Seaside and Wayside, Book Two  by Julia McNair Wright

Mr. Worm and His Family

O NE day I saw a boy making a hole in the ground, and he dug out a worm.

I said to the boy, "What can you tell me about worms?"

The boy said, "Worms are long, soft things, alike at both ends. If you cut one in two, each end goes off, and makes a whole new worm. They have no heads and no feet and no feelings, and are no good but for fish-bait."

The boy thought he knew all about worms. But really he knew very little about them. All that he had told me was wrong.

Worms belong to the great class of ringed, or jointed, animals. These creatures have bodies made in rings or joints.

Let us take a careful look at our humble friend, the earth-worm.

He is a long, round, soft, dark, slimy thing, and you say, "He is alike at both ends."

Is he? Let us see. His body is made of from one hundred to two hundred rings. These rings are smaller toward the two ends of the body, which are the head and tail.


Like and Not Like

Each ring has on it tiny hooks, too small for you to see. These hooks take the place of the jointed feet that his cousins have. The feet on a caterpillar will show you about how these hooks would look, if you could see them.

By these hooks the worm moves along, and digs his way in the ground. Mr. Worm can hold so fast to his den or hole, that you have hard work to pull him out.

Have you seen Mr. Robin brace his feet and tug with all his might, when he pulls out a worm? The worm is holding fast by his hooks.

You see the hooks are Mr. Worm's feet. Let us now look for his head. You have five senses. You can hear, see, feel, smell, taste. The worm can feel and taste. Some think he can smell some things. Some say that he cannot see or hear. I think that he hears, but maybe what makes him come up to look about is not hearing, but feeling a jar on the ground.

Why do we say he has a head, if he has no eyes nor ears nor nose? We say he has a head because he has a mouth and a brain.

His mouth has two lips. The upper lip is larger than the under. He has no teeth. In the back of his head, not far from his mouth, is his brain, or nerve-centre.

The worm is the only jointed animal that has red blood. Mr. Worm is dark-colored because his body is full of the earth which he swallows.

If you keep him out of the earth for a while, his skin will get pale and clear. Then you can see his red blood run in two long veins. He needs fresh air to keep this red blood pure. He dies very soon if he is shut up in a close box or case.