Otto the Spider

In the cellar of an old house, in a dark and quiet place there once lived a spider called Otto. He had spun his web in the darkest corner of the cellar. Even though he lived in a neglected and untidy place, Otto was a very tidy creature.

Every morning he would diligently tighten the threads of his web. He would straighten the unruly lock on the top of his head with a small comb. He kept his body perfectly black by taking baths in coal dust. Otto led an untroubled and uneventful life and enjoyed the peace and solitude.

On the rare occasion a gust of wind would blow through the bars of the small cellar window. It would come dancing through his web, making the threads vibrate. For a moment, the game would turn the web into a sensitive musical instrument. The web’s threads would resonate like silk cords. Games, dancing, and music served no purpose, as far as Otto was concerned. He did not like the wind and its strumming because they loosened the threads of his web.

Otto would then jump to and fro and threaten here, there and everywhere angrily with his little feet. He could hardly wait for the uninvited guest to leave to tighten the threads of his beautiful web to perfection again.

If there was anything in the world that made this grumpy creature happy, then it was flies and other small winged creatures that had lost their way. He stalked them patiently, hunted them deftly, and then wrapped them up in sticky threads.

Immediately after a tasty meal, Otto would hurry off to repair his web again. He would join the broken threads and check the tautness of his knots.

One rainy afternoon, haunted by a strange impulse, Otto set off to explore the cellar. He strolled across the hill of coal, crept into an old basket and discovered a little old wooden chest. The lid had been left ajar and seemed to be calling to the spider. As he crawled inside the chest, little did he know that the events that followed would change the habits of a lifetime.

Inside the chest Otto discovered wondrous things: needles of all sizes, spools of thread, crochet hooks, wooden knitting needles. A pair of old rusty scissors and some pin cushions lay on a pile of old lace.

Otto marveled at these mysterious bits and pieces. He felt strangely attracted to each and everyone of them. Suspicion and caution were forgotten. Curiosity got the better of him and he crawled into every nook and cranny of the chest to have a closer look at each and every object.

Suddenly he stepped into something horrible, something unbearably untidy, in fact, something disgusting and brightly colored.

“Aaarghhh!” screamed Otto in horror and fell straight into the middle of this disgusting something. Otto was trapped! He started shaking his little feet and some of the threads seemed to come alive, winding themselves around the spider’s body. Out of his mind with fear, he closed his eyes and imagined he was struggling with a terrible cellar monster. The more he struggled, the more he became entangled. The spider felt as helpless as a fly caught up in a web.

“Heeelp!” he gasped. His cry echoed through the rooms of the empty, abandoned cellar. Who could possibly help this lonely creature? Suddenly a strong gust of wind blew through the chest. The wind’s invisible, skillful fingers grabbed the monster and started shaking it and tearing its terrible feelers apart. Slowly the suffocation pressure around Otto’s neck disappeared and the threads flew in all directions. Only two threads remained and wrapped around Otto’s head and body. They now looked more like decoration than the scary feelers of a monster. Otto was saved! The wind laughed as it blew through the chest and flew away.

“Hey, friend!” shouted Otto to the wind. “Thank you, my friend!”

Once again Otto was all alone. He looked around in wonder and amazement. He was surrounded by threads of all colors and sizes: zigzag reds, wavy greens, dotted yellows, straight greys, twisting blues……What Otto had thought was a terrible monster, was only a tangled ball of old wool. The little creature suddenly felt mysteriously inspired. He started to gather the woolen threads and began weaving them with his deft little feet.

Soon a brand new and cheerful web made of leftover pieces of wool had turned the drab, grey cellar into a blaze of color.

Today Otto can often be found sitting on this new, brightly colored web where he entertains his guest.

The wind is happy. He likes to compose and play tunes on this new, multi-colored instrument. Each colored thread makes a different sound. Otto listens closely…….Sometimes he dances happily around to the sound and sometimes he just stands back and pretends to conduct.


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