THE GRASSHOPPER SPIDER.

CHARLES CRISTADORO.

OUT in the garden where the western sun flooded the nasturtiums along the garden wall, a large yellow and black-bodied spider made his lair. The driving rain of the night before had so torn and disarranged his web that he had set about building himself a new one lower down. Already he had spun and placed the spokes or bars of his gigantic web and was now making the circles to complete his geometric diagram.

From his tail he exuded a white, sticky substance, which, when stretched, instantly became dry. As he stepped from one spoke to another he would spin out his web and, stretching the spoke towards the preceding one, bring the fresh-spun web in contact with it and then exude upon the jointure an atom of fresh web, which immediately cemented the two parts, when the spoke settled back into place, pulling the cross web straight and taut. The process of house-building continued uninterruptedly, every movement of the spider producing some result. No useless steps were taken, and as the work progressed the uniformity of the work was simply amazing; every square, every cross piece, was placed exactly in the same relative position as to distance, etc. A micrometer seemingly would not have shown the deviation of .000001 of an inch between any two of the squares.

When the web was three-fourths finished a lusty grasshopper went blundering up against one of the yet uncovered spokes of the web and escaped. The spider noticed this and visibly increased his efforts and sped from spoke to spoke, trailing his never ending film of silky web behind him. At last the trap was set and, hastening to the center, he quickly covered the point with web after web, until he had a smooth, solid floor with an opening that allowed the tenant to occupy either side of the house at will. The spot was well selected, the hoppers in the heat of the day finding the heavy shade of the broad nasturtium leaves particularly grateful.

     

Our friend the spider had not long to wait for his breakfast, for presto! — a great, brown-winged hopper flew right into the net. Before he could, with his strong wings and powerful legs, tear the silken gossamer asunder and free himself, like lightning our spider was upon him. In the flash of an eve the grasshopper was actually enshrouded in a sheet of white film of web, and with the utmost rapidity was rolled over and over by the spider, which used its long legs with the utmost dexterity. Wound in his graveyard suit of white silk, the grasshopper became absolutely helpless. His broad wings and sinewy legs were now useless. The spider retreated to the center of the web and watched the throes of his prey. By much effort the hopper loosed one leg and was bidding fair to kick the net to shreds when the spider made another sally and, putting a fresh coating of sticky web around him, rolled him over once or twice more and left him.

In a few moments, when all was over, the spider attacked his prey and began his breakfast. Before his meal was well under way, a second hopper flew into the parlor of the spider and, leaving his meal, the agile creature soon had hopper number two securely and safely ensnared. No experienced football tackle ever clowned his opponent with any such skill or celerity as the spider displayed as he rolled over and bundled up into a helpless web-covered roll the foolish and careless hopper.

"The spiders touch, how exquisitely
       fine !
Feels at each thread, and lives along
       the line."

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