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Today's Stichomancy for Chris Elliott

The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from Dawn O'Hara, The Girl Who Laughed by Edna Ferber:

plaything of mine. Perhaps your little Blackie realizes that he need have no fear of such things, for the Great Fear is upon him."

"The Great Fear! You mean!--"

"I mean that there are too many fine little lines radiating from the corners of the sunken eyes, and that his hand-clasp leaves a moisture in the palm. Ach! you may laugh. Come, we will change the subject to something more cheerful, yes? Tell me, how grows the book?"

"By inches. After working all day on a bulletin paper whose city editor is constantly shouting: `Boil it

The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from Cratylus by Plato:

such that at last no human being can possibly make out the original meaning of the word. Another example is the word sphigx, sphiggos, which ought properly to be phigx, phiggos, and there are other examples.

HERMOGENES: That is quite true, Socrates.

SOCRATES: And yet, if you are permitted to put in and pull out any letters which you please, names will be too easily made, and any name may be adapted to any object.

HERMOGENES: True.

SOCRATES: Yes, that is true. And therefore a wise dictator, like yourself, should observe the laws of moderation and probability.

HERMOGENES: Such is my desire.

The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from Master and Man by Leo Tolstoy:

hand before his nose in a strange manner just as if he were driving away flies. He waved his hand and said something, and seemed to Vasili Andreevich to be calling him. Vasili Andreevich left the cloth unadjusted and went up to the sledge.

'What is it?' he asked. 'What are you saying?'

'I'm dy . . . ing, that's what,' said Nikita brokenly and with difficulty. 'Give what is owing to me to my lad, or to my wife, no matter.'

'Why, are you really frozen?' asked Vasili Andreevich.

'I feel it's my death. Forgive me for Christ's sake . . .' said Nikita in a tearful voice, continuing to wave his hand


Master and Man
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 Letters of Two Brides by Honore de Balzac:

If I have some delightful hours, it is when they are asleep and I am no longer needed to rock the one or soothe the other with stories. When I have them sleeping by my side, I say to myself, "Nothing can go wrong now." The fact is, my sweet, every mother spends her time, so soon as her children are out of her sight, in imagining dangers for them. Perhaps it is Armand seizing the razors to play with, or his coat taking fire, or a snake biting him, or he might tumble in running and start an abscess on his head, or he might drown himself in a pond. A mother's life, you see, is one long succession of dramas, now soft and tender, now terrible. Not an hour but has its joys and fears.

But at night, in my room, comes the hour for waking dreams, when I