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The Life of the Spider - J. Henri Fabre

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THE LIFE OF THE SPIDER

CHAPTER I:  THE BLACK-BELLIED TARANTULA



The Spider has a bad name:  to most of us, she represents an
odious, noxious animal, which every one hastens to crush under
foot.  Against this summary verdict the observer sets the beast's
industry, its talent as a weaver, its wiliness in the chase, its
tragic nuptials and other characteristics of great interest.  Yes,
the Spider is well worth studying, apart from any scientific
reasons; but she is said to be poisonous and that is her crime and
the primary cause of the repugnance wherewith she inspires us.
Poisonous, I agree, if by that we understand that the animal is
armed with two fangs which cause the immediate death of the little
victims which it catches; but there is a wide difference between
killing a Midge and harming a man.  However immediate in its
effects upon the insect entangled in the fatal web, the Spider's
poison is not serious for us and causes less inconvenience than a
Gnat-bite.  That, at least, is what we can safely say as regards
the great majority of the Spiders of our regions.

Nevertheless, a few are to be feared; and foremost among these is
the Malmignatte, the terror of the Corsican peasantry.  I have seen
her settle in the furrows, lay out her web and rush boldly at
insects larger than herself; I have admired her garb of black
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