a cynic king once to his son, a prince, this tragic story told:
The Crab Who Ruled a Patch of Mud and Sand
For once upon a time within a very, very ancient world, there stood a tall and handsome little crab with bluish shell, who after drifting all his life within the sloshing seas, had landed on a tiny patch of mud along with many other little crabs who drifted landing there, and once upon this tiny patch the little crab proclaimed himself a king who even owned that tiny patch of muddy earth.
Yet much to his dismay, an older crab contested him and quick proclaimed as loud with clipping pincers stirring high above his head that he was ruler of the muddy patch, had ruled for several days, would never tolerate the challenge of another little crab.
Alack, the little handsome crab was strong enough and young, and after wrestling long and violently upon the muddy beach, the little crab pinched off the arms and eyes belonging to the older crab and drove him back into the sea, where he was quickly gobbled up by predators who waited there.
His rival thus defeated, he, the little crab, began the task of every little crab: He thought that he might rule and slowly swallow up the Earth, that by his eating he might own more land, for that is why until this day a crab will spend a lifetime eating mud to slowly swallow up the Earth.
With tiny, straining eyes on stalks that barely rose above his bluish shell, the little crab could see no farther than the distance he could reach and thus could see no other crab upon the crowded beach. He truly did believe he was alone a king who ruled the Earth.
One day a smaller, seeming soldier crab did come along who seemed to have a tiny periwinkle helmet on his head and added armor on his back. Well now, the little crab who ruled the tiny patch of mud believed this smaller, seeming soldier crab to be a servant in the service of the muddy kingdom there.
“Why do you come, my slave? What favour do you seek of me, the king of Earth?” said little crab, to which the smaller soldier nervously replied,
“I wish to travel in the world and see from differing perspectives mountains vast and shimm’ring deserts glist’ning in the brilliant sun, then worlds of ice where it is said the sun has never set, is always present in the skies. And in this world I seek to learn the truth and tragedie of life, the wisdom and serenity of death, and hopefully, I seek to know the greatest truth existing in the universe.”
“Well then, young crab. As I am king of all the Earth you seek to know a world I rule,” said little crab who wondered secretly about the world and truths therein, for deep within his heart he knew he dragged his belly on the ground and thus could be confused with ign’rant lowly creatures crawling close to Earth. He sought against the best he knew to know the mysteries of the world he ruled. Perhaps his slave would bring him answers then.
“Go forth young crab, find out about the world I rule, for I, the king of Earth, commission you to be my loyal royal spy, commission you to learn and plainly tell to me about the world you go to see and know.”
To this the smaller soldier raised his periwinkle helmet and replied like this,
“Most noble royal little crab who rules this splendid patch of mud and sand, I live to serve your every pleasure and command. For you, I’ll go into the world and bring you knowledge of the things beyond your scope, that you alone who rule this glorious land may be the wisest crab that ever lived!”
And after saying this, the tiny soldier, armor gleaming in the brilliant sun, he bowed and thanked his king and went his way into the world.
Well then, the little crab who ruled the tiny patch of mud and sand, the same who thought he ruled the very Earth in its entirety, he sat and he defended his great land for many days until the smaller soldier crab with periwinkle helmet did return.
“So tell me, slave,” so said the royal little crab who ruled the tiny patch of mud and sand, “what have you seen and come to know about the wondrous world I rule?”
At that, the smaller crab bowed low to earth with periwinkle helmet in an humble claw, and in a careful quiv’ring voice responded much like this,
“Although your slave did not go far, my lord, I learned that you are but a little crab of many crabs in all the world, and even on this little beach, for after going out from you, and as I climbed a giant tree of knowledge reaching high into the very sky, I saw the beach is covered full with crabs like you who each can see no farther than his little claws can reach, and thus upon the beach are many foolish little crabs whose eyes are low and almost blind and thus each crab believes he rules the Earth. I’ve learned you are a foolish little crab and not a king, for in the world a king must be a man.”
Then after hearing plain the soldier’s words, the little bluish crab sat on a clam and thought awhile, and in a little time, he said,
“What is this creature ‘man’ that I might understand how I might be a king?”
Well then, the smaller soldier looked into his tiny crabby mind and then remembered what he saw upon the Earth and answered in this way,
“As I sat high within the branches of that giant tree, in man I saw a creature not unlike the many foolish little crabs a-crawling on the beach, but he was even more a fool. Like you, he fought and killed and worked himself to death for tiny plots of mud and sand, but this your common vulgar soldier knows: There is no ownership for mortal, transitory, ever-fading creatures of the Earth like crabs and man. Yet worse for foolish man, he dares to even love with all his heart a creature in the world, thus here is where a crab is wiser than a man: Crabs do not love, yet man will love this creature ‘woman’ though she surely will destroy his flesh and soul.”
Still sitting on the clam, the little crab with bluish shell unearthed a shiny ring of solid gold, and as it gleamed there in the brilliant shining sun, the handsome little crab deduced this truth:
“For this is what it is to be a man: to love this horrid creature woman crawling on the Earth, this wicked beast who feeds upon the flesh of hapless victims blinded by a foolish manly quality called love. But unlike man, have I not armor on?” so said the little bluish crab. “For though this creature woman be a brute at heart, my handsome cyan armor will protect my flesh. I’ll love this woman creature to become a man, and then, since only men are kings, I’ll quick subdue the Earth and be a mighty king who wisely rules a world of crabs and foolish men who cannot rule themselves, this from atop my lofty mound of mud and sand!”
At this the smaller soldier was convinced again the bluish crab would rule the Earth. He quickly clamped his periwinkle helmet on his head and urged his master to pursue the world at once. Thus to the little bluish crab he said,
“Until this time I’ve never seen the ugly, beastly woman creature crawling on the Earth, and yet I’ve heard the greedy creature can be lured with gold and other shiny instruments and pretty things, for woman’s mind is full of lust and avarice for things and touched by vanity profound in all the world. Take up that golden ring you found, and let us set it out so that eventually we’ll catch this greedy woman creature crawling close to earth!”
Well now, the plan seemed good and so the handsome little bluish crab, he placed the shiny solid golden ring upon a blackish coral flower rare in all the world and set it in a place where it was said the woman creature passed. Then after waiting hours there, a giant creature came with hungry eyes that seemed to swallow instantly the gold so that at once the creature took the ring and thought to put it on.
“Give back my ring!” clipped little bluish crab. “‘Tis not for you, but meant to trap an ugly, brutish, savage beast called woman crawling on the Earth!”
“Dear little crab,” the creature softly, sweetly said, “this shiny solid golden ring is meant for me, for I that very creature ‘woman’ am.”
Well now, the little bluish crab was ever so surprised by what he saw that he forgot the reason why a crab was wiser than a man, for as he looked on woman there, he saw such beauty as a crab had never seen before. In woman was potential opportunity for fleshly joy and lasting earthly complement and happiness. Her voice was music ever sweetly played and still her manner caused such wanting in his little crabby heart that for a first and only time, he understood the manly quality of love.
“Do not be fooled, my falling king! Her outward beauty hides the inward savage beast she is within!” so said the smaller soldier crab with shiv’ring periwinkle helmet on his head. “You must not dare to love this creature woman crawling on the Earth! For there’s no profit even though you gain the world if you must lose your very life! Do not become ambition’s casualty! Why should my master seek to be a man, to be a creature you were never born to be. You’re better off to be a foolish little crab who rules a tiny patch of mud and sand, for in a certain worldly sense, in ruling your domain however small you truly rule the world!”
But even as the soldier spoke, the deadly woman creature smiled and seemed to woo the handsome little crab, this while she gently stroked his pretty bluish shell.
“I must become a man to rule the Earth!” said little longing loving crab. “And thus as proof of my great love, I give this solid golden shining ring to woman that she may accept such offer of my heart and claw.”
At that the woman smiled and took again the shiny golden ring and put it on.
“I gladly do accept your ring and such an eloquently-stated offer of your all-consuming love,” the woman creature said, “for you are such a pretty bluish little crab! And now, I’d like to take you home with me, that we may live as crab-like man and woman wife, but I must say I do not like the smaller, seeming soldier here with periwinkle helmet serving you. See how he loves abusing me! He’s very ugly and he must not come with us!”
And with those words the woman creature stepped down violently with heavy foot and all her might upon the smaller soldier crab and crushed him and the tiny periwinkle helmet on his head to powder on the Earth. Then as she raised her foot, the loyal soldier, body cracked and smeared into the ground, he spoke a final warning to his king:
“Fear most the creature woman when she smiles,
Whom she destroys, her prettiness beguiles.”
The woman creature quick kicked sand upon the smaller soldier lying there and stepped down once again so that this soldier, covered all with bloody sand, was just an ugly blotch upon the Earth.
“Now I have deigned to woo a lowly crab,” the woman creature said. “I let you love me though you are a simple crab who crawls upon the Earth, so you in gratitude must sacrifice your friends and dreams and still the life you had before upon the beach, a life of ruling tiny insubstantial plots of mud and sand. In gratitude you must forget yourself and all the things you love and follow after me, for it was you who chose to offer such ambitious love.”
Now then, the little bluish crab remembered why at first he ever thought to love the woman creature crawling on the Earth: He sought her to become a man to rule the Earth. Yet as she urged him on, he looked back toward the beach and then upon the ugly blotch of bloody sand that was his slave and loyal friend.
“To leave this beach?” he said. “My kingdom’s here!”
“There is no kingdom here!” said she. “This beach is full of sand and mud and foolish little crabs who cannot see how small and pitiful they are. You must forget your foolish little world and travel home with me into the realm of man.”
“You are my wife!” said little crab. “And as I love you, I am man and master over you. You may not go back to your world, the realm of man, but stay right where you are and you must be my wife and queen to rule this place. Do not forget you’re honoured to be loved by me, the man who rules the Earth, for am I not a very pretty crab-like man?”
The woman creature looked down on the love-ambitious crab in disbelief and, after scheming something in her head, she smiled a seeming subdued smile with seeming longing in her eyes and so she spoke all while she stroked his handsome cyan shell and said,
“You love me very much and with an all-consuming love, so I must stay with you, but I must say ‘farewell’ to friends and family I knew before I married you. Allow me please, my lord and manly king, a chance to see them one last time.”
Within his quickly pacing heart the little crab did truly think he loved his wife, and so he could deny no craving she might have.
“Well, very well, go bid good-bye to all,” said little crab.
“But you must come with me, my manly lord,” the softly, sweetly, gently smiling woman said, “that you might meet and come to know and love my friends and family.”
Well then, the little bluish crab, he did not wish to leave the safety of the beach, and so he offered many reasons why he had to stay, but then the creature woman smiled a certain lustful smile and he decided thus that he would go with her.
They traveled to the realm of man and in that world were foolish men who lived and died for tiny plots of mud and sand; were men important only to themselves; were men deceived, abused and finally destroyed by women offered their ambitious loves; were men whose eyes could see no farther than their tiny arms could reach.
For men were like all other lowly creatures in the world: They crawled along and dragged their bellies on the Earth. Man was no better or no worse than any beast that crawled along the muddy ground and more a fool to love this woman in the Earth.
The little crab at once decided he was better where he was upon the beach, but he had come to love the woman very much, though he was deeply discontent. For truly, he was only partially a man, a man at heart.
At night when he would crawl into her bed, when he would think to lie with her, to even hold her in his claws and love her in the night as man did woman in those days, he could not satisfy her as a woman should be satisfied. It seemed she longed for something more, and something he could never give.
All while he slept, he dreamed of beaches full of sand and mud, his bloody battles and the glorious victories, the kingdom he had left, the happy crab he was before he was a man. He even thought of his devoted soldier crab with tiny periwinkle helmet on his head. O what a kingdom he had given up! For then he learned what every slave to an ambitious love must learn: First love yourself for who and what you are before you seek to love another in the world.
Yet still, as plain as he could see just where his problem lay, because ambition made him leave the world he loved, he never could return. Because he ventured far into the realm of man, there was no way back to the beach. O how he longed to be a simple crab again! O what a waste was life to be a man! Again he tried to love the woman creature in her bed, but she could not be reached.
When morning came, his wife awoke and gently kissed his shell. Then next she said that she was hungry for an early meal and urged her husband to go out and bring it in. Well now, the little crab knew how to function on the beach, but in the realm of man, he could not find a meal. So sadly he returned with seeming empty claws back to his wife, who then pretended she was deathly sick because she had not ate.
“Give me your arm!” the woman creature told her husband then. “I know I will be better if you let me only eat your arm! I’ll die if I do not!” and after that she smiled a loving smile. Unable to resist her charms, the little crab reluctantly tore off his arm and gave it to his wife. Then after she had sucked the flesh from there she found it tasted good and so she said,
“I do not mean to cause you any pain, my love, but that was not enough. I need to eat your other arm!” and quick before the little bluish crab could back away, she snatched his other arm and sucked the flesh from there. Then after she had gained more strength, she plucked his legs and ate them one by one till finally the little crab looked more like clam with mouth and nervous eyes than crab. The creature woman gently belched and smiled and kissed her armless, legless husband then and thanked him for providing such a tasty meal.
And yet, as days went by, her hunger grew profound again, and she called to her incapacitated husband saying this,
“You are my husband there who loves me more than life itself. Thus you are duty bound: Go out and find me food to eat!”
But there the less-than-handsome little bluish crab, he had no arms or legs and so he could not walk. He sat and thought for many days and hoped to find a way to feed his wife, but he was helpless, limbless in the realm of man, a world he wished he’d never ventured to. As tears swelled on his stalk-raised eyes, he answered her to say,
“I want to feed you, but there’s nothing I can do!”
“What kind of man are you?” the woman said. “Will you refuse to feed your wife? Go out and bring me food!”
“I gave to you my arms and legs to eat,” said he, “my only means to get around within the world, my only means to work and to provide for you! I gave to you my very arms and legs to eat!”
“And did you think that I would never need to eat again?” said she. “Have you no sense, you good-for-nothing man? You are yourself to blame for being such a fool!”
Well now, the little clam-like man-like crab looked toward his woman wife and said,
“My love, you must remember that I was a fool for you! For only you!”
“I have no use for fools but one!” she said. “For this is what is done to fools!”
With that she took a heavy rock and cracked the little bluish crab apart, and with a seeming sense of greed, she sucked and swallowed down his unprotected flesh and left an empty, lifeless shell.
For this is what is done to victims of a senseless and ambitious love. The woman, for her part, did hungry go into the world again to seek another foolish little crab to eat.
And after telling to
his son the story of the crab who ruled a tiny patch of mud, the King gave this
advice: I told this story not to make you fear what woman is, but you must fear
yourself, for soon, my son, you must decide if you are brave enough to love
yourself and brave enough to rule your tiny patch of mud and sand, however
small, or be the victim of an all-consuming love.