Genre: Fiction: Middle Grade Fantasy
Author: Kathryn Jacoby
“I’ve shown you how to earn your paycheck,” Aunt Rita said. She was still smiling. “Now I’m going to show you how to keep your job. Broom, let’s finish up!” she said and patted the hazel broom handle. Her broom headed for the nearest open window and began to pick up speed. The spider banged against the wall with a loud “Oomph!” before being dragged upward and out the window. Delores followed behind and raced to catch up with her aunt, who now flew at breakneck speed over the forest below.A large blue body of water appeared below them. “How about dropping him into the lake over there?” Delores suggested to her aunt. “I can cut the cord and drop him like a pumpkin fritter into hot grease!”
But Aunt Rita shook her head and continued to fly away from the lake. The back of another castle came into view below. A forest surrounded the castle on three sides, only leaving the front unobstructed. Aunt Rita flew closer to the castle, stopping only a few hundred yards away. She turned her broom and called out, “Get ready to fly! Ready, Argie?”
“Who’s Argie…,” Delores began. Her voice caught in her throat as an orange and black leg reached over the side of the old witch’s broom. Delores shook her head to clear her throat and tried to call out to her Aunt. She still couldn’t speak, but managed to wave her arms toward the broom straw where four spindly legs now clung.
Aunt Rita turned to see the velvet head emerging over the end of the broom. “Took you long enough this time, Argie,” she called back to the spider with a laugh.
“Maybe if you didn’t almost knock me out when you banged me against the wall, I’d be a little faster climbing up,” Argie called back, none too pleased. He pulled his enormous bulk onto the straw and perched there now behind Aunt Rita.
“Close your mouth before you catch flies,” Aunt Rita said to Delores.
“No, leave it open,” Argie interrupted, “I could use a snack. Welcome to the world of Cobweb Catching.” He extended a long leg toward Delores as her broom pulled up beside Aunt Rita.
“Shake hands with your new business partner. Show some manners,” snapped Aunt Rita.
Delores sat dumbfounded. “Since when do we associate ourselves with spiders?” she demanded. “I thought I was going to be eaten by one of them last night! But then, that might have been better than putting up with her babbling.”
“That must have been Maude,” laughed Argie. “She never can keep that trap shut. She’s got a million little ones just like her. When they get together…”
Aunt Rita’s green eyes bored into the spider, who suddenly appeared to be checking out a mosquito flying dangerously close. “You know us, Rita, we’d never bite the heads off of the witches that feed us.” Argie inched back from Aunt Rita, now fully turned around on her broom.