In which we celebrate Saturday Stories : a story about crabs

When I was in Alaska many years ago, the coastal tourist town restaurants often featured "All-You-Can-Eat Crab Feasts" on Friday nights for a pretty cheap price.

The restaurants knew that cracking crab is a lot of work, and people who are busily cracking crab and talking to their dining companions do not actually eat much crab...but they do end up buying a lot of drinks, and desserts, and other spendy items from the menu.

For people on a very small budget, like me, crab feasts were a cheap way to gorge on fresh protein. I would order a single beer and a small salad and then grab a hammer and start pummeling my way to heaps of happy food.

One night I heard a tourist lady complain about all the work and mess required to actually feast on crab, and to my companions I said, "The best way to eat crab is to trick somebody else into cracking it for you," which was a line borrowed from a very cool story called "Nuts" in a book called The Devil's Storybook by Natalie Babbit. Then, I proceeded to re-tell "Nuts" for the folks at my table, just like I'm going to re-tell it for you right here.

Only now I call the story:


The Devil loved to eat fresh crab.

However, he didn't like the bother of cracking the shells to get the meat out.

"The best way to eat crab is to trick somebody else into cracking it for you," he said to himself, and that gave him an idea.

He took a big sack of fresh-caught crabs, and he pulled the top shell off of the crab on the very top of the sack. Into the crevice beneath that top shell, the Devil placed a beautiful pearl the size of a baby's eye. Then he glued the crabshell back together, put the altered crab back into his sack, and took himself up to the World to make some mischief.

He sat himself down at a table at the marketplace of a busy little tourist town in Alaska.

"I'll offer a free crab to somebody passing by," the Devil said to himself, "and when that person finds a pearl inside the shell, he'll go crazy looking for pearls and crack all these crabs for me."

It was a good plan.

The first person to walk by was a local woman, carrying a basket of handmade jewelry to sell at the market.

"Free crab, lady?" offered the Devil.

The woman nodded her head, and sat down at the table. She took a hammer and she cracked open the shell of the crab that the Devil handed to her, and she ate all the good meat. Then she nodded thanks to the Devil and walked away without saying another word.

The Devil was incredulous. "She must've swallowed the pearl!" he said to himself. "Or...did I give her the wrong crab?"

He reached into the sack and brought out a crab. He cracked open the shell with the hammer and ate all the meat...but he didn't find the pearl.

He took out another crab and cracked it open and ate all the meat in that one, too...but he didn't find the pearl.

He spent the entire morning cracking crabs and throwing the shells all around and eating the meat...but he didn't find the pearl.

Finally he reached the bottom of the sack, and he never did find the pearl. "She must have swallowed the pearl, the greedy woman," he grumbled to himself.

The Devil went back down to Hell and was very grumpy, because eating all that crab had upset his stomach horribly, and Hell smelled worse than ever for quite a while.

As for the woman, she waited until she was far away from the Devil's table, and then she reached into her mouth and pulled out the pearl that she had concealed under her tongue.

At the market, she traded the pearl for a warm blanket and a pretty kitten and a stack of paperback books, and then she went home well-pleased.

Because not everyone is greedy, you know.


  1. Clever!

    And then she bought bushel of crabs and shared them with her pretty kitten.


  2. And the word verification that popped up after my comment was:




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