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Jean Henri Fabre
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 211 pages of information about The Life of the Spider.

Intolerant of these familiarities, the Spider shakes the leg encroached upon and flings the intruders to a distance.  The assault is doggedly resumed, to such good purpose that a dozen succeed in hoisting themselves to the top.  The Epeira, who is not accustomed to the tickling of such a load, turns over on her back and rolls on the ground in the manner of a donkey when his hide is itching.  Some are lamed, some are even crushed.  This does not deter the others, who repeat the escalade as soon as the Epeira is on her legs again.  Then come more somersaults, more rollings on the back, until the giddy swarm are all discomfited and leave the Spider in peace.

CHAPTER IV:  THE NARBONNE LYCOSA:  THE BURROW

Michelet {23} has told us how, as a printer’s apprentice in a cellar, he established amicable relations with a Spider.  At a certain hour of the day, a ray of sunlight would glint through the window of the gloomy workshop and light up the little compositor’s case.  Then his eight-legged neighbour would come down from her web and take her share of the sunshine on the edge of the case.  The boy did not interfere with her; he welcomed the trusting visitor as a friend and as a pleasant diversion from the long monotony.  When we lack the society of our fellow-men, we take refuge in that of animals, without always losing by the change.

I do not, thank God, suffer from the melancholy of a cellar:  my solitude is gay with light and verdure; I attend, whenever I please, the fields’ high festival, the Thrushes’ concert, the Crickets’ symphony; and yet my friendly commerce with the Spider is marked by an even greater devotion than the young typesetter’s.  I admit her to the intimacy of my study, I make room for her among my books, I set her in the sun on my window-ledge, I visit her assiduously at her home, in the country.  The object of our relations is not to create a means of escape from the petty worries of life, pin-pricks whereof I have my share like other men, a very large share, indeed; I propose to submit to the Spider a host of questions whereto, at times, she condescends to reply.

To what fair problems does not the habit of frequenting her give rise!  To set them forth worthily, the marvellous art which the little printer was to acquire were not too much.  One needs the pen of a Michelet; and I have but a rough, blunt pencil.  Let us try, nevertheless:  even when poorly clad, truth is still beautiful.

I will therefore once more take up the story of the Spider’s instinct, a story of which the preceding chapters have given but a very rough idea.  Since I wrote those earlier essays, my field of observation has been greatly extended.  My notes have been enriched by new and most remarkable facts.  It is right that I should employ them for the purpose of a more detailed biography.

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