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urchins_in_the_sea.

From The suns babies by Edith Howes.
Age Rating 2 to 4.

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Baby Urchin was vexed. "The grown-ups have all the fun," he said to his brothers and sisters. "Every day they play on the beach, while we are told to stay here amongst these stupid rocks and seaweeds. On the beach they have glorious times. I have often heard them talk about it. Why shouldn't we go?" "Yes, indeed," said the others. "Let us all go." They swam eagerly from their playground between the rocks--the queerest babies you ever saw. They looked as if they were made of chalk and glass; and each had about twelve long arms, sticking straight out in every direction from the funny white body. They were fast swimmers; they went gaily on, never thinking of possible dangers. But a hungry fish saw them, and came straight at them with wide-open mouth. Snap! The cruel jaws closed together, and a hundred Baby Urchins fell down the great throat. Then those who were left turned and swam for home as fast as their terrified arms could take them. "You were very disobedient, and you all deserved to be eaten up," said the grown-up Urchins when they heard what had happened. "And besides, it is no use coming to the beach yet. You can't possibly roll on the beach with those long arms of yours." "It seems to take such a long time to grow up," said Baby Urchin. "Eat plenty," said the grown-ups, "then you will soon be like us." Time passed. The little Urchins did not again try to reach the beach, but they ate plenty and they grew big. Then they began to change. Their funny arms grew shorter and shorter till they disappeared altogether; their bodies grew thicker; and then at last their shells began to come. "Now we are growing up!" cried Baby Urchin joyfully. Their shells grew fast, and so did the babies inside, changing their shape altogether. Up and down the round shells ran rows of tiny holes, and in between the rows of holes scores of little white balls grew out. On the balls movable spines grew, and through each hole peeped a new leg ready to stretch far out when it was needed for swimming or walking. Under the shell was the mouth; from it five strong white teeth hung down to crush the seaweed and break it up for food. On top of the shell were tiny eye specks. At last they were ready. "Come on," cried Baby Urchin. "Nobody can hurt us now." He led the way to the beach. They all followed, swimming with their legs and spines, and looking like hedgehogs in the sea. What a time they had when they reached the beach! They swam in with a wave, rolled over and over on the beach, burrowed with their tiny spines in the soft sand, and then swam out with the next wave. "It is splendid to be grown up," they said.

       



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