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Building A Web

In THE DEADLIEST HATE, Miriam is suspicious of a man she encounters in Caesarea. She sees he’s come up in the world since he used to visit her father’s secretary, Kastor, in Alexandria:

“Well, something about him has always reminded me of a spider building a web , one deathly strand at a time. Maybe it’s because when he and Kastor would get together, they’d whisper in Latin behind cupped hands—about what I don’t know—but then he’d clap Kastor’s shoulder, rub his palms together, and strut off flicking his poisonous tongue across his lower lip.”

Perhaps Miriam was being unfair to spiders when she compared them to this nasty opportunist. Most spiders secrete at least three different kinds of silk to produce a) a safety line when spinning their web, b) a sticky silk for trapping their prey, and c) a fine silk for wrapping it. And so, spiders can catch their prey without having to chase it down. The energy saved by this efficient trap, however, is offset by the cost of producing the silk, which requires a great deal of protein. Some of the protein, however, is recaptured when the spider eats and digests the silk.

So be careful when you malign spiders. They are living as they should. More important, be careful when you encounter a scoundrel in Caesarea. To be safe, carry a copy of THE DEADLIEST HATE. The story will entertain you while you travel and scare away most scoundrels besides. Just click here.


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