Seaside and Wayside, Book Two  by Julia McNair Wright

Mr. Worm's Cottage by the Sea

O N the seashore you will find two or three kinds of worms. These are called "Tube Worms," from the shape of the houses which they build. Some of them are called "Swimming Worms."

The swimming worm is cousin to another family of creatures which look like worms, but have many feet. They have a name which means "many feet."

You know that on most of the rings, in the body of the worm, are hairs or hooks. You can see how easy it would be for these to become feet.

Each animal seems to have parts that are like some other animals, and some new forms of its own. Thus, next the worm, with his rings and hooks, comes another animal with rings and feet. Of all the ring animals, Mr. Worm is the pattern, and after him comes his cousin, Mr. Many-Feet.

While Mr. Many-Feet is like Mr. Worm, he is also like Mrs. Fly, and seems to come between the two, a little related to both.

Now let us look at the sea-side worms. Here we find some worms that have eyes. We also find some that have little hard teeth, set in a ring inside their mouths. There are some that have fine plumes, as gay as any bird. These poor worms gleam like a rainbow.


Are they Cousins?

New parts can grow on these worms as well as on the earth-worm, or even better. Some say that they can even get a new head if the old one is lost.

Some of these worms can bore into very hard things, as wood or stone. Some of them shine like a fire. Ask some one to tell you of this kind of light; it is like what we call Jack o' Lantern.

Dig in the sea sand anywhere, and you will find worms, black, brown, green, red, orange. They dig through sand and mud, and move very fast.

It is not yet known how these worms bore into stone and wood. Perhaps it is by means of some acid stuff in their mouths. Perhaps it is by a file, such as Mr. Drill has.

If you look along the sea sand of some shores, you will find the tube-homes of these sea worms. In their way of making a shell-home, and making it larger as they grow, they are like the little shell-fish you have read of.

Most of these tube-homes are small, but some are very large. A gentleman told me he had one with the bore or hole as large as his arm.

These worms by the sea serve as food for many fish and other creatures. You know that nearly all fish like to eat worms, and that they are used for bait. The boy who knew nothing else about worms knew they made good bait.

He would have been full of wonder if I had told him that large worms are used for food by men in some parts of the world. In this country we do not make use of such food.