“You can’t train them you know,” said Miss Marble to Miss Monty. “They are more than a horse with a horn on its head. Despite what mythology tells you Miss Monty unicorns are the most contrary of creatures.”
The youthful Miss Monty beamed enthusiasm at Miss Marble. She had come to see Miss Marble full of ideas about unicorns and having one in her back yard.
Miss Monty was a new arrival on Grimace Street, and as Miss Marble was the longest living resident in the street, she had a lot to say about who did or didn’t move into the street. Miss Marble thought Miss Monty would add an air of youthfulness to the street, as many of the occupants were getting older and added to that, Miss Marble saw Miss Monty as potentially producing a child, and it had been a long time since anyone had heard a child cry on Grimace Street.
“But Miss Marble,” pleaded Miss Monty, “it’s there in the yard now and its so beautiful surely you must know something about caring for unicorns.”
“Well,” said Miss Marble, “they are tricky creatures that much I do know. My Aunt Mara had one and had no end of trouble getting it to get along with the other animals on her farm. It had a nasty habit of hunting down the cats and eating them. Has your unicorn shown any such tendencies?”
“No. Not for cats that I’ve noticed but it does lick its lips every time a dog wanders by.”
“Feed it lemon grass is what I suggest,” said Miss Marble taking a large plant from off her shelf and handing it to Miss Monty. “This stuff will give its mind nothing else to think about but getting the taste out of its mouth and at the same time develop a craving for lemon grass.”
A week later Miss Monty reappeared at Miss Marble’s door. Her face showed no enthusiasm at all, in fact, she looked quite worn out.
“Oh Miss Marble,” she blurted out, “the unicorn has gone crazy I’m sure. It’s running in circles, snorting, swinging about his head, its already skewered Miss Mans’ pet rabbit and Mr Fanggo’s pet rat. I’m afraid to go near it as I could end up impaled as well.”
“Goodness,” said Miss Marble, “have you been feeding it the lemon grass?
“Yes just as you said but I can’t control what else it eats can I?”
“What else has it been eating?”
“I did notice it was eating the tomato bushes I had just planted. Poor things hardly get a go on, and the unicorn helps itself and goes all crazy.”
“Ugh,” retorted Miss Marble, “tomato bushes are the worst things for a unicorn. Whatever possessed you to grow them?”
“I like tomatoes,” wailed Miss Monty, “Miss Marble what can I do.”
At that Miss Marble dragged a huge book from one of her shelves and began pouring through the pages.
“Ah ha,” she announced and immediately went to her store of ingredients and began taking down bottles and mixing a teaspoon of this with a teaspoon of that until a thin vapour began to rise from the mixture.
“When I say turn round, you turn round right?” said Miss Marble eyes focused on what she was making.
“Pardon?” asked a querulous Miss Monty.
“It’s a potion that only works if you have your back turned, now turn round.”
The two women then turned their backs, and behind them, they could hear the sounds of something happening. This went on for several moments until a rather obscene expletive was heard and Miss Marble announced the potion was ready.
“Take it home and mix it in the drinking water, a day or two should see everything settle down,” instructed Miss Marble.
“Ok,” said Miss Monty taking the sealed vial in her hand. “What’s that book called?” she asked.
“My Aunt Mara’s Eastern book of magic cures for all things great and small,” replied Miss Marble replacing it on its shelf. “The small one beside it is Aunt Mara’s Western book of magic cures for all things large and horrific. But thankfully I don’t get much call to take it down and use it. Not much large and horrific around these parts. But back on the farm, Aunt Mara had to deal with no end of the horrific. Terrible times they were, large hairy beasts, small hairy beasts and hairy beasts that sometimes were large and sometimes small. Each one intent on doing you harm. Thankfully those days are past. Now you run on home Miss Monty and let me know how the potion works.”
“Thank you, Miss Marble, I’m sure it will,” said a somewhat relieved Miss Monty and off she went to administer her unicorn with Miss Marble’s potion.
After she had gone Miss Marble sat and pondered the wisdom of allowing Miss Monty to come and live on Grimace Street. For if she was seeing unicorns and everyone knew unicorns didn’t exist what might she come up with next.
At least the potion would make her sleep.