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Today's Stichomancy for William T. Sherman

The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from Enemies of Books by William Blades:

of his name, or upon whom the bibliographical mantle had descended. His post, it seemed, was honorary and a sinecure, being imposed, as a rule, upon the youngest "Fellow." No one cared for the appointment, and as a matter of course the keys of office had but distant acquaintance with the lock. At last I was rewarded with success, and politely, but mutely, conducted by the librarian into his kingdom of dust and silence. The dark portraits of past benefactors looked after us from their dusty old frames in dim astonishment as we passed, evidently wondering whether we meant "work"; book-decay-- that peculiar flavour which haunts certain libraries--

The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from The Jungle by Upton Sinclair:

Jurgis was required to stay in the bath longer than any one, in the vain hope of getting out of him a few of his phosphates and acids. The prisoners roomed two in a cell, but that day there was one left over, and he was the one.

The cells were in tiers, opening upon galleries. His cell was about five feet by seven in size, with a stone floor and a heavy wooden bench built into it. There was no window--the only light came from windows near the roof at one end of the court outside. There were two bunks, one above the other, each with a straw mattress and a pair of gray blankets--the latter stiff as boards with filth, and alive with fleas, bedbugs, and lice. When Jurgis lifted up the mattress

The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from The Three Taverns by Edwin Arlington Robinson:

And if the truth were now but a mummery, Meriting pride's implacable irony, So much the worse for pride. Moreover, Save her or fail, there was conscience always.

Meanwhile, a few misgivings of innocence, Imploring to be sheltered and credited, Were not amiss when she revealed them. Whether she struggled or not, he saw them.

Also, he saw that while she was hearing him Her eyes had more and more of the past in them; And while he told what cautious honor

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 Spirit of the Border by Zane Grey:

a time gittin' away. Milly wus shot. She lived fer awhile, a couple of days, an' all the time wus so patient, an' sweet, an' brave with thet renegade's bullet in her--fer he shot her when he seen he couldn't capture her--thet thar wusn't a blame man of us who wouldn't hev died to grant her prayer, which wus that she could live to onct more see her lover."

There was a long silence, during which the old frontiersman sat gazing into the fire with sad eyes.

"We couldn't do nuthin', an' we buried her thar under thet birch, where she smiled her last sad, sweet smile, an' died. Ever since then the river has been eatn' away at this island. It's only half as big as it wus onct, an' another flood will take away this sand-bar, these few birches--an' Milly's grave."


The Spirit of the Border