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Today's Stichomancy for Ambrose Bierce

The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from Anabasis by Xenophon:

and was exiled from Athens. Sparta gave him land and property in Scillus, where he lived for many years before having to move once more, to settle in Corinth. He died in 354 B.C.

The Anabasis is his story of the march to Persia to aid Cyrus, who enlisted Greek help to try and take the throne from Artaxerxes, and the ensuing return of the Greeks, in which Xenophon played a leading role. This occurred between 401 B.C. and March 399 B.C.


The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from Cousin Pons by Honore de Balzac:

persons of credit are prepared to show that it was the testator's intention to leave his fortune to Mlle. Cecile, daughter of the aforesaid Sieur de Marville, and the applicant can show that the said will was extorted from the testator's weakness, he being unaccountable for his actions at the time:

" 'Whereas as the Sieur Schmucke, to obtain a will in his favor, sequestrated the testator, and prevented the family from approaching the deceased during his last illness; and his subsequent notorious ingratitude was of a nature to scandalize the house and residents in the quarter who chanced to witness it when attending the funeral of the porter at the testator's place of

The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from Nana, Miller's Daughter, Captain Burle, Death of Olivier Becaille by Emile Zola:

Lucy grew nettled. Did he not dare show himself in her company? Then, suddenly restraining herself and skipping to another topic:

"Why haven't you told me that you knew Nana?"

"Nana! I've never set eyes on her."

"Honor bright? I've been told that you've been to bed with her."

But Mignon, coming in front of them, his finger to his lips, made them a sign to be silent. And when Lucy questioned him he pointed out a young man who was passing and murmured:

"Nana's fancy man."

Everybody looked at him. He was a pretty fellow. Fauchery recognized him; it was Daguenet, a young man who had run through

The fourth excerpt represents the element of Earth. It speaks of physical influences and the impact of the unseen on the visible world, and is drawn from The Commission in Lunacy by Honore de Balzac:

brought a cloud to the Marquis' brow. Popinot took pleasure in contemplating the picture of the father and his boys. His eyes went back with a sense of pathos to M. d'Espard's face; his features, his expression, and his manner all expressed honesty in its noblest aspect, intellectual and chivalrous honesty, nobility in all its beauty.

"You--you see, monsieur," said the Marquis, and his hesitation had returned, "you see that Justice may look in--in here at any time--yes, at any time--here. If there is anybody crazy, it can only be the children--the children--who are a little crazy about their father, and the father who is very crazy about his children--but that sort of