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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 From London to Land's End by Daniel Defoe:

threshold, he chopped off his tail. And having thus effectually dishonoured the poor cur among his neighbours, he tied a string about his neck, and a piece of paper to the string, directed to his master, and with these witty West Country verses on it:-

"To my honoured master,--Esq. "Hail master a cham a' com hoam, So cut as an ape, and tail have I noan, For stealing of beef and pork out of the pail, For thease they'v cut my ears, for th' wother my tail; Nea measter, and us tell thee more nor that And's come there again, my brains will be flat."

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

company, two tough old shipmen; and till that ye return I will go warrant these brave fellows will bide here and drink me cup for cup. We are not like shore-men, we old, tough tarry-Johns!"

"It is well meant," returned the skipper. "Ye can go, boy; for I will keep your good friend and my good gossip company till curfew - ay, and by St. Mary, till the sun get up again! For, look ye, when a man hath been long enough at sea, the salt getteth me into the clay upon his bones; and let him drink a draw-well, he will never be quenched."

Thus encouraged upon all hands, Dick rose, saluted his company, and going forth again into the gusty afternoon, got him as speedily as

The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from Shadow out of Time by H. P. Lovecraft:

of aisles and corridors - recognising now and then some familiar shelf, and vaguely annoyed by the acoustic conditions which made my footfalls echo incongruously in these catacombs. The very prints of my shoes behind me in the millennially untrodden dust made me shudder. Never before, if my mad dreams held anything of truth, had human feet pressed upon those immemorial pavements.

Of the particular goal of my insane racing, my conscious mind held no hint. There was, however, some force of evil potency pulling at my dazed will and buried recollection, so that I vaguely felt I was not running at random.


Shadow out of Time
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 Golden Threshold by Sarojini Naidu:

We weave the robes of a new-born child.

Weavers, weaving at fall of night, Why do you weave a garment so bright? . . . Like the plumes of a peacock, purple and green, We weave the marriage-veils of a queen.

Weavers, weaving solemn and still, What do you weave in the moonlight chill? . . . White as a feather and white as a cloud, We weave a dead man's funeral shroud.

COROMANDEL FISHERS

Rise, brothers, rise, the wakening skies pray