By Noelene Sanderson (A work of fiction)
MELINDA had never seen such a BIG spider.
LO-o-o-ong and FAT. Fully two inches long with its legs spread out...practically covering the whole leaf...She clutched her rag doll a little tighter.
"It makes me feel all shivery inside - as if I'd like to run FAR away. Don't you feel as if YOU want to run away, Raggedy?
Raggedy didn't answer, but Melinda was sure she gave a shaky nod!
But, what if she did run away? The great spider would still stay right where it was, in their garden, soread across a leaf of the peach tree as if it would be there. . . FOREVER!
Melinda wanted to run in to her mother; but if she did, the spider might move - and then it would be worse, not knowing where it might turn up next!
So she stood...gazing...fascinated...frozen...
It was a lovely, fresh, sunny day in Autumn. A shaft of sunshine coming through behind the tree, showed up a beautiful red in the spider's legs. Melinda could almost see through them...and they were SO pretty - like beetroot juice - or the glass jug Mum used for fruit-juice.
Still, Melinda took good care not to move any closer..
The next thing she noticed were three white stripes, one on each side, and one in the middle of spider's fat back.
"They are even dotted", she thought to herself, "like the ones on a page where you tear off a part to send for something.."
How perfectly exact they were!
Still...it WAS rather C R E E P Y, all the same!
Melinda stood and looked, admiring all the details..
Then, as she relaxed a bit more, and her attention widened, she saw something else...just above and behind spider, was...something fine, and white, and very, VERY soft-looking...its NEST!
So-o...the spider must be guarding her NEST! THAT'S why she didn't move even a fraction - even 'tho' the branch waved in the breeze; even 'tho' spider seemed to sense Melinda there, and was probably afraid of her:- a Giant, Unknown Being.
Still spider stayed right where she was, one foot almost touching the nest.
Melinda decided Spider was a VERY FAITHFUL MOTHER.
Obviously she would die rather than leave the nest which would bring life to her babies.
And so Melinda tried to think very hard, what to do about this situation. She was beginning to feel a bit silly for having felt the spider was something to be AFRAID of!
Still...."Should I leave the brave mother, and take the nest and pour boiling water over it so all those spiders won't hatch out and become GREAT BIG SPIDERS, like their mother, all over the back garden?
She couldn't help feeling creepy again, at the thought of not knowing the whereabouts of so many BIG ones! But it seemed too cruel to leave the mother without her off-spring. "OR: Kill the Mother too? Oh NO! I COULDN'T squash it. Or watch it suffering! She IS perfect. She deserves to live.........even if I AM still a teeny bit afraid...", Melinda thought, shakily.
WHAT to DO?
Then at last she had a great idea.
There was a man in the district - a very fine, kind man - who had a great love for animals; an Honorary Ranger, who looked after creatures which had been victims of cruelty, or storms or other mishaps.
Melinda ran quickly inside to her mother, who agreed she should ring Mr. Bevan They knew HE would understand her predicament. "Please, God, I hope he can help" she prayed.
Mr. Bevan listened to the problem. . . .
He thought for a moment. . . .
Then, "Why don't you take the peach-branch, spider, nest and all, and place them against a hedge in the park? Or a quiet place away from the road? That way, EVERYONE will be happy!"
Of course! A great wave of thankfulness swept over Melinda. She thanked her kind friend warmly....."Thank you SO much, Mr Bevan. Now I KNOW what to do!"
And she raced off to find Dad's secateurs, clipped off the whole branch, carefully carried it along the road a bit, making soothing sounds to Mother Spider as she went, and placed it gently and firmly onto a strong part of the hedge in the park.
She checked on the Spider. Yes....it would be sheltered, safe and protected there.
As she bent towards it again, and saw that it was moving closer against its nest, Melinda felt she wanted to ask GOD for a "wall" of protection, of LOVE and WARMTH, to be placed around it - such a faithful, brave, patient mother.
"Dear Spider, now you can look after your nest to your heart's content, and enjoy watching your babies hatch out!" she told her.
Melinda walked home feeling that everything had turned out JUST RIGHT !