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The Crab That Played with the Sea_Just So Stories for Little Children

 BEFORE the High and Far–Off Times, O my Best Beloved, came the Time of the Very Beginnings; and that was in the days when the Eldest Magician was getting Things ready. First he got the Earth ready; then he got the Sea ready; and then he told all the Animals that they could come out and play. And the Animals said, ‘O Eldest Magician, what shall we play at?’ and he said, ‘I will show you. He took the Elephant — All-the-Elephant-there-was — and said, ‘Play at being an Elephant,’ and All-the-Elephant-there-was played. He took the Beaver — All-the-Beaver-there-was and said, ‘Play at being a Beaver,’ and All-the Beaver-there-was played. He took the Cow — All-the Cow-there-was — and said, ‘Play at being a Cow,’ and All-the-Cow-there-was played. He took the Turtle — All-the-Turtle there-was and said, ‘Play at being a Turtle,’ and All-the-Turtle-there-was played. One by one he took all the beasts and birds and fishes and told them what to play at.

But towards evening, when people and things grow restless and tired, there came up the Man (With his own little girl-daughter?)— Yes, with his own best beloved little girl-daughter sitting upon his shoulder, and he said, ‘What is this play, Eldest Magician?’ And the Eldest Magician said, ‘Ho, Son of Adam, this is the play of the Very Beginning; but you are too wise for this play.’ And the Man saluted and said, ‘Yes, I am too wise for this play; but see that you make all the Animals obedient to me.’

Now, while the two were talking together, Pau Amma the Crab, who was next in the game, scuttled off sideways and stepped into the sea, saying to himself, ‘I will play my play alone in the deep waters, and I will never be obedient to this son of Adam.’ Nobody saw him go away except the little girl-daughter where she leaned on the Man’s shoulder. And the play went on till there were no more Animals left without orders; and the Eldest Magician wiped the fine dust off his hands and walked about the world to see how the Animals were playing.

He went North, Best Beloved, and he found All-the-Elephant-there-was digging with his tusks and stamping with his feet in the nice new clean earth that had been made ready for him.

‘Kun?’ said All-the-Elephant-there-was, meaning, ‘Is this right?’

‘Payah kun,’ said the Eldest Magician, meaning, ‘That is quite right’; and he breathed upon the great rocks and lumps of earth that All-the-Elephant-there-was had thrown up, and they became the great Himalayan Mountains, and you can look them out on the map.

He went East, and he found All-the-Cow there-was feeding in the field that had been made ready for her, and she licked her tongue round a whole forest at a time, and swallowed it and sat down to chew her cud.

‘Kun?’ said All-the-Cow-there-was.

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