AFTER a long and soaking rain, the Earthworms came out of
their burrows, or rather, they came part way out, for each
Earthworm put out half of his body, and, as there were many
of them and they lived near to each other, they could easily
visit without leaving their own homes. Two of these long,
slimy people were talking, when a Potato Bug strolled by.
"You poor things," said he, "what a wretched life you must
lead. Spending one's days in the dark earth must be very
 "Dreary!" exclaimed one of the Earthworms, "it is
delightful. The earth is a snug and soft home. It is warm in
cold weather and cool in warm weather. There are no winds to
trouble us, and no sun to scorch us."
"But," said the Potato Bug, "it must be very dull. Now, out
in the grass, one finds beautiful flowers, and so many
families of friends."
"And down here," answered the Worm, "we have the roots. Some
are brown and woody, like those of the trees, and some are
white and slender and soft. They creep and twine, until it
is like passing through a forest to go among them. And then,
there are the seeds. Such busy times as there are in the
ground in spring-time! Each tiny seed awakens and begins to
grow. Its roots must strike downward, and its stalk upward
toward the light. Sometimes the seeds are buried in the
earth with the root end up, and then they
 have a great time
getting twisted around and ready to grow."
"Still, after the plants are all growing and have their
heads in the air, you must miss them."
"We have the roots always," said the Worm. "And then, when
the summer is over, the plants have done their work, helping
to make the world beautiful and raise their seed babies, and
they wither and droop to the earth again, and little by
little the sun and the frost and the rain help them to melt
back into the earth. The earth is the beginning and the end
"Do you ever meet the meadow people in it?" asked the Potato
"Many of them live here as babies," said the Worm. "The May
Beetles, the Grasshoppers, the great Humming-bird Moths, and
many others spend their babyhood here, all wrapped in eggs
or cocoons. Then, when they are strong enough, and
legs and wings are grown, they push their way out and begin
their work. It is their getting-ready time, down here in the
dark. And then, there are the stones, and they are so old
and queer. I am often glad that I am not a stone, for to
have to lie still must be hard to bear. Yet I have heard
that they did not always lie so, and that some of the very
pebbles around us tossed and rolled and ground for years in
the bed of a river, and that some of them were rubbed and
broken off of great rocks. Perhaps they are glad now to just
lie and rest."
"Truly," said the Potato Bug, "you have a pleasant home, but
give me the sunshine and fresh air, my six legs, and my
striped wings, and you are welcome to it all."
"You are welcome to them all," answered the Worms, "We are
contented with smooth and shining bodies, with which we can
bore and wriggle our way
 through the soft, brown earth. We
like our task of keeping the earth right for the plants, and
we will work and rest happily here."
The Potato Bug went his way, and said to his brothers, "What
do you think? I have been talking with Earthworms who would
not be Potato Bugs if they could." And they all shook their
heads in wonder, for they thought that to be Potato Bugs was
the grandest and happiest thing in the world.