|The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from Massimilla Doni by Honore de Balzac:
sell themselves rather than bow to a neighbor; they fell too low ever
to rise again. The Guelphs are triumphant."
"Do not pity us too much," said the Duchess, in a voice that made the
two friends start. "We are still supreme. Even in the depths of her
misfortune Italy governs through the choicer spirits that abound in
"Unfortunately the greater number of her geniuses learn to understand
life so quickly that they lie sunk in poverty-stricken pleasure. As
for those who are willing to play the melancholy game for immortality,
they know how to get at your gold and to secure your praises. Ay, in
this land--pitied for its fallen state by traveled simpletons and
|The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from Early Short Fiction of Edith Wharton by Edith Wharton:
after listening in vain for any sound of voices within, she
quickly crossed the threshold, and found her husband alone,
vaguely fingering the papers on his desk.
He looked up, as if surprised at her precipitate entrance, but
the shadow of anxiety had passed from his face, leaving it even,
as she fancied, a little brighter and clearer than usual.
"What was it? Who was it?" she asked.
"Who?" he repeated, with the surprise still all on his side.
"The man we saw coming toward the house."
He seemed honestly to reflect. "The man? Why, I thought I saw
Peters; I dashed after him to say a word about the stable-drains,
|The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg by Mark Twain:
So he began, in a dazed and sleep-walker fashion:
"'The remark which I made to the unhappy stranger was this: "You
are far from being a bad man. [The house gazed at him marvelling.]
Go, and reform."' [Murmurs: "Amazing! what can this mean?"] This
one," said the Chair, "is signed Thurlow G. Wilson."
"There!" cried Wilson, "I reckon that settles it! I knew perfectly
well my note was purloined."
"Purloined!" retorted Billson. "I'll let you know that neither you
nor any man of your kidney must venture to--"
The Chair: "Order, gentlemen, order! Take your seats, both of you,
The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg
|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 Don Quixote by Miquel de Cervantes:
On this accursed bed Don Quixote stretched himself, and the
hostess and her daughter soon covered him with plasters from top to
toe, while Maritornes- for that was the name of the Asturian- held the
light for them, and while plastering him, the hostess, observing how
full of wheals Don Quixote was in some places, remarked that this
had more the look of blows than of a fall.
It was not blows, Sancho said, but that the rock had many points and
projections, and that each of them had left its mark. "Pray,
senora," he added, "manage to save some tow, as there will be no
want of some one to use it, for my loins too are rather sore."
"Then you must have fallen too," said the hostess.