The Tale of Jack the Worm


Jack the Worm

 Franny awoke early to get a head start on her gardening duties before spring planting. Izba, the magical cat, cared little for vegetables. He told the hedgewitch that, rather than grow vegetables, she should go to the market like everyone else. Besides, the butcher usually snuck him scraps to nibble on the way home.

Franny would hear none of it. "Come along, you lazy fur bag; I have weeds to pull, and your claws would be more helpful for destroying weeds than my carpet."

Slinking behind her, Izba followed Franny to the garden and began digging at the nearest clump of crabgrass. With a hearty tug, he ripped out a large chunk of grass.

"Serves you right for invading the garden. You are not welcome here!" said the cat, tossing the clump to the garden's edge.

"Not welcome? For your information, I was here long before you lot came digging things up with your pointy claws," said a tiny voice.

Izba looked around to see who was talking. "Who's talking to me?" replied Izba. 

"Down here. Jack the Worm, at your service, and who might you be," ask the worm.

Izba looked down and saw a small pink face sticking out of the grass. "I'm Izba. Sorry, I tossed you about. I had no idea anyone lived here," said the cat.

"Ah, that's OK. Everyone forgets about us; out of sight, out of mind," proclaimed the Annelida (worm).

By this time, Franny had noticed Izba chatting and came to investigate. Bending over, she saw Jack's grinning face.

"I see you've made a friend, Izba. Shall we invite him in for tea?" asked Franny. Izba's mouth fell open as he stared blankly at Franny. 

"Are you planning to catch a fly, or does the cat have your tongue?" the hedgewitch asked.

"I would be happy to join you for tea, Miss Witch. "As long as you give me a hand to the table," said Jack.

A short time later, while sitting comfortably, the three gardeners enjoyed sponge cake and fresh mint tea while sharing pleasant conversation.

Franny asked the worm what he was doing in the garden. "I spend most of my time tunneling through the soil while snacking on rotting leaves, decaying fruits, and an occasional dead insect or two."

Izba's face turned green. "That sounds disgusting," said the cat. 

"Don't knock it until you try it. Besides, I've seen you cats eat dead birds before," replied Jack. Franny smiled at the worm and then finished her tea.

"Is it true that you help plants grow by allowing air and water into the soil through your tunnels?" the hedgewitch asked.

"Yes," said Jack. "We also help plants grow by moving minerals around in the garden, and our waste provides nutrients for plant stem growth," added the worm.

"Well, it looks like we'd better get back to our gardening duties," said Franny. Izba carefully picked up Jack and returned him to his clump of soil.

"Thank you, Miss Witch, for the lovely tea. Remember, worms are just below, so use caution when digging in your garden," said Jack. Then he plunged his head into the soil and disappeared below the ground.

"It's nice to know we have a friend helping the garden grow even if we can't see him," said Izba. 

Franny nodded in agreement and then returned to remove the garden's weeds.

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