The Tale of the Unicorn
Come gather ye round and listen ye well
To the tale of the Unicorn.
Surely you’ve wondered as you’ve slipped toward your dreams
How this glorious creature was born.
Well, this is the story; and truly it’s true —
’Twas told to me by a Gnome
One day as we lunched upon cloverleaf pie
’Neath the mushroom that he called home.
“Seems that once on a time — this is long, long ago”
Said the Gnome as he poured snowball tea,
“There were beasts that you’ll see only rarely today
Like the One-Dimpled Blonde Kimberly.”
Now the Kimberly’s coat was as black as the night
“And its mane tawny blonde” (so he claimed),
And on each one’s cheek — us’l’y the right —
Was the dimple for which it was named.
They frolicked and played with the fairies “(and Gnomes!)”
In a mountainous land known as Kana.
“And happy we were, for the land was at peace
Under rule of the Fairy Queen, Hana.”
But alas, in those days near the peak of one mount
Lived an Ogre named Max Terra Tremens.
And oh! he was grouchy, for he lived all alone
And dined mainly on cactus and lemons.
“’Twas the first day of summer of that long-ago year
And Queen Hana was gathering dew
With the help of a Kimberly — Kimbers by name —
And luckily I was there too.
“It’s lucky, I tell you, for had I not been
There would be no Unicorn’s tale.”
For just then, down his mountain came Max Terra Tremens
With a roar that would turn Goblins pale.
“Well, things happened so quickly we scarce knew what had
For his hand made a sweep, then came back
And the next that I knew, there was Queen Hana flailing
As the Ogre dropped her in his sack.
“With an Ogre-ish laugh he drew the sack closed
And bound the top tight with a twine.
Then he bellowed: ‘This evening on fine fairy stew
With fresh ground black pepper I’ll dine.’
“Then back up the mountain he raced with the Queen
And his footsteps, they made the ground shiver.
And I looked at Kimbers and she looked at me
And all we could do, friend, was shiver.”
And just at that moment the Gnome shook his head,
Then he said with a terrible sigh:
“I’ll tell you, my friend, it didn’t look good.
Will you have some more cloverleaf pie?”
“Yes, thank you” I said, and we each took another
For it had a most delicate flavor.
Then again he began: “Well, an Ogre is big
But a Kimberly’s many times braver.
“Hardly a moment had passed by when Kimbers
Pawed the ground and shook her blonde mane.
‘Quickly’ she said to me ‘Climb on, we’ll rescue
The Queen from the Ogre’s domain.’
“So climb on I did; and as fast as she could
O’er those steep, craggy rocks Kimbers hurried.
But with each step she took, the afternoon sun
Fell lower, and friend, we were worried.
“Then at last we arrived at the mouth of a cave;
It was his, there could be no doubt
For a sign said: ‘In this cave dwells Max Terra Tremens
And if you’re wise you’ll KEEP OUT!’
“Now no one you’ll meet dares say Gnomes are not wise;
Still I climbed down and tiptoed on through
And we crept till we came to a room where a table
Held a great steaming pot — full of stew!
“‘Alas!’ we both cried and we stared at the pot
For it surely seemed we were too late.
And we both began weeping. ‘Oh, Kimbers,’ I said
Poor Queen Hana is probably —
“For just then we heard a soft flapping of wings
And a soft, tiny fairy voice cried:
‘Let me out!’ –
‘On the wall, o’er the mantel –
There’s a cage with Queen Hana inside.’
“Well, that mantel was taller than nine or ten Gnomes
(For a Gnome is just not very tall);
But the Kimberly reared and stretched far as she could
And her nose tipped the cage from the wall.
“I climbed to the table as it fell; and I caught it,
Turned the latch, and she flew from the cage.
Then we all turned to leave and right there in our path
Stood the Ogre, his eyes filled with rage.
“‘You’ve stolen my dinner!’ he roared; then he laughed
And the sound shook his whole mountain home.
‘But there’s one meal that’s finer than plain Fairy stew:
Stew of Kimberly, Fairy and Gnome!’
“‘Uh-oh’ I murmured, and ran ’cross the table
But one step and the Ogre kept pace;
Then my foot brushed a bowl and I grabbed it and hurled
Whatever it was in his face
“And he stopped; and he blinked; then his eyes filled with tears
And wider and wider they grew;
Then he drew back his head … and he opened his mouth …
And out with a roar came: ‘AH-CHOO!
“‘Ah-ah-choo’ roared the Ogre. ‘Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-choo!’
And again and again, ‘Ah-ah-choo!’”
For you see, in the bowl that the Gnome had thrown at him
Was the fresh ground black pepper for his stew.
“Well, we left him there sneezing and ran down the mountain
Though we heard him half-way to the ground.
And for all I know, friend, he is still there this morning
Ah-choo-ing that terrible sound.”
Well, the story seemed finished; and I was quite full
So I thanked him and bid him good morn
And I started to leave; but as quickly I stopped and asked
“What of the Unicorn?”
“Ah, yes” he replied, and he seated himself
Once again. “Well, if you’re not bored
Then I’ll tell you the rest — ’tis about what the Queen
Gave the Kimberly as her reward.
“She called Kimbers to her and plucked from her mane
A single blonde hair, long and sleek.
Then she said: ‘For your brav’ry, my Kimberly, you shall
Be known at a glance as unique.’
“And with Fairy magic she spun that fine hair
To a golden and glorious horn.
Then upon Kimbers forehead she placed it and said:
‘From this day you’ll be called Unicorn.’
“And so Kimbers was, for there’s no higher law
Than the word of a Fairy Queen;
And since, every Kimberly’s born with a horn
Though it’s true that most cannot be seen.”
“And what about you — what was your reward?”
I asked; and a gleam sparked his eye.
“Oh, a Gnome doesn’t need much — a mushroom or two
And now and then cloverleaf pie.
“But you see, it’s a recipe known just to Fairies;
I’m a Gnome — she couldn’t tell me.”
But he smiled and said: “Look underneath that large mushroom.
I’m sure that you’ll like what you see.”
So I looked — and saw thousands of cloverleaf pies
In neat stacks, each high as my knee.
“Take a few for the road” said the Gnome; then he whispered:
“The Queen made them all, just for me.”
Well, that is the story, and truly it’s true,
Of how Unicorns came to be.
And if you should ever have cloverleaf pie?
Please — save just a little for me.