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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 Rezanov by Gertrude Atherton:

"I am not a bride. I knew we should kneel to- gether--it would have been ridiculous. And I could not wear a colored reboso to-day."

"I should have liked to fancy we were here for our nuptials. Delusions pass but are none the less sweet for that."

They knelt before the altar, the Commandante, Dona Ignacia, Luis, Santiago, Rafaella Sal and Elena Castro just behind; the rest of the party, their bright garments shimmering vaguely in the gloom, as they listened; and enough fervent prayers

The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from Tom Sawyer Abroad by Mark Twain:

vultures hadn't meddled with them, and so that guess wouldn't do. So at last we give it up, and judged we wouldn't think about it no more, because it made us low-spirited.

Then we opened the box, and it had gems and jewels in it, quite a pile, and some little veils of the kind the dead women had on, with fringes made out of curious gold money that we warn't acquainted with. We wondered if we better go and try to find them again and give it back; but Tom thought it over and said no, it was a country that was full of robbers, and they

The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from The Wrong Box by Stevenson & Osbourne:

shillings per annum.'

'Yes, I know,' returned Michael, 'but that's not including clothes, washing, or boots. The whole thing, with cigars and occasional sprees, costs me over seven hundred a year.'

But this was Michael's last interruption. He listened in good-humoured silence to the remainder of his uncle's lecture, which speedily branched to political reform, thence to the theory of the weather-glass, with an illustrative account of a bora in the Adriatic; thence again to the best manner of teaching arithmetic to the deaf-and-dumb; and with that, the sandwich being then no more, explicuit valde feliciter. A moment later the

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 Hiero by Xenophon:

alone of all men is in this dilemma, that neither to keep nor lay aside his troubles profits him.

[22] Or, "nought more profitable to meet the case." The author plays on {lusitelei} according to his wont.


Here Simonides took up the thread of the discourse[1] as follows: That for the moment, Hiero, you should be out of heart regarding tyranny[2] I do not wonder, since you have a strong desire to be loved by human beings, and you are persuaded that it is your office which balks the realisation of your dream.

[1] Al. "took up the speaker thus."