Little Barefoot

: Keep-well Stories For Little Folks

"Look out, little Barefoot, the hookworm will catch you if you don't


This is what Will seemed to hear a wee small voice say one day as he

stepped briskly along the dewy path. Will was driving the cows to the

cool, green pasture down in the meadow.

Will always drove old Brindle and Bess to the pasture every morning

before he went to school. Brindle and Bess loved the juicy grass in th

meadow pasture. They loved to drink the cool brook water. They would

stand knee-deep in it on hot days. Soft pictures of the cows, and the

tall trees, and the clouds could be seen in its water.

When the sun was high in the sky, at noon-time, old Brindle and Bess

would lie down under the trees near the brook, and chew and think, and

chew and think.

One afternoon Will came home from school limping, and tired, and hot.

His feet hurt him, so he begged his mother not to send him for the cows,

but to let some one else bring Brindle and Bess home at milking time.

Will's mother knew that something was surely wrong, for Will liked

nothing better than to call faithful Rover and romp away to the pasture.

His mother looked at his feet and found them blistered and very sore.

"We will call the doctor," she said.

Uncle John looked wise when he came to see the little fellow.

"Ah, ha! you have been going barefooted, my little man, and some young

hookworms that were in the ground or grass have gone through the skin

on your feet and made your toes and feet sore."

"What are hookworms, Uncle?" asked Will. Uncle John told him this:

"The hookworm is a very small worm, about a quarter of an inch long, or

a little more, when it is grown. It was first brought to America from

Africa by the negroes--the slaves that the Dutch people traded to our

forefathers in the colonial days.

"The little worm is called the 'American Murderer,' because it kills so

many people of the southland. It does not hurt the little negro children

as badly as it does the white children.

"The hookworm eggs are hatched in the sand. The young hookworm sheds its

skin two or three times, growing a little larger each time it sheds.

"Sometimes it will crawl upon a grass blade, or lie in the sand until a

little barefooted boy or girl comes stepping along. (The worm is now so

small that it cannot be seen.) The little folks step on the worm, and it

pushes its way through the skin. This is when it makes the sores on the

feet and between the toes.

"As soon as the little hookworms get through the skin they go into the

blood. They are carried to the heart and lungs by the veins. They go

from the lungs into the wind-pipe, and then crawl from the wind-pipe

into the gullet. It is then an easy matter for them to get into the food

tube in the body.

"The mouth of the hookworm has a sharp hook which it fastens into the

wall of the food tube. It hangs there and sucks all the blood it wants.

A hookworm will suck a drop of blood a day. In feeding themselves they

are slowly bleeding the person, drop by drop. This is the reason the

boys or girls who have hookworms look so pale, and feel so tired all the

time. The hookworm robs them of the good rich blood, and makes children,

and even grown persons, dull and lazy. The disease keeps children from


"It is easy to cure the disease, but it is better to prevent it. We can

prevent hookworm disease by preventing the ground from being polluted.

Polluted ground means that which is made unclean with waste matter from

our bodies. The eggs are found in this matter which pollutes the


"Now, Will, always wear your shoes, and see that the soles are good and

thick. Then, even though the ground is unclean, hookworms can't get to

your feet. I am sure, now that you know about hookworms, you will not go

barefooted through the lanes again."


1. What was the matter with Will's feet when he

did not want to go for the cows?

2. What caused the ground-itch blisters on his


3. How did the hookworms get into Will's feet?

4. In what part of the body do the hookworms make

their stopping-place?

5. How do they get from the feet into the


6. How may infected persons get rid of hookworms?

7. How may the hookworm disease be prevented?