Intermission 1B (Telling Tales)
I Am the Solution to Your Problem
The princess stopped herself before her hand swatted at the spider dangling next to her. It hung on an invisible thread mere inches above her shoulder.
The spider was hairy.
The spider was black with yellow stripes.
The spider’s length, legs and all, was that of the palm of the princess’s hand.
A talking spider of this size was not to be trifled with.
“The castle,” answered the princess, uncomfortable yet unafraid. She had seen worse things in her dreams.
“Oh, you are the princess?” asked the spider. It spoke with a strange accent, for speaking in a human tongue was the spider’s second language, as you might have guessed.
“I am,” answered the princess.
“You found me!” exclaimed the spider with joy. “They wouldn’t let me in the castle, you know. I would have crawled inside anyway, but so many guards! I was afraid of getting squished.” The princess nodded, half understanding, and politely waited for the spider to continue explaining. “I am the solution to your problem.”
“Oh. You are?” asked the princess.
“I am indeed!” the spider squealed. “Bring me home with you, feed me well, and you will sleep easily with me by your side.”
The princess hesitated. “Are you poisonous?” she asked the spider.
“Very,” the spider said with unabashed pride. It noticed the uncomfortable look on the princess’s face. “But I won’t bite you. I promise.”
“Well…” said the princess. She rose from her spot between two roots, and watched the spider dangle in the gentle breeze. “I suppose you can follow me back, if you really want to, and I’ll make sure they let you in the castle.”
“Follow?” asked the spider, “oh no, no, no! I may have four times the number of legs as you but there is still no way I’d keep up. You must carry me,” the spider said as it climbed up its own thread until it hung eye-level with the princess.
“Where?” asked the princess. She had brought no basket or jar.
“On your shoulder, of course,” said the spider. The princess didn’t like this idea, but decided that offending the spider would be the wrong course, so she stepped beneath it and allowed it to land on her shoulder.
The princess and the spider chatted away together for the rest of the day and through the night, all the way back to the castle. The more she looked at its hairy legs, its too-many eyes, and its pointed abdomen, the more accustomed she became to its appearance and the friendlier they became. She even fended off a few birds on their walk, though she was confident the spider could have handled itself against a little robin quite easily.
Once they arrived at the castle gate, the spider climbed around the princess’s shoulder and hid beneath her tangled hair, which tickled the princess something awful. “You must not tell them about me,” said the spider, and the princess agreed. Quicker than you can blink, the guards brought the princess before her royal parents, ragged and sun-burnt from her journey, missing her sleeves, and giggling with the tickles on her neck.
“Where have you been?” her royal parents demanded.
“I have been looking for the solution to my problem,” she said.