Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 50.djvu/389

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373
SPIDERS AND THEIR WAYS.

some practical object to the trainers, and tell them simply we want birds that will come back in all weathers, in every season, and from all points in the horizon. Our demand would be promptly fulfilled. The bird is very prolific, and the task of the trainer is further facilitated by the fact that pigeon-matings are for life, unless the couples are forcibly separated; and it is therefore possible, without difficulty, to keep many varieties distinct in the same pigeon house.—Translated and abridged for the Popular Science Monthly from the Revue des Deux Mondes.

 

SPIDERS AND THEIR WAYS.
By MARGARET WENTWORTH LEIGHTON.
Spider,

At my window spinning,
Weaving circles wider, wider,
From the deft beginning;

Running
Rings and spokes, until you
Build your silken death-trap cunning—
Shall I catch you—kill you?

Sprawling,
Nimble, shrewd as Circe;
Death's your only aim and calling,
Why should you have mercy?

Strike thee?
Not for rapine willful:
Man himself is too much like thee.
Only not so skillful.

George Horton's Songs of the Lowly.

NOT so skillful, and doubtless never will be, for to-day a spider's thread is used in the telescope because man has been unable to manufacture one so fine and delicate.

Whenever I look at the marvelous web of the great black-and-gold garden spider I remember that pretty story of the way in which the group of spiders received its name of Arachnidœ. In the olden times there was a lovely maiden named Arachne, who could weave and embroider with such deftness that the nymphs all gathered to watch her. They whispered to each other that she must have been taught by Minerva herself, who was the goddess of Wisdom. Arachne overheard them, and, denying their accusation, challenged Minerva to a trial of skill. Minerva accepted the challenge, and when the webs were woven Arachne's was wonderfully beautiful, but Minerva's far surpassed it.