|The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from Unconscious Comedians by Honore de Balzac:
solemnity of the valet as he performed his functions, the "pedicure of
monsieur" was announced, and Publicola Masson, a little man fifty
years of age, made his appearance, laid a small box of instruments on
the floor, and sat down on a small chair opposite to Leon, after
bowing to Gazonal and Bixiou.
"How are matters going with you?" asked Leon, delivering to Publicola
one of his feet, already washed and prepared by the valet.
"I am forced to take two pupils,--two young fellows who, despairing of
fortune, have quitted surgery for corporistics; they were actually
dying of hunger; and yet they are full of talent."
"I'm not asking you about pedestrial affairs, I want to know how you
|The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from Some Reminiscences by Joseph Conrad:
this is an impression which is hardly to be believed at this
distance of years. What I am certain of is, that I was very far
from thinking of writing a story, though it is possible and even
likely that I was thinking of the man Almayer.
I had seen him for the first time some four years before from the
bridge of a steamer moored to a rickety little wharf forty miles
up, more or less, a Bornean river. It was very early morning and
a slight mist, an opaline mist as in Bessborough Gardens only
without the fiery flicks on roof and chimney-pot from the rays of
the red London sun, promised to turn presently into a woolly fog.
Barring a small dug-out canoe on the river there was nothing
|The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from Rise and Fall of Cesar Birotteau by Honore de Balzac:
pallet to sleep upon in the garret near the cook. The clerks who
taught him to pack the goods, to do the errands, and sweep up the shop
and the pavement, made fun of him as they did so, according to the
manners and customs of shop-keeping, in which chaff is a principal
element of instruction. Monsieur and Madame Ragon spoke to him like a
dog. No one paid attention to his weariness, though many a night his
feet, blistered by the pavements of Paris, and his bruised shoulders,
made him suffer horribly. This harsh application of the maxim "each
for himself,"--the gospel of large cities,--made Cesar think the life
of Paris very hard. At night he cried as he thought of Touraine, where
the peasant works at his ease, where the mason lays a stone between
Rise and Fall of Cesar Birotteau
|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 Twenty Years After by Alexandre Dumas:
"Oh! the past is another thing," said Athos, sighing; "the
past and the future."
"Are you afraid for your young Raoul?" asked Aramis.
"Well," said D'Artagnan, "one is never killed in a first
"Nor in the second," said Aramis
"Nor in the third," returned Porthos; "and even when one is
killed, one rises again, the proof of which is, that here we
"No," said Athos, "it is not Raoul about whom I am anxious,
for I trust he will conduct himself like a gentleman; and if
Twenty Years After