Many years ago, in our small freshwater aquarium, we had a tiny crab named Kremlin—so named because of his aggressive behavior toward the fish in the tank, mostly neon tetras. Kremlin would rest quietly on the bottom of the tank, waiting for a passing fish, which he would attempt to snag with a claw. I don’t think we ever actually caught him in the act of catching a fish, but the population of the tank was slowly decreasing, and we had no doubt who was responsible. We had mixed feelings about the little fellow, but he was far and away the most interesting inhabitant of the tank.
From time to time, Kremlin made himself scarce, hiding among the rocks or plaster formations. We got used to his being unseen for a day or two at a time, but on this occasion, we’d missed him for longer and were starting to fear that he’d gone to meet his maker. And then…one morning I walked into the room—Good Friday, it was—and saw the empty remains of his shell. Ah, Kremlin. This time his disappearance was for real, then. Gone. Dead. His remains eaten by the algae eating catfish, we presumed. I mourned him, but life went on.
Easter morning—I went to feed the remaining fish. There, to my astonishment, scuttling along on the bottom of the tank, was Kremlin! Back from the dead, full of life and vigor, and determined to have fish for lunch. This was impossible, it was a miracle!
It took me a few minutes before I realized, with some embarrassment, that he was about one shell-size larger.
Kremlin molted two or three more times before he really did go to meet his maker. And each time, the silly little crab took us by surprise. Or, maybe, it wasn’t the crab who was so silly.
Thanks, by the way, to my daughter Julia, for reminding me of this story in time for Easter.