A spider's web is stronger than it looks. Although it is made ofthin, delicate strands, the web is not easily broken. However, a webgets torn every day by the insects that kick around in it, and aspider must rebuild it when it gets full of holes. Charlotte likedto do her weaving during the late afternoon, and Fern liked to sitnearby and watch. One afternoon she heard a most interestingconversation and witnessed a strange event. “You have awfully hairy legs, Charlotte,” said Wilbur, as thespider busily worked at her task. “My legs are hairy for a good reason,” replied Charlotte. “Furthermore, each leg of mine has seven sections—the coxa, thetrochanter, the femur, the patella, the tibia, the metatarsus, andthe tarsus.” Wilbur sat bolt upright, “You’re kidding,” he said. “No, I’m not, either.” “Say those names again, I didn't catch them the first time.” “Coxa, trochanter, femur, patella, tibia, metatarsus, andtarsus.” “Goodness!” said Wilbur, looking down at his own chubby legs. “I don’t think my legs have seven sections.” “Well,” said Charlotte, “you and I lead different lives. You don't have to spin a web. That takes real leg work.” “I could spin a web if I tried,” said Wilbur, boasting. “I'vejust never tried.” “Let’s see you do it,” said Charlotte. Fern chuckled softly,and her eyes grew wide with love for the pig. “O.K.,” replied Wilbur. “You coach me and I'll spin one. Itmust be a lot of fun to spin a web. How do I start?” “Take a deep breath!” said Charlotte, smiling. Wilbur breatheddeeply. “Now climb to the highest place you can get to, like this.” Charlotte raced up to the top of the doorway. Wilbur scrambled tothe top of the manure pile. “Very good!” said Charlotte. “Now make an attachment withyour spinnerets, hurl yourself into space, and let out a dragline asyou go down!” Wilbur hesitated a moment, then jumped out into the air. Heglanced hastily behind to see if a piece of rope was following himto check his fall, but nothing seemed to be happening in his rear,and the next thing he knew he landed with a thump. “Ooomp!” hegrunted. Charlotte laughed so hard her web began to sway. “What did I do wrong?” asked the pig, when he recovered fromhis bump. “Nothing,” said Charlotte. “It was a nice try.” “I think I’ll try again,” said Wilbur, cheerfully. “Ibelieve what I need is a little piece of string to hold me.” The pig walked out to his yard. “You there, Templeton?” hecalled. The rat poked his head out from under the trough. “Got a little piece of string I could borrow?” asked Wilbur. “I need it to spin a web.” “Yes, indeed,” replied Templeton, who saved string. “Notrouble at all. Any thing to oblige.” He crept down into his hole,pushed the goose egg out of the way, and returned with an old pieceof dirty white string. Wilbur examined it. “That’s just the thing,” he said. “Tie one end to my tail,will you, Templeton?” Wilbur crouched low, with his thin, curly tail toward the rat. Templeton seized the string, passed it around the end of the pig'stail, and tied two half hitches. Charlotte watched in delight. LikeFern, she was truly fond of Wilbur, whose smelly pen and stale foodattracted the flies that she needed, and she was proud to see thathe was not a quitter and was willing to try again to spin a web. While the rat and the spider and the little girl watched, Wilburclimbed again to the top of the manure pile, full of energy and hope. “Everybody watch!” he cried. And summoning all his strength,he threw himself into the air, headfirst. The string trailed behindhim. But as he had neglected to fasten the other end to anything, itdidn't really do any good, and Wilbur landed with a thud, crushedand hurt. Tears came to his eyes. Templeton grinned. Charlotte justsat quietly. After a bit she spoke. “You can’t spin a web, Wilbur, and I advise you to put theidea out of your mind. You lack two things needed for spinning aweb.” “What are they?” asked Wilbur, sadly. “You lack a set of spinnerets, and you lack know-how. But cheerup, you don't need a web. Zucherman supplies you with three bigmeals a day. Why should you worry about trapping food?” Wilbur sighed. “You're ever so much cleverer and brighter thanI am, Charlotte. I guess I was just trying to show off. Serves meright.” Templeton untied his string and took it back to his home. Charlotte returned to her weaving. “You needn't feel too badly, Wilbur,” she said. “Not manycreatures can spin webs. Even men aren't as good at it as spiders,although they think they're pretty good, and they'll try anything.Did you ever hear of the Queensborough Bridge?” Wilbur shook his head. “Is it a web?” “Sort of,” replied Charlotte. “But do you know how long ittook men to build it? Eight whole years. My goodness, I would havestarved to death waiting that long. I can make a web in a singleevening.” “What do people catch in the Queensborough Bridge—bug?” askedWilbur. “No,” said Charlotte. “They don’t catch anything. They justkeep trotting back and forth across the bridge thinking there issomething better on the other side. If they’d hang head-down at thetop of the thing and wait quietly, maybe something good would comealong. But no—with men it’s rush, rush, rush, every minute. I’mglad I’m a sedentary spider.” “What does sedentary mean?” asked Wilbur. “Means I sit still a good part of the time and don’t gowandering all over creation. I know a good thing when I see it, andmy web is a good thing. I stay put and wait for what comes. Gives mea chance to think.” “Well, I’m sort of sedentary myself, I guess,” said the pig. “I have to hang around here whether I want to or not. You knowwhere I'd really like to be this evening?” “Where?” “In a forest looking for beechnuts and truffles and delectableroots, pushing leaves aside with my wonderful strong nose, searchingand sniffing along the ground, smelling, smelling, smelling…” “You smell just the way you are,” remarked a lamb who had justwalked in. I can smell you from here. You're the smelliest creaturein the place.” Wilbur hung his head. His eyes grew wet with tears. Charlottenoticed his embarrassment and she spoke sharply to the lamb. “Leave Wilbur alone!” she said. “he has a perfect right tosmell, considering his surroundings. You're no bundle of sweet peasyourself. Furthermore, you are interrupting a very pleasantconversation. What were we talking about, Wilbur, when we were sorudely interrupted?” “Oh, I don't remember,” said Wilbur. “It doesn't make anydifference. Let's not talk any more for a while, Charlotte. I'mgetting sleepy. You go ahead and finish fixing your web and I'lljust lie here and watch you. It's a lovely evening.” Wilburstretched out on his side. Twilight settled over Zuckerman's barn, and a feeling of peace. Fern knew it was almost suppertime but she couldn't bear to leave. Swallows passed on silent wings, in and out of the doorways,bringing food to their young ones. From across the road a bird sang“Whippoorwill, whippoorwill!” Lurvy sat down under an apple treeand lit his pipe; the animals sniffed the familiar smell of strongtobacco. Wilbur heard the trill of the tree toad and the occasionalslamming of the kitchen door. All these sounds made him feelcomfortable and happy, for he loved life and loved to be a part ofthe world on a summer evening. But as he lay there he rememberedwhat the old sheep had told him. The thought of death came to himand he began to tremble with fear. “Charlotte?” he said, softly. “Yes, Wilbur?” “I don’t want to die.” “Of course you don’t,” said Charlotte in a comforting voice. “I just love it here in the barn,” said Wilbur. “I loveeverything about this place.” “Of course you do,” said Charlotte. “We all do.” The goose appeared, followed by her seven goslings. They thrusttheir little necks out and kept up a musical whistling, like a tinytroupe of pipers. Wilbur listened to the sound with love in hisheart. “Charlotte?” he said. “Yes?” said the spider. “Were you serious when you promised you would keep them fromkilling me?” “I was never more serious in my life. I am not going to let youdie, Wilbur.” “How are you going to save me?” asked Wilbur, whose curiositywas very strong on this point. “Well,” said Charlotte, vaguely, “I don't really know. ButI'm working on a plan.” “ That's wonderful,” said Wilbur. “How is the plan coming,Charlotte? Have you got very far with it? Is it coming along prettywell?” Wilbur was trembling again, but Charlotte was cool andcollected. “Oh, it's coming all right,” she said, lightly. “The plan isstill in its early stages had hasn't completely shaped up yet, butI'm working on it. “When do you work on it?” begged Wilbur. “When I'm hanging head-down at the top of my web. That’s whenI do my thinking, because then all the blood is in my head.” “I'd be only too glad to help in any way I can.” “Oh, I'll work it out alone,” said Charlotte. “I can thinkbetter if I think alone.” “All right,” said Wilbur. “But don't fail to let me know ifthere's anything I can do to help, no matter how slight. “Well,” replied Charlotte, “you must try to build yourselfup. I want you to get plenty of sleep, and stop worrying. Neverhurry and never worry! Chew your food thoroughly and eat every bitof it, except you must leave just enough for Templeton. Gain weightand stay well — that’s the way you can help. Keep fit, and don’tlose your nerve. Do you think you understand? "Yes, I understand,” said Wilbur. “Go along to bed, then,” said Charlotte. “Sleep isimportant.” Wilbur trotted over to the darkest corner of his pen and threwhimself down. He closed his eyes. In another minute he spoke. “Charlotte?” he said. “Yes, Wilbur?” “May I go out to my trough and see if I left any of my supper? I think I left just a tiny bit of mashed potato.” “Very well,” said Charlotte. “But I want you in bed againwithout delay.” Wilbur started to race out to his yard. “Slowly, slowly!” said Charlotte. “Never hurry and neverworry!” Wilbur checked himself and crept slowly to his trough. He founda bit of potato, chewed it carefully, swallowed it, and walked backto bed. He closed his eyes and was silent for a while. “Charlotte?” he said, in a whisper. “Yes?” “May I get a drink of milk?” I think there are a few drops ofmilk left in my trough.” “No, the trough is dry, and I want you to go to sleep. No moretalking! Close your eyes and go to sleep!” Wilbur shut his eyes. Fern got up from her stool and started forhome, her mind full of everything she had seen and heard. “Good night, Charlotte!” said Wilbur. “Good night, Wilbur!” There was a pause. “Good night, Charlotte!” “Good night, Wilbur!” “Good night!” “Good night!”