by E.B. White
Charlotte and Wilbur were alone. The families had gone to look for
Templeton was asleep. Wilbur lay resting after the excitement and strain
ceremony. His medal still hung from his neck; by looking out of the corner
his eye he could see it.
“Charlotte,” said Wilbur after awhile, “why are you so quiet?”
“I like to sit still,” she said. “I’ve always been rather quiet.”
“Yes, but you seem specially so today. Do you feel all right?”
“A little tired, perhaps. But I feel peaceful. Your success in the ring
morning was, to a small degree, my success. Your future is assured. You
live, secure and safe, Wilbur. Nothing can harm you now. These autumn days
will shorten and grow cold. The leaves will shake loose from the trees and
Christmas will come, and the snows of winter. You will live to enjoy the
of the frozen world, for you mean a great deal to Zuckerman and he will
harm you, ever. Winter will pass, the days will lengthen, the ice will
melt in the
pasture pond. The song sparrow will return and sing, the frogs will awake,
warm wind will blow again. All these sights and sounds and smells will be
to enjoy, Wilbur—this lovely world, these precious days…”
Charlotte stopped. A moment later a tear came to Wilbur’s eye. “Oh,
Charlotte,” he said. “To think that when I first met you I thought you
When he recovered from his emotion, he spoke again.
“Why did you do all this for me?” he asked. “I don’t deserve it. I’ve
done anything for you.”
“You have been my friend,” replied Charlotte. “That in itself is a
thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a
anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t
being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By
you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows
can stand a little of that.”
“Well,” said Wilbur. “I’m no good at making speeches. I haven’t got
for words. But you have saved me, Charlotte, and I would gladly give my
you—I really would.”
“I’m sure you would. And I thank you for your generous sentiments.”
“Charlotte,” said Wilbur. “We’re all going home today. The Fair is
over. Won’t it be wonderful to be back home in the barn cellar again with
sheep and the geese? Aren’t you anxious to get home?”
For a moment Charlotte said nothing. Then she spoke in a voice so low
Wilbur could hardly hear the words.
“I will not be going back to the barn,” she said.
Wilbur leapt to his feet. “Not going back?” he cried. “Charlotte, what are
“I’m done for,” she replied. “In a day or two I’ll be dead. I haven’t
strength enough to climb down into the crate. I doubt if I have enough
my spinnerets to lower me to the ground.”
Hearing this, Wilbur threw himself down in an agony of pain and sorrow.
Great sobs wracked his body. He heaved and grunted with desolation.
“Charlotte,” he moaned. “Charlotte! My true friend!”
“Come now, let’s not make a scene,” said the spider. “Be quiet, Wilbur.
Stop thrashing about!”
“But I can’t stand it,” shouted Wilbur. “I won’t leave you here alone
to die. If
you’re going to stay here I shall stay, too.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” said Charlotte. “You can’t stay here. Zuckerman
Lurvy and John Arable and the others will be back any minute now, and
shove you into that crate and away you’ll go. Besides, it wouldn’t make
sense for you to stay. There would be no one to feed you. The fair Ground
soon be empty and deserted.”
Wilbur was in a panic. He raced round and round the pen. Suddenly he
an idea—he thought of the egg sac and the five hundred and fourteen little
spiders that would hatch in the spring. If Charlotte herself was unable to
home to the barn, at least he must take her children along.
Wilbur rushed to the front of his pen. He put his front feet up on the
board and gazed around. In the distance he saw the Arables and the
Zuckermans approaching. He knew he would have to act quickly.
“Where’s Templeton?” he demanded.
“He’s in that corner, under the straw, asleep,” said Charlotte.
Wilbur rushed over, pushed his strong snout under the rat, and tossed
into the air.
“Templeton!” Screamed Wilbur. “Pay attention!”
The rat, surprised out of a sound sleep, looked first dazed then
“What kind of monkeyshine is this?” he growled. “Can’t a rat catch a
sleep without being rudely popped in the air?”