There once was a woman who had a quite normal job and a quite normal home. She had a normal dog and a normal cat and a gate and a small garden and she was very happy.
One morning, as she weeded her garden before work, she saw a beautiful spiderweb strung between two delphinium with a beautiful spider the shape of a diamond with black and yellow stripes. She was not afraid of spiders and in fact loved them in her garden where they killed the mosquitoes and pests. She was a very practical sort of woman and found that spiders generally left one alone and did their job well. But this spider was quite dead. She gently touched it to be sure and the spider did not move. Dead. But the web still shook because a fly had gotten caught in the sticky threads and was struggling mightily to get free.
Now the woman did not like flies any more than anyone else likes them. But as she watched the fly she began to feel sorry for it. Had the spider been alive it would have been simply an act of nature. But the spider was dead, leaving the fly to struggle until it died of exhaustion. It was an impractical thing to do, but something in the woman's heart moved and it seemed a terrible way to die, even for a fly. So she reached down and carefully pulled the fly from the sticky threads.
The fly sat on her hand for a moment as though relieved and catching its breath. The woman thought herself silly for imagining a fly feeling relieved and catching its breath. And yet, this fly certainly seemed to be doing so. She let the fly rest on her hand, though she had a practical urge to slap it and squash it dead. Had she seen it in her house she would have gotten her flyswatter. But she let the fly be, since she had saved it, it seemed a waste to now kill it.
And then the most extraordinary thing happened. The fly began to tremble all over, shaking as if it had a fever. Then it began to shake apart, pieces flying off. The pieces grew larger and reassembled and when it stopped moving there stood before the woman a small, dark woman, only about a foot tall. She was dressed in black with black hair that hung like ropes down her back. Her skin was so dark a brown the whites of her eyes seemed to shine. Her dress shimmered, like the iridescent scales of a fly's body. And yet, despite the blackness of her dress, she seemed to shine as though a light was within her.
She was the most beautiful person the woman had ever seen. The woman stepped back in awe of the tiny woman's beauty and the surprise of witnessing the transformation, which had taken only an instant.
The fairy (for what else could she be?) reached out her hand and took the woman's hand in hers and said, "I owe you much for your kindness. Without you I would surly have died in that web. As my thank you for your kindness, accept my gift. Three times in the next three days, someone will try to harm you, in ways big and small. But these evildoers will not succeed for you are under my protection. There will be justice to the evildoers and not a hair on your head will be harmed."
And with this the pieces of the fairy flew apart and shrank and reassembled until all that was left was a fly, buzzing away past her head.
The woman was truly shocked and wondered two things. The first was if all flies were truly fairies in disguise and she had been killing them all along. And the second, more worrisome thought was that someone would try to harm her three times in the next three days. She couldn't think of anyone who would bear any sort of grudge against her.
But again, she was a very practical woman and she had to get ready to go to work, so she decided not to worry over it. But of course finding out someone means to harm you is impossible not to worry about, and so she worried.