The fairy fluttered for a moment before giving up in disgust.
“That you, Tangles?”
“Yeah. It’s me again,” answered the fairy. “Sorry.”
“No problem. Stay still, I’ll be right there.” The spider started picking his way to her.
“You won’t tell anyone, will you?”
“Not if you don’t want me to,” said the spider. He freed her wing from his sticky web with care.
She hung her head. “It’s so embarrassing.”
“Well, I don’t know about that. I’ve caught you three times this week, that’s less than last week by half! You’re doing well!”
Tangles sighed. “Thanks, Mr. Rupert, but we’re only half way through the week.”
Mr Rupert the spider looked around to see if anyone else was listening. “Between you and me, there isn’t a fairy alive that hasn’t been caught in a web at least once. We even get special training so we don’t eat you by mistake.”
Gazing into the spider-made labyrinth, her mind grew dizzy and lost its way. She wandered ’round and ’round the web, unable to break free. A dying fly told her to run, but she found she couldn’t. When she passed a dewdrop, she stopped to scry inside, hoping for escape, but all she saw was spider. A stuck mosquito urged her to leave, but she couldn’t find the way.
A dragonfly flew past, his wing getting stuck, and she ran to him. He struggled in fury, and yanked himself free. “Wait!” she cried, as he flew away. “Take me with you!” He turned and gave her the strangest look, but he didn’t take her with him.
She sighed and set about mending the web, silk streaming from her body. She wondered if she’d always been a spider, after all. Foggy dreams of friends and books and human life were fading fast. There was little she could do but go back to the dying fly and finish off her meal.
The Captain kicked at the ground and grumbled to himself. His crew made him furious. They were lazy and clumsy and ruined his best sails. He came across a spider and watched it for a while. His anger ebbed as he marveled how the spider rushed onto a web with ease to catch its prey, despite it flapping in the wind. An idea occurred to the Captain.
The next day the harbour hummed with strange tales of a mad sea captain who replaced his entire crew, save the cook and the cabin boy, with a clutter of spiders. No one knew what to think as they watched the ship sail out to sea with flawless symmetry, each sail just so and the rigging just right.
It had taken all night, but the sail was mended. The fairies blessed it with dew and the hobgoblins gave it a stubborn streak so deep even the gentlest of breezes would whip it into a frenzy and send the ship speeding through the water. The sailors thanked them for their gifts and left to seek their next adventure on the terrible midnight seas.
The cobweb sagged, overladen with baubles. Wearing so many strings of pearls before breakfast made her feel self-conscious. She much preferred a soft-spoken leaf or even a struggling mosquito for adornment.