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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 Falk by Joseph Conrad:

Hermann began in a homely and amicable voice; and Falk had a low, nervous laugh. His cool, neg- ligent undertone had no inflexions, but the strength of a powerful emotion made him ramble in his speech. He had always desired a home. It was difficult to live alone, though he was not answera- ble. He was domestic; there had been difficulties; but since he had seen Hermann's niece he found that it had become at last impossible to live by him- self. "I mean--impossible," he repeated with no sort of emphasis and only with the slightest of

The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from The Rape of Lucrece by William Shakespeare:

From forth dull sleep by dreadful fancy waking, That thinks she hath beheld some ghastly sprite, Whose grim aspect sets every joint a shaking: What terror 'tis! but she, in worser taking, From sleep disturbed, heedfully doth view The sight which makes supposed terror true.

Wrapp'd and confounded in a thousand fears, Like to a new-kill'd bird she trembling lies; She dares not look; yet, winking, there appears Quick-shifting antics, ugly in her eyes: Such shadows are the weak brain's forgeries:

The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from Ferragus by Honore de Balzac:

Could I stay there, holding your head, and suspecting thoughts within it to me unknown? Oh! I believe in you, I believe in you!" he cried, seeing her smile sadly and open her mouth as if to speak. "Say nothing; do not reproach me. Besides, could you say anything I have not said myself for the last three hours? Yes, for three hours, I have been here, watching you as you slept, so beautiful! admiring that pure, peaceful brow. Yes, yes! you have always told me your thoughts, have you not? I alone am in that soul. While I look at you, while my eyes can plunge into yours I see all plainly. Your life is as pure as your glance is clear. No, there is no secret behind those transparent eyes." He rose and kissed their lids. "Let me avow to you, dearest

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 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne:

to my companions.

"If Captain Nemo does sometimes go on dry ground," said I, "he at least chooses desert islands."

Ned Land shrugged his shoulders without speaking, and Conseil and he left me.

After supper, which was served by the steward, mute and impassive, I went to bed, not without some anxiety.

The next morning, the 17th of November, on awakening, I felt that the Nautilus was perfectly still. I dressed quickly and entered the saloon.

Captain Nemo was there, waiting for me. He rose, bowed,

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea