The Strand From
Above, From the Danish of
The sun rose on a bright September morning. A thousand gems of dew
sparkled in the meadows, and upon the breeze floated, in the wake of
summer, the shining silken strands of which no man knoweth the whence
or the whither.
One of them caught in the top of a tree, and the skipper, a little
speckled yellow spider, quit his airship to survey the leafy demesne
there. It was not to his liking, and, with prompt decision, he spun a
new strand and let himself down straight into the hedge below.
There were twigs and shoots in plenty there to spin a web in, and he
went to work at once, letting the strand from above, by which he had
come, bear the upper corner of it.
A fine large web it was when finished, and with this about it that
set it off from all the other webs thereabouts, that it seemed to stand
straight up in the air, without anything to show what held it. It takes
pretty sharp eyes to make out a single strand of a spider-web, even a
very little way off.
The days went by. Flies grew scarcer, as the sun rose later, and the
spider had to make his net larger that it might reach farther and catch
more. And here the strand from above turned out a great help. With it
to brace the structure, the web was spun higher and wider, until it
covered the hedge all the way across. In the wet October mornings, when
it hung full of shimmering raindrops, it was like a veil stitched with
The spider was proud of his work. No longer the little thing that
had come drifting out of the vast with nothing but its unspun web in
its pocket, so to speak, he was now a big, portly, opulent spider, with
the largest web in the hedge.
One morning he awoke very much out of sorts. There had been a frost
in the night, and daylight brought no sun. The sky was overcast; not a
fly was out. All the long gray autumn day the spider sat hungry and
cross in his corner. Toward evening, to kill time, he started on a tour
of inspection, to see if anything needed bracing or mending. He pulled
at all the strands; they were firm enough. But though he found nothing
wrong, his temper did not improve; he waxed crosser than ever.
At the farthest end of the web he came at last to a strand that all
at once seemed strange to him. All the rest went this way or thatthe
spider knew every stick and knob they were made fast to, every one. But
this preposterous strand went nowherethat is to say, went straight up
in the air and was lost. He stood up on his hind legs and stared with
all his eyes, but he could not make it out. To look at, the strand went
right up into the clouds, which was nonsense.
The longer he sat and glared to no purpose, the angrier the spider
grew. He had quite forgotten how on a bright September morning he
himself had come down this same strand. And he had forgotten how, in
the building of the web and afterward when it had to be enlarged, it
was just this strand he had depended upon. He saw only that here was a
useless strand, a fool strand, that went nowhere in sense or reason,
only up in the air where solid spiders had no concern....
Away with it! and with one vicious snap of his angry jaws he bit
the strand in two.
That instant the web collapsed, the whole proud and prosperous
structure fell in a heap, and when the spider came to he lay sprawling
in the hedge with the web all about his head like a wet rag. In one
brief moment he had wrecked it allbecause he did not understand the
use of the strand from above.