sensation of something stealthily puruing me, as if Fate were treading along behind me, yet never overtaking, and I was conscious that I was possessd with or by the story.
When I reached Union Square, I examined my address book for the home of Sturtevant. It was not recorded there. Then I remembered the cafe in University Place, and, although the hour was late, it occured to me that he might be there. He was! In a far corner of the room, surrounded by a group of acquaintences, I saw him. He discovered me at the same instant, and motioned to me to join them at the table. There was no chance for the story, however. There were half a dozen around the table, and I was the furthest removed from Sturtevant. But I kept my eyes upon him, and bided my time, determined that, when he rose to depart, I would go with him.
A silence, suggestive of respectful awe, had fallen upon the party when I took my seat. Everyone had seemed to be thinking, and the attention of all was fixed upon Sturtevant. The cause was apparent. He had been telling the story. I had entered the cafe just too late to hear it. On my right, when I took my seat, was a doctor; on my left a lawyer. Facing me on the other side was a novelist with whom I had some acquaintance. The others were artists and newspaper men.
"It's too bad, Mr. Currier," remarked the doctor; "you should have come a little sooner, Sturtevant has been telling us a story; it is quite wonderfuil, really. I say, Sturtevant, won't you tell that story again, for the benefit of Mr. Currier?" "Why yes. I believe that Currier has, somehow, failed to hear the magic story, although, as a matter of fact, I think he was the first one to whom I mentioned it at all. It was here, in this cafe, too, -at this very table.
Do you remember what a wild night that was, Currier? Wasn't I called to the telephone, or something like that? To be sure! I remember, now; interrupted just at the point when I was beginning the story. After that I told it to three or four fellows, and it 'braced them up,' as it had me. It seems incredible that a mere story can have such a tonic effect upon the success of so many persons who are engaged in such widely different occupations, but that is what it has done. It is a kind of never-failing remedy, like a cough mixture that is warranted to cure everything, from a cold in the head to galloping consumption. There was Parsons, for example. He is a broker, you know, and had been on the wrong side of the market for a month. He had utterly lost his grip, and was on the verge of failure. I happened to meet him at the time he was feeling the bluest, and before we parted, something brought me around to the subject of the story, and I related it to him. It had the same effect on him as it had on me, and has had on everybody who has heard it, as far as I know.
I think you will all agree with me, that it is not the story itself that performs the surgical operation on the minds of those who are familiar with it; it is the way it is told, -in print, I mean. The author has, somehow, produced a psychological effect which is indescribable. The reader is hypnotized. He receives a mental and moral tonic.
Perhaps, doctor, you can give some scientific explanation of the influence exerted by the story. It is a sort of elixir manufactured out of words, eh?" From that the company entered upon a general discussion of theories. Now and then slight references were made to the story itself, and they were just sufficient to tantalize me - the only one present who had not heard it.
At length, I left my chair, and passing around the table, seized Sturtevant by one arm, and succeeded in drawing him away from the party. "If you have any consideration for an old friend who is rapidly being driven mad by the existence of that confounded story, which Fate seems determined that I shall never hear, you will relate it to me now," I said, savagely. Sturtevant stared at me in wild surprise. "All right," he said. "The others will excuse me for a few moments, I think. Sit down here, and you shall have it. I found it pasted in an old scrapbook I purchased in Ann Street, for three cents and there isn't a thing about it by which one can get any idea in what publication it originally appeared, or who wrote it. When I discovered it, I began casually to read it, and in a moment I was interested. Before I left it, I had read it through many times, so that I could repeat it almost word for word. It affected me strangely, -as if I had come in contact with some strong personality.
There seems to be in the story a personal element that applies to every one who reads it. Well, after I had read it several times, I began to think it over. I couldn't stay in the house, so I seized my coat and hat and went out. I must have walked several miles, bouyantly, without realizing that I was the same man, who, in only a short time before, had been in the depths of despondency. That was the day I met you here, -you remember." We were interrupted at that instant by a uniformed messenger, who handed Sturtevant a telegram. It was from his chief, and demanded his instant attendance at the office. The sender had already been delayed an hour, and there was no help for it; he must go at once. "Too bad!" said Sturtevant, rising and extending his hand.
"Tell you what I'll do, old chap. I'm not likely to be gone any more than an hour or two. You take my key and wait for me in my room. In the escritoire near the window you will find an old scrapbook bound in rawhide. It was manufactured, I have no doubt, by the author of the magic story. Wait for me in my room until I return."
I found the book without difficulty. It was a quaint, home-made
affair, covered, as Sturtevant had said, with rawhide, and bound with
leather thongs. The pages formed an odd combination of yellow paper, vellum
and homemade parchment. I found the story, curiously printed on the last-named
material. It was quaint and strange. Evidently, the printer had "set"
it under the supervision of the writer. The phraseology was an unusual
combination of seventeenth and eighteenth century mannerisms, and the
interpolation of italics and capitals could have originated in no other
brain than that of its author. In reproducing the following story, the
peculiarities of type, etc. are eliminated, but in other respects it remains unchanged.