...Charlotte's Web, Continued
“Listen to me!” cried Wilbur. “Charlotte is very ill. She only has a
to live. She cannot accompany us home, because of her condition.
it is absolutely necessary that I take her egg sac with me. I can’t reach
it, and I
can’t climb. You are the only one that can get it. There is not a second
lost. The people are coming—they’ll be here in no time. Please, please,
please, Templeton, climb up and get the egg sac.”
The rat yawned. He straightened his whiskers. Then he looked up at the
“So!” he said, in disgust. “So, it’s old Templeton to the rescue again,
Templeton do that, Templeton please run down to the dump and get me a
magazine clipping, Templeton please lend me a piece of string so I can
“Oh, hurry!” said Wilbur. “Hurry up, Templeton!”
But the rat was in no hurry. He began imitating Wilbur’s voice.
“So, it’s ‘Hurry up, Templeton,’ is it?” he said. “Ho, ho. And what
thanks do I
ever get for these services, I would like to know? Never a kind word for
Templeton, only abuse and wisecracks and snide remarks. Never a kind word
for a rat.”
“Templeton,” said Wilbur in desperation, “if you don’t stop talking and
busy, all will be lost, and I will die of a broken heart. Please climb
Templeton lay back in the straw. Lazily he placed his forepaws behind his
head and crossed his knees, in an attitude of complete relaxation.
“Die of a broken heart,” he mimicked. “How touching! My, my! I notice
it’s always me you come to when in trouble. But I’ve never heard of
heart breaking on my account. Oh, no. Who cares anything about old
“Get up!” screamed Wilbur. “Stop acting like a spoiled child!”
Templeton grinned and lay still. “Who made trip after trip to the
asked. “Why, it was old Templeton! Who saved Charlotte’s life by scaring
Arable boy away with a rotten goose egg? Bless my soul, I believe it was
Templeton. Who bit your tail and got you back on your feet this morning
you had fainted in front of the crowd? Old Templeton. Has it occured to
that I’m sick of running errands and doing favors? What do you think I am,
anyway, a rat-of-all-work?
Wilbur was desperate. The people were coming. And the rat was failing
him. Suddenly he remembered Templeton’s fondness for food.
“Templeton,” he said. “I will make you a solemn promise. Get
egg sac for me, and from now on I will let you eat first, when Lurvy slops
will let you have your choice of everything in the trough and I won’t
thing until you’re through.”
The rat sat up. “You mean that?” he said.
“I promise. I cross my heart.”
“All right, it’s a deal,” said the rat. He walked to the wall and
climb. His stomach was still swollen from last night’s gorge. Groaning and
complaining, he pulled himself slowly to the ceiling. He crept along till
reached the egg sac. Charlotte moved aside for him. She was dying, but she
still had strength enough to move a little. Then Templeton bared his long
teeth and began snipping the treads that fastened the sac to the ceiling.
watched from below.
“Use extreme care!” he said. “I don’t want a single one of those eggs
“Thith thtuff thicks in my mouth,” complained the rat. “It’th worth
But Templeton worked away at the job, and managed to cut the sac adrift
and carry it to the ground, where he dropped it in front of Wilbur. Wilbur
a great sigh of releif.
“Thank you, Templeton,” he said. “I will never forget this as long as I
“Neither will I,” said the rat, picking his teeth. “I feel as though
I’d eaten a
spool of thread. Will, home we go!”
Templeton crept into the crate and buried himself in the straw. He got
sight just in time. Lurvy and John Arable and Mr. Zuckerman came along at
that moment, followed by Mrs. Arable and Mrs. Zuckerman and Avery and
Fern. Wilbur had already decided how he would carry the egg sac—there was
only one way possible. He carefully took the little bundle in his mouth
it there on top of his tongue. He remembered what Charlotte had told
the sac was waterproof and strong. It felt funny on his tongue and made
drool a bit. And of course he couldn’t say anything. But as he was being
shoved into the crate, he looked up at Charlotte and gave her a wink. She
knew he was saying good-bye in the only way he could. And she knew her
children were safe.
“Good-bye!” she whispered. Then she summoned all her strength and
waved one of her front legs at him.
She never moved again. Next day, as the Ferris wheel was being taken
apart and the race horses were being loaded into vans and the entertainers
were packing up their belongings and driving away in their trailers,
died. The Fair Grounds were soon forlorn. The infield was littered with
and trash. Nobody, of the hundreds of people what had visited the Fair,
that a grey spider had played the most important part of all. No one was
her when she died.