Miss Muffet and the Spider

Once upon a time, in England, there lived a lovely little girl named Miss Muffet. Her stepfather, Thomas Muffet, was a famous scientist who believed that most creatures in nature were gentle and harmless.

One evening, Miss Muffet was happily sitting on her tuffet, a small round stool that was fashionable at the time. She was eating her curds and whey while looking at a nice picture book of horses when a very big and hairy spider suddenly appeared! Poor Miss Muffet was so frightened that she jumped off her tuffet, spilling her snack all over the floor. The book also fell onto the floor, right where the spider had been.

Miss Muffet was certain that the book had smashed the poor creature into pieces. Even though the insect had scared her, she now felt pity for it. After all, it was such a tiny insect and the book was so big. She felt a little ashamed of herself that she had panicked too.

After gathering some courage, she lifted the book from the floor. She was ready to see some ugly mess, but there was no smashed spider there. Nor was there a healthy spider anywhere to be found. The spot was absolutely empty. She also knew that the spider had not run away because she had looked at the blue carpet around the tuffet very carefully and would have seen it. “Where did it go?” Miss Muffet wondered, but at first, she didn’t have any answer to this question. “It must have been a magic spider!” she finally concluded. “Normal spiders can’t turn themselves invisible when a book full of horses falls on them.”

She was about to give up the search when she suddenly noticed that the spider was caught by one of its legs between the pages of her book and was now resting on her lap. The spider had not turned invisible and was probably not a magic spider after all, but an ordinary house spider that catches flies. The spider had somehow managed to escape the destruction and been only trapped.

At first, Miss Muffet got a little nervous again. After all, the spider was now so close to her body. But then she realized that her light blue dress was made of thick woolen cloth and there was no danger. Besides, her father had always told her that those spiders who lived in England were totally safe. So Miss Muffet felt relieved when realizing how lucky the spider had been.

“Hello, little spider, what's your name?” Miss Muffet asked.

The spider replied, “I’m Mr. Spinner, and I already know you, Miss Muffet.”

Now, Miss Muffet really heard spider talk only in her imagination, because spiders are so small and they don’t have vocal cords so they can’t make any sounds that you could hear.

Miss Muffet smiled at Mr. Spinner and said, “Pleased to meet you, Mr. Spinner! Do you want to come and live with me?”

“I’m more of a pantry spider. Your father’s housekeeper employs me there to keep it nice and clean,” Mr. Spinner said.

“I thought she didn’t like spiderwebs,” Miss Muffet said.

“Only when they are in places where she can get caught in them. My webs are very strong, you know. Even for housekeepers,” Mr. Spinner bragged. “But I keep them behind the cupboard,”

Miss Muffet became impressed at his cleverness and said, "I would love to see your webs in the pantry."

“That would be easy,” Mr. Spinner said. "But before we go to the pantry, would you mind releasing me from this book? I promise I won't run away."

Miss Muffet carefully took Mr. Spinner out of the book and placed him on her finger. “There you go, Mr. Spinner,” she said.

“Thank you, Miss Muffet. I am happy to show you my webs,” Mr. Spinner said as he crawled up to her shoulder. Miss Muffet was no longer afraid of the spider at all.

So both of them walked down towards the pantry where behind a massive oak cupboard filled with all kinds of food, were the spider’s webs, about six or seven of them, all perfectly spun and organized, keeping the pantry clean and free of flies.

“Wow,” said Miss Muffet. “Your webs are really something. Have you woven all of them yourself?”

“My cousin also lives here. Half of these webs are his. He is not at home right now, though, because he went to visit his dear aunt who lives in the attic.”

Miss Muffet said, “I know how it is with aunts. We also visit ours when she is sick or has a birthday,” She didn’t want to speak about aunts anymore, because now the large cupboard doors had gained her attention. She knew that some of the things inside were very yummy. “Would you mind if I peek inside the cupboard?” she asked Mr. Spinner politely.

“Of course not. Feel free to peek to your heart’s delight. Just watch out for any mouse traps,” Mr. Spinner replied helpfully.

Miss Muffet in the PantryMiss Muffet opened one of the cupboard doors and the first thing she saw inside, was a large jar of strawberry jam. She almost heard it whispering her name. Despite knowing that she was not allowed to eat it, the temptation was too powerful. She knew she should not do it, but she could not resist.

“Can I try this wonderful strawberry jam, please?” she asked Mr. Spinner.

Mr. Spinner chuckled and said, “If you cannot help yourself, why not?” But only if you promise to only take just one spoonful, otherwise the jam will vanish quicker than I can spin a web.”

Miss Muffet quickly fetched a spoon from a nearby drawer and dipped it into the delicious jam. As she was about to take another spoonful, Mr. Spinner said, “Hang on, Miss Muffet! There are other interesting things inside this cupboard too! Feasting your eyes on these items is much better than just stuffing your belly. Curiosity is the key to knowledge.” 

Miss Muffet eagerly looked inside the cupboard and noticed several interesting things. There were little jars of spices with their names written in neat calligraphy labels, exotic fruits tinned in syrup, rich dark chocolate bars imported from France, and jars of golden honeycomb. “Oh wow!” exclaimed Miss Muffet. “What hidden treasures!”

Mr. Spinner nodded in agreement and said “Voilà! Now you know how fun it is to explore unique things from all corners of the world. Knowledge is more valuable than any amount of jam or chocolate must ever be!”

Miss Muffet had her chin pressed against the cupboard, eagerly trying to get a better look at the hidden treasures when suddenly, something fell out with a loud crash! Startled, Miss Muffet jumped back in surprise, dropping the spoon she had been holding. Just then, the housekeeper who had been alerted by the noise stormed into the pantry. “What on Earth is going on here?!” she exclaimed. Her eyes quickly fell upon Miss Muffet and the mess of spilled jam and chocolate around her feet.

Miss Muffet looked at the housekeeper in embarrassment. Then, just before the housekeeper could scold her, Mr. Spinner spoke up in her defense. “It was my fault ma’am! I was trying to teach Miss Muffet a lesson about being curious and exploring the world. She was so distracted by what she saw in the cupboard that she accidentally knocked one jar over.”

Unfortunately, the housekeeper didn’t hear what Mr. Spinner said, so Miss Muffet repeated his words. She also mentioned Mr. Spinner’s webs behind the cupboard.

The housekeeper didn’t look satisfied with the explanation. “You should go and explore outside my pantry,” she said angrily. “As for the spiderwebs, I’ll get rid of those, so there’s no need to come back here to look at them.”

“No, please don’t,” exclaimed Miss Muffet. “Mr. Spinner is my friend; he lives behind the cupboard and needs his webs.”

“Nonsense, off it goes. I just fetch my broom.”

Miss Muffet quickly rushed to her father and explained the situation to him. Her father listened patiently and when she was done, he smiled at her and said, “My dear Miss Muffet, it sounds like you have made a great friend in Mr. Spinner. I think what he does is important and that his webs should remain there. I will speak to the housekeeper.” 

The housekeeper had to obey Miss Muffet’s stepfather’s orders, so the spiderwebs stayed and so did Mr. Spinner and his cousin. Both were good friends to Miss Muffet for many years to come. Amused by this friendship, Thomas Muffet, Miss Muffet’s stepfather wrote the famous nursery rhyme that so many children like to recite:

Little Miss Muffet
She sat on a tuffet,
Eating of curds and whey;
There came a little spider,
Who sat down beside her,
And frightened Miss Muffet away.