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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/529

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For ten minutes, at least, the spider did not move a limb. The palpi forgot to wave, and he abandoned himself to the full and gross enjoyment of his meal. I forgot the fly's agonies. This poor starved creature, safe from the persecution of the house-maid, was reveling in the juices of a luscious fly. The gloom of his life was dissipated by a bright spot. Starvation even had a charm when followed by such a meal.

At last he fixed the fly against the paper with one foot, and loosened his grip, and, after giving a sigh of satisfaction, proceeded to decapitate his prey. He then held the carcass in such a manner that I thought he was going to blow into it, but he did not. The pangs of hunger were assuaged, and, with an Epicurean manner worthy of Brillat-Savarin, he sought for some dainty morsel in the chest.

Half an hour after, he still lovingly held his prize, although he ate no longer. The child-rhyme was floating in his memory:

"Oh, what fun!

Nice plum bun!
How I wish
It never was done!"

I went to bed, and on the morrow another corpse, that of Tim, lay on the floor of the bottle. His expression was placid as in life, and there was that beast of a fly, whom I described before, sucking at the old wound.

Days went on, and Esau's digestion seemed a laborious process. I watched with eagerness to see whether he would lay his hands on his companion by force or fraud. The spider lay immovable, the fly was idly busy in security.

Now, the utter disregard of decency paraded by that fly would have sent a cold shiver down the spine of any proper-minded person. He hustled the corpses of his brethren who were dead. He was constantly trying to extract from their bodies what juices the spider had left. He turned them on their stomachs. He turned them on their backs. He had no regard whatever for the deceased.

I sat in my arm-chair and pondered over the levity of that wretch till the dinner-bell rang, and I went sorrowfully to my evening meal. "How much superior am I to that fly! If a steak from one of my fellow-creatures were laid before me, I should reject it with abhorrence," thought I, "even if it were garnished with the savory onion or the mushroom—ay, even if it were relished with oyster-sauce and the tenderest asparagus. It is only the worst grades of life which can feed upon their kind."

We had chickens for dinner. The liver wing was excellent, and the en-dedans of the back afforded pleasant picking. I begged the maid to preserve the bones for a broken-legged dog whom I had adopted.