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wiggle waggle.

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

Start of Story

Mrs. Earth-worm made a hole under the ground and put an egg in it. Round the egg she wrapped clear jelly to serve as food for the little one when it should hatch. Then she went back to her burrow. Soon Wiggle-Waggle came out of the egg. He was the tiniest worm you could imagine, but he had a fine appetite; he ate all the jelly his mother had left for him. Then he began to nibble at the earth, and he liked it so much that he went on nibbling. There were all sorts of nice things in it--scraps of leaf and stalk and root and seed--just the things he liked best. The more he ate the bigger he grew; soon you would hardly have known him. One day he thought: "I wonder what it is like above the ground? I will go up and see." He began to burrow in an upward, slanting direction, breaking down the earth with his hard little mouth, and swallowing it out of the way. At last he reached the surface of the ground and poked his head through into the daylight. But he drew back quickly into his burrow again, for the strong light hurt him. He could not see it, for he had no eyes, but he could feel it on the skin of his head, and he did not like it. "It makes me feel quite ill," he said. He pulled some loose earth into the mouth of his burrow, and coiled himself round till night fell. Then he came out once more. Ah! things were very different now! The air was cool and moist, and delightfully dark; hundreds of neighbour worms were crawling over the ground, feasting and talking and visiting one another. "Oh! there you are at last," said his mother from the next-door burrow. "I have been listening for you. Fix your tail into the top of your burrow, and sway yourself round and feel for your food. Then you can slip back easily if an enemy comes near. There are many enemies about, so listen carefully. And never stay up till daylight comes, or a bird will catch you." So Wiggle-Waggle entered into the busy night-life of the garden. At first he followed his mother's advice, keeping his tail in his hole while he felt for green leaves, dragging them into his burrow. Later, he grew more venturesome, and crawled out over the ground to make the acquaintance of his neighbours. He lined his burrow with soft leaves and gathered tiny stones together to hide the entrance from the eyes of his enemies. Life was busy and pleasant, and he grew big and strong. But one night he stayed up too long; when the red light of morning sprang up in the eastern sky he was quite three feet from his home. He hurried, darting his head as far forward as he could reach, sticking his front bristles in the ground, drawing his body up in a loop, dropping it, and then darting his head forward again. He went swiftly, but not quite swiftly enough. An early blackbird saw him, and swooped down upon him. His head and half his body were already in his burrow, but the blackbird's beak closed on his tail. He stuck all four rows of sharp bristles like tiny pins in the ground, and held on for his life, while the blackbird pulled hard for its breakfast. Snap! crunch! tear! It was dreadful. Poor Wiggle-Waggle parted in the middle, and the blackbird flew off with half of him. Wiggle-Waggle was not dead, but he felt very unwell. He wriggled down to the bottom of his burrow, and kept very quiet for a long time. And a wonderful thing happened. New rings of body, and then a new tail, grew on the broken end, and soon he was a whole worm again, with only a join-mark to show that an accident had happened. When he goes up at night now to feed and visit his neighbours, he is very careful not to stay too late. He is still living in his old home, unless the last heavy rain has flooded his burrow and washed him out.

       



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