Even if I'd been given to speech, I'd have been struck dumb by this exquisite girl....Then I realized there was one additional person in the cathedral. A man, standing behind me, who turned toward me and smiled. That smile! It was the first time anyone had ever looked at me as though I were someone who mattered. As if he were saying to me, without words, "Because you and I are men, we apreciate feminine beauty when we see it." From the moment Aran sees Peter Abelard and his lover, Eloise, he wants nothing more than to surround himself with the coulple's renowned beauty, intelligence, and eloquence, which seem to offer a path of hope away from his cruel and impoverished childhood. Aran is still mourning the recent death of his devoted mother, who had taught her mute son how to spin wool, as well as the art of listening. Now Aran, born tongue-tied, has been peddled to a merchant of human grotesqueries by his brutal older brother and is about to have his body forced into the shape of a human spider. When Abelard, in need of a servant who will not talk of his affair with Eloise, rescues Aran from Master Galien, it seems that the boy's dream has come true. He is quickly given the name of Spider and accompanies the famous couple around France as they confront the various plights brought about by their overwhelming passion. During this time, he learns how to read, silently. Little by little, Spider becomes enmeshed in the lives of Abelard and Eloise, and his gifts of reading, spinning, and listening enable him to become the thread connecting the two people he worships most. In this fictional account of the true story of Abelard and Heloise, the famous twelfth-century French lovers, Gloria Skurzynski has created a tale of patience and devotion, and of the beauty created from the space between silence and words.