Goldenrod had learned to climb just as well as his siblings had learned to fly, though nobody had taught him; climbing was something that came as natural to him as walking and breathing. So he had no trouble climbing down from his treetop home to venture out into the rest of the forest. It was the rest of the forest that he was afraid of.
Goldenrod had never been on the forest floor before. But he heard the birds from the other trees, as well as his own siblings, talk about “spiders,” “foxes,” “rabbits,” “snakes,” and other terrible-sounding creatures that all dwelled on the forest floor. He imagined these creatures to be big, monstrous things that would attack him or trample him or snap him up in large, strong jaws. Maybe they only come out at night, he told himself. Most scary things only come out at night. It’ll be all right. I won’t run into any of them. With this thought firmly in mind, he continued on his way.
Despite the horrid-sounding creatures that supposedly dwelled there, Goldenrod found the forest floor to be a beautiful thing; there were golden spots where the sun broke through the treetops and made it all the way down. There were wildflowers colored pink and white and yellow and red. There were big, shady leaves to sit under and soft patches of moss and grass to lie down in.
But there weren’t any elves.
Goldenrod was not discouraged. Just because there weren’t any elves around didn’t mean there weren’t any elves at all. After all, he was an elf, and his mother must have found him somewhere. As he walked on, Goldenrod tried to picture what a pretty young elf girl must look like, but since he was the only elf he knew, he could only picture a direct copy of himself with a high voice like those of his sisters. That won’t do, he thought. I don’t want to court myself! I want her to look like somebody different! He gave up on picturing another elf in his head.
After he had walked for a long time, Goldenrod stopped to rest in one of the soft patches of grass. When he sat down, he heard a tiny rustling noise and caught a hint of movement out of the corner of his eye, and out of the grassy patch came the funniest looking creature he had ever seen. It had a round, black body that was low to the ground, and attached to that body were long, spindly legs that moved in a way that made Goldenrod laugh. He counted the legs and saw that there were eight of them, the same as the number of wide, glassy eyes on its face. Of course, this was one of the horrid-sounding creatures that Goldenrod dreaded, the “spider.” But it was so funny looking and gave Goldenrod such amusement to watch that he thought it must’ve been something else entirely.
The spider turned its head towards Goldenod—and to do this, it had to turn its whole body, which further amused him. “Young man,” the spider scolded him, “don’t you know how rude it is to laugh at others?”
Goldenrod stopped laughing. “I’m sorry,” he said, feeling ashamed for offending the creature. “It’s just that I’ve never seen anyone like you before, with your long legs and your eight big eyes and that round body. And I’ve never met anyone who’s had to turn her whole body just to turn her head!”
“Where are you from, that you’ve never seen a spider before?” the spider asked.
Goldenrod let out a gasp. “You’re a spider? But spiders are scary, and you’re not scary at all!”
“How could you come to the conclusion that spiders are scary if you’ve never seen one until now?”
“My brothers and sisters said they were horrible, scary things,” Goldenrod said. “But they were wrong! So perhaps they’re wrong about foxes, rabbits, and snakes too! Oh, I’m not afraid of the forest floor anymore! And it’s so beautiful here, too! But Miss Spider, do you know where I can find elves?”“An elf that doesn’t know where the elves are!” the spider exclaimed. “I find that much funnier than eight spindly legs and a round body! But look, I’m not laughing at you, because I don’t wish to be rude. I know exactly where you can find elves, and if you want to know, follow me.”