The Last Day
by E.B. White
This excerpt is from the classic children's book Charlotte's Web. A story about friendship on earth, affection, protection, adventure and miracle, life and death...and the passage of time.
Charlotte and Wilbur were alone.
"Charlotte," said Wilbur, after a while, "why are you so quiet?"
"I like to sit still," she said. "I've always been rather quiet."
"Yes, but you seem specially so today. Do you feel all right?"
"A little tired, perhaps. But I feel peaceful. Your success in the ring this morning was to a small degree, my success. Your future is assured. You will live, secure and safe, Wilbur. Nothing can harm you now.
"These autumn days will shorten and grow cold. The leaves will shake loose from the trees and fall. Christmas will come, then the snows of winter. You will live to enjoy the beauty of the frozen world. Winter will pass, the days will lengthen, the ice will melt in the pasture pond. The song sparrow will return and sing, the frogs will awake, the warm wind will blow again. All these sights and sounds and smells will be yours to enjoy, Wilbur--this lovely world, these precious days..."
Charolotte stopped. A moment later a tear came to Wilbur's eye. "Oh, Charlotte," he said. "To think that when I first met you I thought you were cruel and bloodthirsty!"
When he recovered from his emotions, he spoke again.
"Why did you do all this for me?" he asked. "I don't deserve it. I've never done anything for you."
"You have been my friend," replied Charlotte. "That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what's a life, anyway? We're born, we live a little while, we die. A spider's life can't help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone's life can stand a little of that."
"Well," said Wilbur. "I'm no good at making speeches. I haven't got your gift for words. But you have saved me, Charlotte, and I would gladly give my life for you--I really would."
"I'm sure you would. And I thank
you for your generous sentiments."
Web by E.B. White. Paperback. Published by Harper C. Childrens,