|The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from The Alkahest by Honore de Balzac:
researches of three centuries. Among them were choice specimens of
Rubens, Ruysdael, Vandyke, Terburg, Gerard Dow, Teniers, Mieris, Paul
Potter, Wouvermans, Rembrandt, Hobbema, Cranach, and Holbein. French
and Italian pictures were in a minority, but all were authentic and
Another generation had fancied Chinese and Japanese porcelains: this
Claes was eager after rare furniture, that one for silver-ware; in
fact, each and all had their mania, their passion,--a trait which
belongs in a striking degree to the Flemish character. The father of
Balthazar, a last relic of the once famous Dutch society, left behind
him the finest known collection of tulips.
|The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving:
grasshoppers'; he carried his whip perpendicularly in his hand,
like a sceptre, and as his horse jogged on, the motion of his
arms was not unlike the flapping of a pair of wings. A small wool
hat rested on the top of his nose, for so his scanty strip of
forehead might be called, and the skirts of his black coat
fluttered out almost to the horses tail. Such was the appearance
of Ichabod and his steed as they shambled out of the gate of Hans
Van Ripper, and it was altogether such an apparition as is seldom
to be met with in broad daylight.
It was, as I have said, a fine autumnal day; the sky was
clear and serene, and nature wore that rich and golden livery
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
|The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from The Oakdale Affair by Edgar Rice Burroughs:
full mile beyond the Squibbs' home. As he approached
the door a lank, sallow man confronted him with a sus-
"Good morning," greeted The Oskaloosa Kid.
The man grunted.
"I want to get something to eat," explained the youth.
If the boy had hurled a dynamite bomb at him the
result could have been no more surprising. The lank,
sallow man went up into the air, figuratively. He went
up a mile or more, and on the way down he reached his
hand inside the kitchen door and brought it forth en-
The Oakdale Affair
|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 Gift of the Magi by O. Henry:
and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they
are wisest. They are the magi.
End of this Project Gutenberg Etext of THE GIFT OF THE MAGI.
The Gift of the Magi