Sadie held her flashlight in a tight fist as the cave’s inhabitant began to emerge. First a thin stick-like leg tapped forth. Then another. And another. In the red-tinged light she could see each jointed appendage was covered in prickly black hairs. The massive spider’s feet, two of which turned out to be hands covered in a pair of leather gloves, lifted forth a small satchel from which the creature pulled a foppish hat and placed on its head.
“My head gets cold in this night air,” it said, in the same gravelly voice the girl had recently come to know. “Could you turn your light? The red tint is nice, but it’s impolite to shine into another’s eyes.”
“Oh! Y…yes, sorry.” Sadie had no idea that her tunnel friend was a such a horror.
“You needn’t stare, girl. I know I look a fright.” The creature shifted the satchel to its back. “Shall we?”
“Shall we w…what?”
“Oh, come now. You invited me out for a midnight stroll. So, let us proceed. We’ve had such good conversations. Don’t ruin it now by forgetting your manners.” The great mechanical-looking thing led the way. “Now you can understand why I chose to remain in hiding while we spoke,” explained the giant arachnid. “Just focus on my voice. You’ll get over me soon enough.”
They plodded along the path through the growing moonlight.
Sadie followed cautiously for a while. “I guess I’ve never properly introduced myself. I’m Sathena Brimson.”
“I know who you are, dear. I’ve known since you arrived. I know about most of the goings on around here.”
Sadie focused on the ground before her. “I suppose I’ve been very rude to never ask your name,” she said with more confidence, now that the shock had worn off.
The spider stopped and Sathena nearly bumped into her legs. You’re a girl spider, aren’t you? Sadie realized.
“You may call me Ara. That name, you may figure, is short for Arachne, a famous figure you will someday read about.”
“Miss Ara?” asked the girl.
“Ha!” the spider laughed, her hat slipping back off her head to land in the crook between her thorax and satchel. “No, but you can call me Lady Ara.” She fetched it back to her head using her front leg’s gloved pincers.
Ara noticed the girl’s eyes following her hands. “It’s proper for a lady to glove her hands when out.” Ara plucked a daisy from near the path and handed it to the girl who received it without thinking. “I hear some call you Sadie. Is that the name you prefer?”