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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 A Sentimental Journey by Laurence Sterne:

IS THY UNDERSTANDING TROUBLED?" - In a word, I felt benevolence for her; and resolv'd some way or other to throw in my mite of courtesy, - if not of service.

Such were my temptations; - and in this disposition to give way to them, was I left alone with the lady with her hand in mine, and with our faces both turned closer to the door of the Remise than what was absolutely necessary.


THIS certainly, fair lady, said I, raising her hand up little lightly as I began, must be one of Fortune's whimsical doings; to take two utter strangers by their hands, - of different sexes, and

The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from American Notes by Rudyard Kipling:

impressions in diaries and note-books, which they wrote up ostentatiously in the verandas. It was a sweltering hot day, albeit we stood some-what higher than the level of Simla, and I left that raw pine creaking caravansary for the cool shade of a clump of pines between whose trunks glimmered tents.

A batch of United States troopers came down the road and flung themselves across the country into their rough lines. The Melican cavalryman can ride, though he keeps his accoutrements pig-fashion and his horse cow-fashion.

I was free of that camp in five minutes--free to play with the heavy, lumpy carbines, have the saddles stripped, and punch the

The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from Marie by H. Rider Haggard:

us, O Macumazahn, Son of George," and he cast his assegai to the ground.

"Come," I said, and led them to the wagons.



As I advanced to the wagons accompanied by Kambula and his two companions, I saw that Marais, in a state of great excitement, was engaged in haranguing the two Prinsloo men and Meyer, while the Vrouw Prinsloo and Marie appeared to be attempting to calm him.

"They are unarmed," I heard him shout. "Let us seize the black devils and hold them as hostages."

Thereon, led by Marais, the three Boer men came towards us doubtfully,

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 Old Indian Legends by Zitkala-Sa:

deerskins, with long tinkling metal fringes, strode in small numbers toward the center of the round camp ground.

Here underneath a temporary shade-house of green leaves they were to dance and feast. The children in deerskins and paints, just like their elders, were jolly little men and women. Beside their eager parents they skipped along toward the green dance house.

Here seated in a large circle, the people were assembled, the proud chieftain rose with the little baby in his arms. The noisy hum of voices was hushed. Not a tinkling of a metal fringe broke the silence. The crier came forward to greet the chieftain, then