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Today's Stichomancy for Isaac Asimov

The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from The House of Dust by Conrad Aiken:

And one, with death in his eyes, comes walking slowly And sees the shadow of death in many faces, And thinks the world is strange. He desires immortal music and spring forever, And beauty that knows no change.


We sit together and talk, or smoke in silence. You say (but use no words) 'this night is passing As other nights when we are dead will pass . . .' Perhaps I misconstrue you: you mean only, 'How deathly pale my face looks in that glass . . .'

The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from The Divine Comedy (translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) by Dante Alighieri:

After so great a vision his affections.

Let thy protection conquer human movements; See Beatrice and all the blessed ones My prayers to second clasp their hands to thee!"

The eyes beloved and revered of God, Fastened upon the speaker, showed to us How grateful unto her are prayers devout;

Then unto the Eternal Light they turned, On which it is not credible could be By any creature bent an eye so clear.

And I, who to the end of all desires

The Divine Comedy (translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)
The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from Vendetta by Honore de Balzac:

kindness, his gentleness were known only to his wife and daughter. In his functions, or in presence of strangers, he never laid aside the majesty that time had impressed upon his person; and the habit of frowning with his heavy eyebrows, contracting the wrinkles of his face, and giving to his eyes a Napoleonic fixity, made his manner of accosting others icy.

During the course of his political life he had been so generally feared that he was thought unsocial, and it is not difficult to explain the causes of that opinion. The life, morals, and fidelity of Piombo made him obnoxious to most courtiers. In spite of the fact that delicate missions were constantly intrusted to his discretion which to

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 Melmoth Reconciled by Honore de Balzac:

account there. Is it not there that I should go to traffic in souls?"

Castanier went quite joyously on 'Change, thinking that it would be as easy to buy a soul as to invest money in the Funds. Any ordinary person would have feared ridicule, but Castanier knew by experience that a desperate man takes everything seriously. A prisoner lying under sentence of death would listen to the madman who should tell him that by pronouncing some gibberish he could escape through the keyhole; for suffering is credulous, and clings to an idea until it fails, as the swimmer borne along by the current clings to the branch that snaps in his hand.

Towards four o'clock that afternoon Castanier appeared among the