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The Written by Hilda Sheehan Artwork by Jill Carter cunning spider cunning spider Published by Blue Gate Books The

The Cunning Spider

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a graphic children's story based on the fable by Richard Jefferies ' Wood Magic'

Text of The Cunning Spider

  • The

    Written by Hilda SheehanArtwork by Jill Carter

    cunning spidercunning spider

    Published by Blue Gate Books


  • HS For Michael, Aidan & Finley

    JC For Freddie, Finley & Thomas

    Grateful acknowledgement to

    Toby Carter, Susan Clarke, Tony Hillier,

    Matt Holland, Nathan James, John

    Richardson, Jean & Tom Saunders,

    Finley & Mike Sheehan

    First published in 2007 by Blue Gate Books

    26 Mannington Lane, Swindon, SN5 7AT


    Text copyright 2007 by Hilda Sheehan

    Artwork copyright 2007 by Jill Carter

    All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction

    in whole or in part in any form

    Book design by Susan Clarke

    Manufactured in Swindon by Warpton Creative,

    Citrus Creative and Swin City Comics

    The Richard Jefferies Society

    Honorable Secretary, Jean Saunders

    Pear Tree Cottage, Longcot, Faringdon, SN7 7SS

  • 1An old toad looked out from his damp holeunder a rotten seed box sheltered by arhubarb bush. He was always watching;blinking and winking and thinking.

    Blinking andwinking and

    thinking I am.


    The toad noticed that a spider had spun a remarkableweb upon the iron railings at the back of the garden.The spider was catching a great number of flies.

    I am the cleverest and most

    cunning spider in thiswhole garden

    Cunning & clever and ever so crafty,

    I am, yes I am!

  • 3The toad could not stopthinking of all the fliestangled in that incredibleweb. Flies that should beon the end of his long,sticky tongue.

    I dont like this spider with her cleverspinning and crafty


  • 4The toad climbedout of his houseand into thesunshine

    He liked the sun even lessthan he liked the spider.

    Angry jealous and very, very hungry.

    Ill visit that spider andher web of flies.

    Oh rhubarb! I have to go out in

    the sun.

    Day after day he sat watching the spider;blinking and winking and thinking.

  • 5The toad waddled alongthe grass to the spidersweb, popping and croakingall out of puff. It seemed a very long way in the heat.

    He stopped beneath thespiders amazing web andlooked up at the deliciousand entangled flies.

    His mouth began to waterand he felt so hot and dryin the sun that he becameeven more angry andjealous of the cunningspider.

  • 6The spider saw the toad beneath her greatweb and began to tauntand tease him with crueland cunning words.

    Well, look who has come out of his damp hole its old warty back! From up

    here you look wartier and uglier than ever!

    Im saying nothing just

    going to blink andwink and think.

  • 7Have you come to admire me toad? Oh how

    smart you must think I am tohave all these flies. Even waspsand bees are tied up so tightly

    they cannot sting or wriggletheir little bodies. Cunning and

    clever and ever so crafty I am, yes I am!

    Oh indeed you are. I have been admiring you allsummer long and have comefar across the grass in the

    hot sun to tell yousomething.

    Tell me something! How dare you! I know everything!

    Go back to your damp and gloomyhole, for you are spoiling

    my view!

  • 8Oh I am sorry madam, you are so right. It is true that you know

    everything about the sun and the moon, the earthand all its creatures, but you would hardly take

    notice of the small world of a poor old toad.

    Of course fine lady; Ill not bother you again.

    I should have known you kneweverything about everything.

    I will return to the cool of my rhubarb.

    Well, as I said, I know everything about


    Toad turned to make his journey back home,blinking and winking andthinking as he went

  • As you have come all this way and

    carelessly almost dried up in the heat of the sun, I will allow you to tell me. But be quick! I have

    webs to weave and flies to catch.


    So why havent you eaten them up yourself

    silly old toad?

    Well, while sitting in my hole under the rhubarb, I

    have noticed such a lot of flies going into the summerhouse and

    onto the little round window. It is quite black

    with flies.


  • 10

    Because I cant climb up there, dear lady. If only I was clever like you, with

    eight strong legs and a fabulous web.

  • 11

    The toad bowed to the spider andturned again to go back home.

  • 12

    Blinking heck. What is that spider

    up to?

    The toad settled in his holeunder the rhubarb, watchingand waiting; blinking andwinking and thinking aboutwhat the spider might do.

  • 13

    Darkness came, bringing the moon andthe stars to shine and sparkle uponthe great web. The spider thoughtabout all the marvellous thingsshe knew about her world.

    As she driftedoff to sleep, shebegan to dreamof all those fliesfrom thesummer housegetting caughtin her web,twiddling andwriggling, juicyand sweet.

  • 14

    When daylight came, the spiderleft her web to creep to thesummerhouse. She looked up atthe round window. Just as thetoad had told her, it was blackwith busy, juicy flies

    I hope that old toad doesnt

    see me!

    but the spider was tooproud to go inside

  • 15

    Cunning and cleverand ever so crafty

    I am yes I am.

    Mine, all mine! No one else will get a single one,

    especially that silly old andugly toad. Yum, yum. I will

    eat every single one!

    The spider began to eat allthe flies quickly and greedily;fly after fly after fly.

    The spider hurriedinside thesummerhouse andbegan to spin a web.When finished, it wasthe biggest and mostamazing web she hadever spun. And ittrapped more flies than she had seen inher whole life.

    until a splendid bluebottle landed on the summerhousewindow and made such atremendous buzzing that she could not help herself.

  • 16

    After a while, the spider wasso full and bulging with fliesthat she could no longer callout words of being cunningand clever. The spider wassick, bloated and could noteven move.



    A robin came to the iron railings and perched on thetop. He looked into the summerhouse window andcould see a big juicy spider with a belly full of flies.

    The robin flew inside the summerhouse and snappedthe spider into his beak!


  • 18

    The old toad watchedfrom his hole; blinking andwinking and thinking

    So many times had toad seen spiders climb up tothat round summerhouse window never to return

    I knew that spider would come

    to a sticky end.

  • 19THE END

    Cunning and cleverand ever so crafty,

    I am, yes I am!

  • It was a very pleasant garden: all grass anddaisies, and apple trees, and narrow patcheswith flowers and fruit trees one side, a low boxhedge and a ha-ha, where you can see the highmoving grass quite underneath you; and a roundsummer-house in the corner, painted as blueinside as a hedge-sparrows egg is outside.

    Richard Jefferies, 1881, Wood Magic





  • The Victorian writer Richard Jefferieswas born at Coate Farm, Swindon. Heis best known for his many writingson nature, rural life and agriculture.Growing up on a small dairy farm,Richard inherited his fathers

    passionate love of nature and spent histime roaming and playing in the local

    fields, woods and hills. The childrensclassics, Bevis and Wood Magic drew upon

    Jefferies own adventures and imagination as a boy growing upin the North Wiltshire countryside. The Cunning Spider was basedupon a tale told by the toad to young Bevis in Wood Magicpublished in 1881. In the fable, young Bevis talks to nature and allthe creatures of the fields and woods have their stories to tell.

    Richard Jefferies wrote in The Story of my Heart, How pleasantit would be each day to think, today I have done something thatwill render future generations more happy. The very thought wouldmake this hour sweeter.

    Hilda Sheehan, writer, and Jill Carter, artist, were commissionedby the Richard Jefferies Society to create a fresh adaptation ofan extract from Wood Magic. This comic storybook bringsJefferies works alive through playful words and imaginativeartwork, inspiring young readers to enter the real and imaginedenvirons of Coate.

    For opening times and further details please call or visit

    The Richard Jefferies House and MuseumMarlborough RoadCoateSwindonSN3 6AAtelephone 01793 466561 or 01793 783040

    Richard Jefferies 184887