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Today's Stichomancy for Muhammad Ali

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

invented judges and courts of law to secure their goods, and the guillotine--that candle in which so many lie in silk, under silken coverlets, there is remorse, and grinding of teeth beneath a smile, and those fantastical lions' jaws are gaping to set their fangs in your heart."

" ' "Protest the bill! Can you mean it?" she cried, with her eyes upon me; "could you have so little consideration for me?"

" ' "If the King himself owed money to me, madame, and did not pay it, I should summons him even sooner than any other debtor."

" 'While we were speaking, somebody tapped gently at the door.

" ' "I cannot see any one," she cried imperiously.

The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from Stories From the Old Attic by Robert Harris:

party with a girl who's all wet and disheveled, looking like a drowned rat? You want people to laugh at me? Think of somebody besides yourself for a change. Now fix your makeup and keep your mouth shut."


Once upon a time a dozen or so curious travelers rented a boat for a cruise out to an enchanted island, where, it was said, Athena sat on her throne dispensing rich gifts to all. The trip was smooth enough for awhile, with only a few rough seas to endure and an occasional shoal to avoid. But then one morning one of the passengers discovered that the boat was taking on water.

The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from Rivers to the Sea by Sara Teasdale:

My crown shall stay a sweet and secret thing Kept pure with prayer at evensong and morn, And when you come to take it from my head, I shall not weep, nor will a word be said, But I shall kneel before you, oh my king, And bind my brow forever with a thorn.


WE held the book together timidly, Whose antique music in an alien tongue Once rose among the dew-drenched vines that hung Beneath a high Castilian balcony.

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 Albert Savarus by Honore de Balzac:

full, insistent will which is concentrated in the feeling called desire, and thus assumes the nature of a vehement command. Did the flame of that gaze reach Francesca? Was Francesca expecting each instant to see Rodolphe? In a few minutes she stole a glance at the door, as though magnetized by this current of love, and her eyes, without reserve, looked deep into Rodolphe's. A slight thrill quivered through that superb face and beautiful body; the shock to her spirit reacted: Francesca blushed! Rodolphe felt a whole life in this exchange of looks, so swift that it can only be compared to a lightning flash. But to what could his happiness compare? He was loved. The lofty Princess, in the midst of her world, in this handsome

Albert Savarus