I was not about to switch off my light, knowing what was crawling around above my head.
It is not often that one gets to witness a life-and-death struggle in one's bedroom, but I could see that this confrontation could only end one way. It looked like a White-Tailed spider: one of those notoriously nasty spiders which can inflict horrible wounds -- and according to the authorities, wounds which refuse to heal. I had seen White-Tailed spiders in my bedroom before, and I wasn't happy about their presence there, so I'd pestered Dad until he'd sealed all the cracks and gaps in the walls and ceiling, and I'd though then that I'd see no more of the nasty little critters, but there, uninvited, was a White-Tailed spider, making his malevolent way along the cornice above my head.
I had been on the point of turning out the light when I spotted him, but I was not about to lie there in the dark, knowing that he was up there, crawling about, and I left the light on and continued to lie still, watching him. Under my breath I said a quick little prayer: Lord, please don't let him crawl down here and bit me.
He made his way to the corner and I watched him every inch of the way, hypnotized by his determined progress. At last he began to make his way along the adjacent cornice. Now he was in a spot to the left of my bed. At least now I could keep an eye on him without straining my neck. I don't know how long I was prepared to watch him while he made his horizontal journey, but if he turned and began to crawl down the wall, I would probably leap out of bed and drag Dad into my room to deal with him. However, he kept going right on, making a kind of zigzag progress towards the next corner.
It was then, after glancing at that corner, that I noticed another dark speck against the white ceiling. What could that be? As I watched, the speck began to vibrate. Aha! I thought. A Daddy-Long-Legs spider had set up housekeeping in that corner of the ceiling. I didn't hate Daddy-Long-Legs spiders, in fact, I thought of them as rather comical. I did get impatient with them though, because despite all my efforts to keep them away, they continued to appear with monotonous regularity. It mattered not that I swept them down and stepped on them, sucked them up into the vacuum cleaner, or sprayed their webs with insecticide, still they continued to appear.
Now, as I watched White-Tail was heading towards Daddy's corner, and I wondered what would happen. White-Tail seemed very determined, although his progress was slow and dogged, and as he neared the corner, Daddy set up such a vibrating in his web that I was sure that White-Tail would be frightened away. But rather than being frightened, he seemed all the more determined, and I saw him raise his two long front legs and wave them menacingly. Daddy made a couple of short runs along his web in the direction of White-Tail, who held his ground resolutely. So Daddy returned to the centre of his web, apparently to stand guard. This is interesting, I thought. Will they fight, and who will win?
If I'd had the chance to wager on the outcome, my money would have been on White-Tail -- mainly because of his reputation, I suppose, but I do remember reading somewhere that Daddy-Long-Legs spiders carry a very potent poison, and the only reason that we're not aware of it is because they are physically unable to bite humans. Well, it seemed that this piece of information, whether true or false, was about to be put to the test.
White-Tail continued to approach Daddy's corner. Daddy kept perfectly still. White-Tail began to encounter Daddy's web, and seemed a bit perturbed by it, making uncertain little runs first in one direction, then another. Daddy remained motionless. Suddenly White-Tail seemed to throw caution aside, and made a lunge towards Daddy, who in turn leapt upon White-Tail with a ferocity which surprised me. The two spiders were locked in mortal combat, and it was hard for me to judge which was winning. White-Tail certainly put up a good fight in this life and death struggle, but soon it became apparent that Daddy was the victor, as White-Tail was seen to be hanging helplessly, and turning in slow spirals at the end of a silken thread. Soon Daddy's activity told me that he was busily wrapping White-Tail up into a neat parcel. I turned out my light and rolled over. For once I was very thankful for the presence of a Daddy-Long-Legs in my room.
Next morning, I took a broom handle and robbed Daddy's larder. I took that little, neatly wrapped parcel, and delicately removed the web wrapping. The victim was indeed a White-Tailed spider, and Daddy-Long-Legs continues to live happily, and undisturbed in the corner of my ceiling.