Goldenrod followed the spider, who he found to be very good company. He now assumed that all spiders were as friendly and well-spoken as this one, and so he no longer had anything to fear from spiders. As they walked, Goldenrod talked with the spider about everything he could think to talk about: he told her about his family, and about how dearly he loved his mother and siblings. He told her about the tall tree they lived in, and the other finches that he had made friends with. He told her about his siblings’ flying lessons, and the impressive tricks they were now learning. The spider enjoyed his chatter, and when he had finally worn himself out from talking she told him that he was a very charming little elf and that she had thoroughly enjoyed his company. Goldenrod was very pleased to receive a compliment from his new friend.
“Have you ever seen any elves?” Goldenrod asked the spider. “What do they look like? Are they a lot like me?”
“Yes,” the spider replied. “I’ve seen very many elves, and my favorites are always the little children, who come to me without fear. Elves have long, golden hair the color of a sunbeam, and their faces are as sweet as roses and their voices as musical as bells. So yes, other elves are very much like you.”
Goldenrod’s pleasure in hearing the spider’s compliments was interrupted when he caught something out of the corner of his eye: a small, faded milk-white thing lying on top of a patch of bright green moss. Goldenrod had never seen such a thing before—a five-pointed thing with patches of brown at the tips of the points, looking dirty and out of place against the beautiful white of the rest of the object. The object was shriveled and curling in places, and to Goldenrod it looked sick and weak, and he was filled with the desire to help it and care for it. He turned to his friend and said, “Miss Spider, what’s that?”
The spider turned her head—and to do this, she had to turn her entire body—and said, “What’s what? Please point to it.”
Goldenrod pointed to the sad-looking object lying on top of the moss.
“That’s a magnolia blossom,” said the spider. “They fall off of the magnolia trees one month after they’ve opened up.”
Magnolia blossom. They were the most beautiful words Goldenrod had ever heard. Gingerly, he picked up the sweet little object and cradled it in his arms the way his mother often cradled him. “Poor little thing,” he crooned. “Poor little magnolia blossom.” The words were so lovely that he sounded out each syllable as if he were trying to savor them, like he would savor a sweet fruit. “Is she sick, Miss Spider? Is she very sick?”
“Blossoms always weaken when they break from the tree,” explained the spider. “Once that happens, they have nothing to give them life anymore. That blossom will grow weaker and weaker over time, and eventually it will die.”
“Oh, no, no, no!” Goldenrod pulled the blossom close to him, as if he were protecting a child. “That can’t happen! This magnolia blossom is too young and pretty to die!” The spider attempted to say something, but Goldenrod would not be spoken over. “I won’t let her die!” he went on. “I will take her home, and my mother will know what to do to save her! The other elves can wait!”