The Mean Spider, by Jeannette Marks
Cricket and Others
Old Stingy sat in the midst of his spider-web, as some old Giant used to
sit in his fortress waiting to pounce upon innocent people to kill them
and eat them. Stingy's shoulders were all humped up, and his eight claws
looked very ugly. He had already tangled up one Noisy Fly, and now he
sat waiting for another. Everybody hated him; even Toadie Todson went
out of his way to give a lazy snap at Stingy.
All day long Stingy spun webs, caught noisy flies and even other
spiders, and yet nobody ever knew what he did with his webs or with the
flies he caught. Stingy had never been heard to say one word, and when
he wanted exercise, he hung by his leg to a thin cobweb and dangled up
and down. But if he saw anything coming he gave a jump, and back he went
again into his web. There he would sit with his shoulders humped and his
big mean black eyes fairly popping out of his head.
For once in his life Stingy was feeling a little sleepy the evening that
something happened to him. All day long the wind had been blowing very
hard, and Stingy had to rebuild a great many cobwebs that were blown
down. Suddenly he started up. Something was struggling in his web. What
do you suppose it was? Nothing less than a beautiful little
yellow-winged moth that was caught and was beating his wings and
fluttering to get out. Stingy rose slowly and moved his humpy shoulders
toward the moth. Quietly he stole on and in a minute more the moth would
be choked to death. On, on went Stingy, the tiny yellow moth fluttering
more and more feebly. But just at the moment Stingy was almost on the
moth, a beak ripped open the web and Stingy went tumbling to the ground
while the yellow moth fluttered away toward the waxy white flowers of
the nearest syringa bush. The moth had time to see Hummy go whirring
off, and that night she told the fireflies and glow-worms and other
moths all about it. And each one had some other good deed of Hummy's to
But perhaps you would like to know what became of Stingy? When the web
was broken and he tumbled to the ground, he fell into the open mouth of
the Frisky Frog, who gave a comfortable croak as he swallowed him.
Nobody was sorry that Stingy was swallowed. Mrs. Cricky said it served
him right, but then, poor Mrs. Cricky's good wishes were often lost in
anxiety, lest harm should come to one of her own little Cricketses, for
Stingy, fifteen days before, had been known to smother and eat a little
cricket not more than a minute old. Mrs. Cricky herself would probably
have been the last person to hurt Stingy, only she could not help
feeling relieved; she said it wasn't in cricket-nature to feel
Father Cricky was usually too busy singing songs for the Marsh Grass
Vesper Quartette to make remarks. But this time he agreed with Mrs.
Cricky and said they would all better have their evening song and go to
sleep. And this was the song they sang:
Not too fast_
Come, see where the night winds sleep
And the dews fall on the ground,
While the trees a-rustling keep,
And the stars turn round and round.
There little frogs leap and croak,
And little eels slip and slide,
And the crabs lie still and soak,
While the marsh is singing wide.
The sand hills sleep 'neath the moon
And blink away at the sea,
While they sing a little sand tune
Which is plain as plain can be.
Say, my little one,
Bye-bye to the day.