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Carolyn Sherwin Bailey

Mother Spider

I T was a beautiful day in midsummer. The meadow was alive with busy little people astir in the bright sunlight. A long line of ants came crawling down the path, carrying provisions to their home under the elm tree; and an old toad came hopping down through the grass, blinking in the warm sun. just a little higher up the bees were droning drowsily as they flew from flower to flower; and above them all, seeming almost in the blue sky, a robin was calling to his mate.

Pretty soon Mrs. Spider came down the path. She seemed to be in a great hurry. She looked neither to the right nor to the left, but kept straight ahead, holding tightly to a little, white bag which she carried in her mouth. She was just rushing past Mr. Toad when a big, black beetle came bumping by, stumbled against Mrs. Spider and knocked the bag out of her mouth.

In an instant Mrs. Spider pounced down upon him, and, though he was so much bigger than she, he tumbled over on his back. While he was trying to kick himself right side up once more, Mrs. Spider made a quick little dash, took up her bag, and scuttled off through the grass.

"Well, I never!" said Grasshopper Green, who was playing see-saw on a blade of grass.

"No, nor I," grumbled Mr. Beetle, as he wriggled back to his feet. "I didn't want her bag. She needn't have made such a fuss."

"She must have had something very fine in that bag," said Grasshopper Green, "for she was so frightened when she dropped it. I wonder what it was"—and he balanced himself on his grass blade until a stray breeze blew him off, and then he straightway forgot about Mrs. Spider altogether.

Two weeks after this, Grasshopper Green started out for a little exercise before breakfast. Just as he reached the edge of the brook, he saw Mrs. Spider coming toward him. She was moving quite slowly, and no longer carried the little, white bag. As she came nearer, he could see that she had something on her back.

"Good morning, neighbor," called Grasshopper Green; "can I help you carry your things?"

"Thank you," she said, "but they wouldn't stay with you, even if they could stay on when you give such great jumps."

"They!" said Grasshopper Green. And then, as he came nearer, he saw that the things on Mrs. Spider's back were wee, little baby spiders.

"Aren't they pretty children?" she asked, proudly. "I was so afraid that something would happen to my eggs that I never let go of the bag once, except when that stupid Mr. Beetle knocked it out of my mouth."

"O-ho," said Grasshopper Green, "so that was what frightened you so! Your bag was full of eggs! and, now, you are going to carry all those children on your back? Doesn't it tire you dreadfully?"

"I don't mind that a bit," said Mrs. Spider, "if only the children are well and safe. In a little while, you know, they will be able to run about by themselves, and then we shall be so happy here in the meadow grass. Oh, it's well worth the trouble, neighbor Grasshopper."

"Yes," said Grasshopper Green, "I have a dozen wee boys of my own at home; and that reminds me that it is time to go home to breakfast! Good-bye, neighbor. I hope the children will soon be running about with you. You certainly are taking good care of them. Good-bye."

Then home he went; and proud, happy Mother Spider kept on her way to hunt for a breakfast for the babies she loved so well.

— Frances Bliss Gilespy, "Kindergarten Review"