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THE SPIDER

    Once a spider set to work on its last web of the year.
    A sudden crispness in the air had alerted it to how little time remained for this most important task. Through the long months of summer, the spider had spun web after web without considering them as much more than a device for meeting its basic needs. But this last one must be different.
    This last one must be a fitting farewell to web-making itself.
    There was no need to snare a final meal now. The spider had taken its fill of all that chance had brought it day in and day out. It had meas¬ured the distance between the branches of mighty trees and down nar¬row cracks in the earth. It had ridden a single thread across the wind and cast its broad net in the dew and the noon heat and the still of twi¬light.
    But now something else was required.
    Before the spider fell afoul of some other predator or simply grew too weak and stiff to balance itself any longer in midair, it must draw upon whatever strength and agility remained at its command to fashion this final testament to the art of being a spider. If it was to be taken seriously in any lasting appraisal of life’s wonders, now was the time to make that bid.
    Yet how should it begin, when so much must go into the attempt? This web couldn’t be a halfhearted affair. Every web the spider had ever spun, or even attempted to spin, must be remembered in this one. In the first dawn after its completion, every inch must catch the sunlight in glittering tribute to what had been and what could have been alike. In this record of one spider’s end must be a hint of all the webs stretched by all the spiders in all the mornings of the world.
    It must be a web that would make anyone reaching for a stick to sweep it aside pause in awe that a thing so glorious could be fash¬ioned and feel haunted by regret once its magic was destroyed. And those caught between the spider’s death and that regret must sense nothing could rival a final moment—since final moments come to all—so filled with the enchantment of creation.
    Enchantment. To spread these last jeweled rays in a perfect instinct for beauty, what could be more inspiring, more beautiful in itself? 
    To weave together, if only for a day, the bright strands of the universe.