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Today's Stichomancy for John Von Neumann

The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from A Distinguished Provincial at Paris by Honore de Balzac:

"Isn't it nice?" she said coaxingly. "You would be more comfortable here, wouldn't you, than in a garret?--You won't let her do anything rash?" she continued, setting a costly stand before him, covered with dishes abstracted from her mistress' dinner-table, lest the cook should suspect that her mistress had a lover in the house.

Lucien made a good dinner. Berenice waiting on him, the dishes were of wrought silver, the painted porcelain plates had cost a louis d'or apiece. The luxury was producing exactly the same effect upon him that the sight of a girl walking the pavement, with her bare flaunting throat and neat ankles, produces upon a schoolboy.

"How lucky Camusot is!" cried he.

The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from Tales and Fantasies by Robert Louis Stevenson:

Alas! poor Richard, what should this portend?

The servant, as in duty bound, dismounted and took the phaeton into his keeping; yet Dick thought he touched his hat to him with something of a grin. Esther, passive as ever, was helped out and crossed the garden with a slow and mechanical gait; and Dick, following close behind her, heard from within the cottage his father's voice upraised in an anathema, and the shriller tones of the Admiral responding in the key of war.

CHAPTER VIII - BATTLE ROYAL

SQUIRE NASEBY, on sitting down to lunch, had inquired for

The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce:

sentinels fired again, independently and ineffectually.

The hunted man saw all this over his shoulder; he was now swimming vigorously with the current. His brain was as energetic as his arms and legs; he thought with the rapidity of lightning:

"The officer," he reasoned, "will not make that martinet's error a second time. It is as easy to dodge a volley as a single shot. He has probably already given the command to fire at will. God help me, I cannot dodge them all!"

An appalling splash within two yards of him was followed by a loud, rushing sound, DIMINUENDO, which seemed to travel back


An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge
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 Out of Time's Abyss by Edgar Rice Burroughs:

that he had seen aught to surprise him, though surprised he was for the face in the aperture was that of the girl he had but just left hidden beneath the hides in another chamber. A white and shapely arm now pushed past the face into the room, and in the hand, tightly clutched, was the curved blade, smeared with blood, that Bradley had dropped beneath the hides at the moment he had been discovered and drawn from his concealment.

"Listen, then," said Bradley in a low voice to the Wieroo. "You shall know the secret of cos-ata-lu as well as do I; but none other may hear it. Lean close--I will whisper it into your ear."


Out of Time's Abyss