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The Spider Weaver

Popular with: Oresund, Gaunt, Akathia
Unpopular with: Principalities, Tarsikka
Less known by: Athral Isle
Archtypes, if any: Any
Variations, if any:

LONG ago there was a young farmer named Josu. One day he was working in the fields and saw a snake getting ready to eat a spider. Josu felt very sorry for the spider. So he ran at the snake with his hoe and drove the snake away, thus saving the spider's life. Then the spider disappeared into the grass, but first it seemed to pause a minute and bow in thanks toward Josu.

One morning not long after that, Josu was in his house when he heard a tiny voice outside calling: "Mr. Josu, Mr. Josu." He went to the door and saw a beautiful young girl1 standing in the yard.

"I heard that you are looking for someone to weave cloth for you," said the girl. "Won't you please let me live here and weave for you?" Josu was very pleased because he did need a weaving girl. So he showed the girl the weaving room and she started to work at the loom. At the end of the day Josu went to see what she'd done and was very surprised to find that she'd woven eight long pieces of cloth, enough to make eight full robes. He'd never known anyone could weave so much in just a single day.

"However did you weave so much?" he asked the girl.

But instead of answering him, she said a very strange thing: "You mustn't ask me that. And you must never come into the weaving room while I am at work."

But Josu was very curious. So one day he slipped very quietly up to the weaving room and peeped in the window. What he saw really surprised him! Because it was not the girl who was seated at the loom, but a large spider, weaving very fast with its eight legs, and for thread it was using its own spider web, which came out of its mouth. Josu looked very closely and saw that it was the same spider which he'd saved from the snake. Then Josu understood. The spider had been so thankful that it had wanted to do something to help Josu. So it had turned itself into a beautiful young girl and come to weave cloth for him. Just by eating the cotton in the weaving room it could spin it into thread inside its own body, and then with its eight legs it could weave the thread into cloth very, very fast.

Josu was very grateful for the spider's help. He saw that the cotton was almost used up. So next morning he set out for the nearest village, on the other side of the mountains, to buy some more cotton. He bought a big bundle of cotton and started home, carrying it on his back.

Along the way a very terrible thing happened. Josu sat down to rest, and the same snake that he'd driven away from the spider came up and slipped inside the bundle of cotton. But Josu didn't know anything about this. So he carried the cotton home and gave it to the weaving girl. She was very glad to get the cotton, because she'd now used up all the cotton that was left. So she took it and went to the weaving room.

As soon as the girl was inside the weaving room she turned back into a spider and began eating the cotton very, very fast, just as though it were something very delicious, so she could spin it into thread inside her body. The spider ate and ate and ate, and then suddenly, when it had eaten down to the bottom of the bundle-the snake jumped out of the cotton. It opened its mouth wide to swallow the spider. The spider was very frightened and jumped out of the window. The snake went wriggling very fast after it. And the spider had eaten so much cotton that it couldn't run very fast. So the snake gradually caught up with the spider. Again the snake opened its mouth wide to gulp the spider down.

But just then a wonderful thing happened.

Old Man Sun, up in the sky, had been watching what was happening. He knew how kind the spider had been to Josu and he felt very sorry for the poor little spider. So he reached down with a sunbeam and caught hold of the end of the web that was sticking out of the spider's mouth, and he lifted the spider high up into the sky, where the snake couldn't reach it at all.

The spider was very grateful to Old Man Sun for saving him from the snake. So she used all the cotton that was inside her body to weave beautiful fleecy clouds up in the sky. And that is why the clouds are soft and white like cotton.