Skip to main content

Charlotte’s Economy (A Fable)

  • Author:
  • Updated:
the golden spider by lichtmaedel.

Uploaded on July 17, 2007 by


By David Glenn Cox


"Who said that?" Wilbur the pig asked. "Do you want to be my friend?"

"Of course I do, Wilbur."

"Then where are you?" he asked the voice again.

"I’m up here, Wilbur, in the rafters at the back of your stall."

"You’re that little spider?"

"That’s offensive, Wilbur, we prefer to be called Arachnid-Americans."

"I’m sorry, I don’t get out of my stall much so I not up on these things."

"I understand that, Wilbur. Little pigs such as yourself don’t get to see much of the world. But we Arachnid-Americans, we have seen much and we’re your friends and we want to help you."

"What’s your name?" Wilbur asked. "What kind of spi… I mean arachnid are you?"

"My name is Charlotte. I’m a Ground Or Prairie arachnid."

"If you don’t mind my asking, Charlotte, if you’re a Ground Or Prairie arachnid, why are you up in the rafters?"

"Because Wilbur, we GOP arachnids are social climbers; that is part of our philosophy of life, to rise as far as possible and to help others climb, too!"

"You want me to live in the rafters and spin a web, Charlotte?"
"No, Wilbur, not like me. You can rise as far as a pig can rise and that will always be far below where I will rise to, but it is still better than laying in the mud and muck all day."

"I like my stall, Charlotte. They bring me fresh straw to lay in and food to eat."

"Oh, Wilbur, you poor, poor pig. Wouldn’t you like to live upstairs? Wouldn’t you like to eat the best food instead of just what they bring you? You can, you know."

"What are you talking about, Charlotte?"

"I'm talking about Zuckerman and his rules. The horses pull a plow and Zuckerman feeds them; the cows give milk and Zuckerman feeds them. But Templeton the rat works as hard or harder than any of them, and does Zuckerman feed him? No, he doesn’t. I live up here in the rafters, catching bugs day and night and does Zuckerman feed me? You see, all these rules that Zuckerman has in place are unfair to the ambitious animals."

"What about me, Charlotte? I don’t give milk or pull a plow or catch bugs. Zuckerman’s rules protect me. What would happen to me?"

"Wilbur, you are special. Once we get rid of Zuckerman’s rules there will be so much prosperity that you will live like a king. When Fern comes to see you, tell her you want the key to the feed bins to wear as a necklace. That way you will have a job, too, keeper of the feed bins."

Soon Wilbur was sporting the key around his neck on a red ribbon. Templeton the rat saw it and asked, "Say, Wilbur, let me borrow the key to the feed bins."

"Whatever for, Templeton?"

"Well, Wilbur, that feed is just sitting there; I can use it as an investment for us. I can sell it today for a profit, then when the harvest comes in the prices will fall, and I can buy it all back."

"I don’t know," Wilbur pondered. "It’s not really mine to give. It belongs to Zuckerman."

"Wilbur, Wilbur, Wilbur, Zuckerman is old fashioned; this is the new way. This is the smart way, trust us. Wilbur, are you as smart as us?"

"Well, no."

"We’re your friends, aren’t we? You can trust us, can’t you? So be a good pig now and give me the key."

"I guess so," Wilbur said as he dropped the key for Templeton.

"Charlotte?" Wilbur asked.

"The crickets have been telling me that fall is coming and after that the winter comes. They told me, Charlotte, that they will harvest the crops and sell off the livestock to be slaughtered. I’m scared, Charlotte, I don’t want to die!"

"Oh, Wilbur, I told you that you were special, and we are not going to let that happen."

The next morning, over Wilbur’s stall Charlotte had woven a special web that read, "Some Pig." This amazing feat brought people from far and wide to see Zuckerman’s amazing pig. The news was a sensation throughout the county, and Wilbur now felt safe that he would not be harvested.

As the weeks went by, the crowds began to thin as the web began to deteriorate. There were strangers on the farm and this scared Wilbur. There were men in suits and ties and Wilbur overheard Zuckerman say that they were bankers.

"Charlotte," Wilbur said, "I’m scared. There is no food in the food bins; Templeton promised that there would be at harvest time! Templeton has grown fat and has brought many new rats to the farm and Zuckerman is talking about selling the cows!"

"Don’t worry, Wilbur, I'll make a new web. Templeton?"

"Yes, Charlotte, what can I do for you?"
"I need to make a new web to save Wilbur, and I need you to find me something with words on it."

"Gee, Charlotte, I don’t get around as good as I used to. I’ve put on a few pounds, you know."

"But, Templeton, "Charlotte added with a wink, "this is for Wilbur, and he’s special!"

"Oh, yes," Templeton answered. "I almost forgot, Wilbur is special and we must take care of him!"

After a few hours Templeton returned carrying a piece of paper. He laid it out where Charlotte could read it and asked, "What do you think?"

"What does it say, Templeton?"

"It says, tax cuts!"

"How are tax cuts going to help poor Wilbur?"

"Tax cuts help everyone, Charlotte!"

"No, I’m sorry, Templeton, that just won’t do. Please go find something else."

After a few more hours Templeton again returned, dragging a piece of paper.

Charlotte asked him pointedly, "What did you bring this time?"

Out of breath, Templeton sighed and said, "You’re going to love it. It says Tax Cuts!"

"Templeton," Charlotte argued, "we don’t want tax cuts!"

"But these are different tax cuts, Charlotte! See, the print is bigger!”

"But they won’t help poor Wilbur, Templeton; we need to save him because he is special. Now go and find me something besides tax cuts!"
"I’ll go look, Charlotte, if you promise to keep an open mind about the tax cuts!"

Finally Templeton returned a third time. He had a piece of scrap paper, and Charlotte looked at it and read aloud, "Radiant! That’s perfect, Templeton!"

"I don’t know, Charlotte. I wish you would reconsider tax cuts again."

The next day Charlotte’s new web read, "Radiant."

But few noticed as the men in the suits were back and this time they took all of Zuckerman’s farm equipment with them when they left.

"Charlotte," Wilbur said, "it didn’t work. No one noticed, and the farm animals are all disappearing, Zuckerman is going to stop farming, and then what will happen to me? I think we should have stuck to Zuckerman’s rules."

"Oh, don’t be ridiculous, Wilbur. You are special, I will take care of you. Zuckerman’s rules were holding the ambitious animals back. Look at Templeton, he has grown rich and fat and so have a thousand other rats just like him. If Zuckerman fails then it will be his own fault; he wasn’t a very good farmer."

"But I liked Zuckerman and Fern, Charlotte!"

"Don’t you understand, Wilbur, Zuckerman’s not the answer, Zuckerman is the problem, and if it wasn’t for Templeton and I they would have eaten you by now! We’re your friends, Wilbur. We know that you're special, and we have big plans for you if you’ll just have to be patient, yours is coming."

Then one day a big moving van came and took the Zuckermans and their furniture away and the house grew dark.

"Charlotte, what will happen to us now?" Wilbur asked.

"Wilbur, now you relax. I’ve told you that you are special and I mean it. We will take care of you now. Templeton and I have big plans because we are ambitious animals."

The next day some men came and put a big sign in the front yard, but Wilbur could only see the backside of it.

"What does it say, Charlotte?"

"I’ll ask Templeton to find out for us."

When Templeton returned he stammered, "It’s a for sale sign, Charlotte; they are looking for entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs get tax cuts, don’t you know! The world doesn’t have enough entrepreneurs or tax cuts."

But late that night while Charlotte slept the crickets came to Wilbur and told him what it really said. "Coming Soon! Templeton’s 'Special' Pork Barbecue. It’s '
Radiant!" It’s Some Pig!'"

"Charlotte!" Wilbur cried, "How could you? If I could just get my hooves on you right now!"

"Don’t be angry with me, Wilbur. You weren’t very ambitious, were you?"

"But I was happy, Charlotte, before you and Templeton changed all the rules, and now that you're done I’m no better off than I would have been if I'd never met you!"

"That’s why you’re so special to us GOP arachnids, you’re so trusting! That’s special to us; we tell you what you want to hear and you give away the keys to the kingdom. We make promises and you never question them while we grow rich and fat and when you do ask we say, 'Be patient, yours is coming!'

"Well, now you get yours, but you can’t fight the system, Wilbur. Templeton is just trying to get ahead in life, and you're going to get to help him do that. As for me, I just stay in the shadows and pull the strings. That’s what GOP spiders are good at!"

"I thought you didn’t like being called a spider, Charlotte?"

"No, I don’t, but I am what I am. And I don’t like talking with you lowly pigs, either. I only do it as long as I need to. So shut up, Wilbur!"