Bookworms!

Ok, Barnes' first chapter narrator is a death-watch beetle, not a woodworm. I think what I found is the larva of a common furniture beetle. My early nineteenth-century, octavo hardcover was mailed from England where the furniture beetle "is the most prevalent wood boring insect found in buildings". However, I may be confusing it with something else.

I had already flipped through the pages a couple of times before I noticed the brown lump attached to the back board, bottom edge, and bottom cap. At first I thought it some ancient dust ball but it was spongy to the CocoonCocoontouch. Perhaps a flaw in the leather binding? When I opened the back cover all the way, the pages flipped away from one edge. Ever so gently I pulled the lump away from the back board and the bottom cap with a pair of tweezers.

A little larva hit the table with a click - deader ‘n a doornail. Poor little guy. I guess the woodworm's demise is my good fortune because the book has no signs of damage to the text block. A snug little berth remains munched lightly into the back board, a barely noticeable momento mori. Sometime over the last 180 years, my woodworm tunnelled in through the binding and built a cocoon in that cozy little space between the bottom edge and the shelf. For some reason it never lived to tunnel back out. OutsideOutsideInsideInsideSnug as a bugSnug as a bugForced entryForced entry