Selected Modern Chinese Essays: The Crab

◎ Lu Xun

An old crab grew restless. Finding himself stiff all over, he knew it was time for him to moult his shell.

He dashed here and there in search of a cave to hide. He was going to block up the mouth of the cave so that he could moult in secret. He knew it would be very dangerous to shed his shell in the open because, with his new shell still being soft, he might be eaten up by other crabs. This fear was not groundless for he himself had really seen it happen to other moulting crabs.

The old crab kept moving about in a hurry.

A nearby crab asked, “Hey, brother, what’s the rush?”

“I am going to moult,” answered the old crab.

“Wouldn’t it be all right to moult right here? I could help you out with it.”

“How horrible that would be!”

“You mean while you’re not scared of other things in the cave you’re scared of your own kind?”

“No, I’m not scared of my own kind.”

“Then what are you scared of?”

“Nothing but being eaten up by you.”