“I am still the only snail with no shell in all of the pond” so said Dell as he awoke one morning. “I must find me a shell. A shell that no one is using.” So once again Dell searched for a shell to call his own. Dell comes upon a very pretty shell lying at the bottom of the pond. Using one of his antennas, he taps on the shell three times saying “Knock, knock, knock. Hello, is anyone in there?” A voice from inside said “Go away! I am sleeping!”
It seems no matter how far or how long Dell searches, he cannot find an empty shell to move in to. Dell then comes upon an old shell with a hole in it. A big shell too! Dell said, “Certainly no one is using this shell. A shell with a hole in it has to be empty. Oh please let this one be empty!” Dell knocks on this shell too. Dell calls out “Hello, is anyone in there?” A very old voice calls out “ I am! What do you want?” Then Dell said, “I was just looking for an empty shell, I could have for my own.” Then the old crab that lived in the big old shell with a hole in it, came out to see Dell. “I have had this shell all my life. I still need it.” Says the old crab. Dell tells the old crab about how he lost his shell and has been living without a shell for a very long time. Once, Dell finishes telling his story the old crab looks at Dell and begins to speak. “I am very old and soon will not need my shell. You may stay with me and share my shell. There is room enough for both of us. When I no longer need it, it will be all yours.” Dell happily moves in to the old crab’s shell. He has not only found a shell to call home, but a friend as well.
That night a terrible storm came to the pond. It rained hard. It rained long. The water was rising fast. Dell was thinking that it was good he had a shell to keep him safe that night. The waters swirled around him and the old crab. The old crab was sleeping through everything, but Dell stayed awake! Suddenly, their shell was lifted up and started moving swift as can be. Dell was afraid to look out. He stayed tucked away deep down in the big old shell next to the old sleeping crab. Eventually Dell also fell asleep. Finally the storm stopped. The shell stopped moving too. The sudden jolt of the shell stopping woke Dell up. Dell crept out to take a look around. Dell and the old crab were beached! Their pond they had called home was gone! As far as Dell could see, there was nothing but sand. Dell called to the old crab, “Wake up! Wake up! Our pond is gone!” But the old crab did not come out. Dell crawled back into the shell to get him but he was gone. The old crab was no longer in the shell. Dell thought maybe the old crab was washed out through the hole in the shell during that terrible storm. Dell decided to search for the old crab to make sure he was okay. Being the smart snail that Dell is, he figured he could crawl faster and search more places, if he left the shell behind. The shell was heavy and would slow him down. Dell figured that once he found the old crab he could just trace his snail trail in the sand back to their shell. So, out Dell went, to search for his friend the old crab.
Dell searched all day and into the night. He found no trace of his friend the old crab. All Dell found was just more sand. Sand was everywhere! So Dell decided to stop and rest. He dug a small burrow into the sand for shelter and went to sleep.
The next morning the call of the sea gulls flying outside woke him up. He peeked outside to take a look. He saw the sea gulls diving into what appeared to be water just a few yards away. Being the smart snail that Dell is, Dell decided to stay safely tucked away in his burrow until the sea gulls left. So he went back to sleep.
“Wow, what is that?” Dell said as he woke up to water washing through his burrow. Then another wave of water came and washed over Dell again. And again the water left. Dell was spitting out water that tasted like salt! Dell said, “What kind of water is this?” “My pond water never tasted like this!” Dell hurriedly crawled to dryer ground to get away from the waves of salty water. Once he was safely on dry ground, Dell took a look around.
The sun was setting and the day was almost over. He had slept all day. Dell had been very tired from searching for his friend the old crab. Dell could not believe the size of this pond here. As far as the eye could see was nothing but sand and water. Then Dell figured it out. Dell realized that this was no pond at all. This was the ocean! Before going to sleep the night he moved in with the old crab, the old crab was telling Dell about his life, about when he lived in an ocean, before he moved to the pond. This must be the ocean! Dell became very excited. He remembered the old crab telling him about how each morning when the sun was coming up, hundreds even thousands of shells would wash up on shore. There would be shells of all sizes and shells in all colors and shells in all shapes. Now Dell could hardly wait for night to be over, so he could go out and find a great shell to live in. So Dell settled down to sleep, but he kept thinking about his friend the old crab.
Dell was sad that he had not been able to find him. Dell also knew he could not find his way back to the old shell with a hole in it, because the ocean waves had washed away his snail trail that he had left in the sand. Dell thought maybe the old crab had found his way back to his shell. Eventually, Dell drifted off to sleep in his new burrow that he had dug.
The next morning Dell was awakened by the sound of waves crashing to the shore. Right away he said, “I must go and find me another shell to live in.” The sun was barely coming up. Dell said, “Great, my timing is perfect.” He crawled out onto the beach to look for his new shell. As the sun rose higher into the sky, the rays of sunlight fell upon a sight to behold. The beach was loaded with shells of all sizes and shapes and the colors were dazzling as rays of sunshine cast upon them! It was just like the old crab had told him! Dell searched through the shells talking the whole time. “This one is too large. I have never seen a shell that large. I wonder who lived in such a big shell as this. Not this one. No. No. Maybe. I will keep this one in mind. That one is too small.” So on and so on. It was hard for Dell to believe that just a few days ago, he could not even find one shell, and now there are so many!
Finally, Dell stopped in front of one shell. It was the perfect shell! It looked just like the shell his old friend the crab shared with him, except for one thing. This one did not have a hole in it. This one was perfect. It was a beautiful shell. Dell said, “I am going to take this shell. Then I am going to find my friend the old crab, and we shall both live in it. I do not care how long it takes. I will find him no matter what! This perfect beautiful shell shall be our home together.” So Dell crawled into his new shell, and began to search for his friend the old crab, except this time he was taking his shell with him.
Dell wondered which direction to go. Now being, the smart snail that Dell is he figured it out. Dell said, “I will go in the opposite direction of the ocean. I had to have come from that direction, because I ended up here. That should eventually get me back to the pond I have always lived in.” So, off Dell went to begin his journey home, and to find his friend the old crab. Again Dell searched far and low to find the old crab, and he took his brand new shell everywhere he went. Dell asked everyone he ran in to, if they had seen the old crab. The answer was always no. During Dell’s journey, the sand turned to rock, and the rock turned to dirt, and the dirt was soon full of plants and trees, as Dell trudged back towards home. The day turned to night and the night turned to day again, and this time Dell did not stop to rest or sleep. Dell just kept going. Finally Dell reached familiar territory. He started to recognize the plants and the trees, so he knew the pond he called home was near. And just before night was about to fall, Dell arrived at the pond’s edge. Dell had made it back home! Dell slid into the water, and took a drink. Dell said, “There is nothing like the taste of cool sparkling water without any salt in it, to quench your thirst.” He then parked his shell in the same spot where he had met the old crab. Then Dell crawled down deep into his shell to get some sleep. Dell was sad realizing that he may never see his best friend the old crab again. Finally, Dell drifted off to sleep.
“Knock, knock, knock, is anyone in there?” Again “knock, knock, knock, is anyone in there?” Dell began to wake to the knocks and said, “I am in here. What do you want?”
The old voice answered back, “Well, I was just looking for a shell, I could have for my own.” Dell was still half asleep and said, “What did you say?” Then the old voice said “Well you see, this awful terrible storm came and washed me out through the hole in my old shell. I was sleeping and when I woke up, my shell was gone, and my buddy was gone too.”
Dell was awake now and he could hear every word. Dell fast crawled out of his shell to see his old friend the crab. Dell said, “I am not dreaming! It is you!” Then Dell hugged his friend the old crab. The old crab said, “Take it easy Dell. Take it easy.” Then Dell asked, “How did you find me? I looked everywhere for you!” The old crab said I know you did Dell. I was looking for you too, and that is how I found you! I kept running into everyone you had talked to, when I was looking for you Dell. They would tell me, yes we have seen Dell, and he was here looking far and low for you. That is how I tracked you back to the pond. Everyone you spoke to when you were looking for me would just point in the direction you went.”
Then Dell said, “I am so glad that you are okay! I want to show you something. Look at this wonderful shell I brought home.” Then Dell looked into the old crab’s eyes, and said, “This is our home! I want you to live in this shell with me, until the day comes that you do not need it anymore.” The old crab took a long look at the shell Dell had chosen. This shell was just like his old one, except it did not have a hole in it. It had the same colors, the same shape, and the same size. The old crab was so touched, that a tear fell from his eye. Then, in his old quivering voice, the old crab said, “Thank you Dell. You have brought us a fine shell back to live in, and I would be happy to live in it with you, until the day comes that I do not need it anymore.”
*In the story the crab never had a name. He was always called the old crab. What do you think we should name the old crab?