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Chapter 15 The Crickets

The crickets sang in the grasses. They sang the song of summer's ending, a sad, monotonous song. "Summer is over and gone," they sang. "Over and gone, over and gone. Summer is dying, dying."The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last forever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year--the days when summer is changing into fall--the crickets spread the rumor of sadness and change.

  Everybody heard the song of the crickets. Avery and Fern Arable heard it as they walked the dusty road. They knew that school would soon begin again. The young geese heard it and knew that they would never be little goslings again. Charlotte heard it and knew that she hadn't much time left. Mrs. Zuckerman, at work in the kitchen, heard the crickets, and a sadness came over her, too. "Another summer gone," she sighed. Lurvy, at work building a crate for Wilbur, heard the song and knew it was time to dig potatoes.

  "Summer is over and gone," repeated the crickets. "How many nights till frost?" sang the crickets. "good-bye, summer, good-bye, good-bye."The sheep heard the crickets, and they felt so uneasy they broke a hole in the pasture fence and wandered up into the field across the road. The gander discovered the hole and led his family through, and they walked to the orchard and ate the apples that were lying on the ground. A little maple tree in the swamp heard the cricket song and turned bright red with anxiety.

  Wilbur was now the center of attraction on the farm. good food and regular hours were showing results: Wilbur was a pig any man would be proud of . One day more than a hundred people came to stand at his yard and admire him. Charlotte had written the word RADIANT, and Wilbur really looked radiant as he stood in the golden sunlight. Ever since the spider had befriended him, he had done his best to live up to his reputation. When Charlotte's web said SOME PIG, Wilbur had tried hard to look like some pig. When Charlotte's web said TERRIFIC, Wilbur had tried to look terrific. And now that the web said RADIANT, he did everything possible to make himself glow.

  It is not easy to look radiant, but Wilbur threw himself into it with a will. He would turn his head slightly and blink his long eyelashes. Then he would breathe deeply. And when his audience grew bored, he would spring into the air and do a back flip with a half twist. At this the crowd would yell and cheer. "How's that for a pig?" Mr. Zuckerman would ask, well pleased with himself. "That pig is radiant."Some of Wilbur's friends in the barn worried for fear all this attention would go to his head and make him stuck up. But it never did. Wilbur was modest; fame did not spoil him. He still worried some about the future, as he could hardly believe that a mere spider would be able to save his life. Sometimes at night he would have a bad dream. He would dream that men were coming to get him with knives and guns. But that was only a dream. In the daytime, Wilbur usually felt happy and confident. No pig ever had truer friends and he realized that friendship is one of the most satisfying things in the world. Even the song of the crickets did not make Wilbur too sad. He knew it was almost time for the County Fair, and he was looking forward to the trip. If he distinguish himself at the Fair, and maybe win some prize money, he was sure Zuckerman would let him live.

  Charlotte had worries of her own, but she kept quiet about them. One morning Wilbur asked her about the Fair.

  "You're going with me, aren't you, charlotte?" he said.

  "Well, I don't know," replied Charlotte. "The Fair comes at a bad time for me. I shall find it inconvenient to leave home, even for a few days.""Why?" asked Wilbur.

  "Oh, I just don't feel like leaving my web. Too much going on around here.""Please come with me!" begged Wilbur. "I need you, Charlotte. I can't stand going to the Fair without you. You've just got to come.""No," said charlotte, "I believe I'd better stay home and see if I can't get some work done.""What kind of work?" asked Wilbur.

  "Egg laying. It's time I made an egg sac and filled it with eggs.""I didn't know you could lay eggs," said Wilbur in amazement.

  "Oh, sure," said the spider. "I'm versatile.""What does 'versatile' mean--full of eggs?" asked Wilbur.

  "Certainly not," said Charlotte. "'Versatile' means I can turn with ease from one thing to another. I can turn with ease from one thing to another. It means I don't have to limit my activities to spinning and trapping and stunts like that.""Why don't you come with me to the Fair Grounds and lay your eggs there?" pleaded Wilbur. "It would be wonderful fun."Charlotte gave her web a twitch and moodily watched it sway. "I'm afraid not," she said. "You don't know the first thing about egg laying, Wilbur. I can't arrange my family duties to suit the management of the County Fair. When I get ready to lay eggs, I have to lay eggs, Fair or no Fair. However, I don't want you to worry about it--you might lose weight. We'll leave it this way: I'll come to the Fair if I possibly can.""Oh, good!" said Wilbur. "I knew you wouldn't forsake me just when I need you most."All that day Wilbur stayed inside, taking life easy in the straw. Charlotte rested and ate a grasshopper. She knew that she couldn't help Wilbur much longer. In a few days she would have to drop everything and build the beautiful little sac that would hold her eggs.




























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