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Today's Stichomancy for Neal Stephenson

The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from The Mad King by Edgar Rice Burroughs:

upon the edge of the town, in an orchard, that the sentinel was posted. Barney, approaching through the trees, darting from one to another, was within a few paces of the man be- fore he saw him.

The American remained quietly in the shadow of a tree waiting for an opportunity to escape, but before it came he heard the approach of a small body of troops. They were coming from the village directly toward the orchard. They passed the sentry and marched within a dozen feet of the tree behind which Barney was hiding.

As they came opposite him he slipped around the tree to


The Mad King
The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne:

those rich lace ruffles at your wrists! Is it my crime if you have sold your daughter for the mere hope of getting a sheet of yellow parchment into your clutch? There sits Mistress Alice quietly asleep. Now let Matthew Maule try whether she be as proud as the carpenter found her awhile since."

He spoke, and Alice responded, with a soft, subdued, inward acquiescence, and a bending of her form towards him, like the flame of a torch when it indicates a gentle draught of air. He beckoned with his hand, and, rising from her chair,--blindly, but undoubtingly, as tending to her sure and inevitable centre, --the proud Alice approached him. He waved her back, and,


House of Seven Gables
The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from Madame Firmiani by Honore de Balzac:

a discussion and stop it at the right moment. Her manner is affable and smiling, her politeness never forced, her readiness to serve others never servile; she reduces the respect she claims to a soft shadow; she never wearies you, and you leave her satisfied with her and with yourself. Her charming grace is conveyed to all the things with which she surrounds herself. Everything about her pleases the eye; in her presence you breathe, as it were, your native air. This woman is natural. There is no effort about her; she is aiming at no effect; her feelings are shown simply, because they are true. Frank herself, she does not wound the vanity of others; she accepts men as God made them; pitying the vicious, forgiving defects and absurdities,

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 Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll:

herself sitting on the ground, breathless and giddy.

The Queen propped her up against a tree, and said kindly, `You may rest a little now.'

Alice looked round her in great surprise. `Why, I do believe we've been under this tree the whole time! Everything's just as it was!'

`Of course it is,' said the Queen, `what would you have it?'

`Well, in OUR country,' said Alice, still panting a little, `you'd generally get to somewhere else--if you ran very fast for a long time, as we've been doing.'

`A slow sort of country!' said the Queen. `Now, HERE, you see,


Through the Looking-Glass