‘Tis said that her majesty Queen Elizabeth I of England was taking a stroll in the garden, accompanied by her chief advisers. As they often did, these men were urging her majesty to wed. The Queen merely brushed off their concerns like flies. At length, one of the men demanded of her outright:
“But why will her majesty not marry? Surely a husband would be of great use to her majesty.”
Elizabeth walked a few more paces, then stopped near the branches of a small tree. She gestured to two thin twigs. Woven between them was a large web, in the middle of which sat a huge spider.
“How many spiders do you see on this web?” she asked.
“Only one,” replied the advisers, puzzled.
“I am like this spider,” said the Queen. “As she rests in the center of her kingdom, perfectly capable of snaring her own prey and feeding herself, so am I. See how she dexterously maneuvers herself from one thread to another; a mate would only get in her way.”
One of the advisers spoke up: “And yet, your majesty, the spider needs that mate to produce offspring.”
“True,” said Elizabeth, “and when he has fulfilled his part, the female spider will entrap and eat him, as if he were no more than the customary fly. I would not wish such a fate on any man.” Then, smiling, she calmly took her leave of her councilmen, whom afterward never did press the issue of marriage quite so enthusiastically.