Once upon a sunny morning a man who sat in a breakfast nook looked up from his
scrambled eggs to see a white unicorn with a golden horn quietly cropping the roses
in the garden. The man went up to the bedroom where his wife was still asleep and woke her.
'There's a unicorn in the garden,' he said. 'Eating roses.' She opened one unfriendly eye
and looked at him. 'The unicorn is a mythical beast,' she said, and turned her back on him.
The man walked slowly downstairs and out into the garden. The unicorn was still there; he
was now browsing among the tulips. 'Here, unicorn,' said the man, and he pulled up a lily and gave
it to him. The unicorn ate it gravely. With a high heart, because there was a unicorn in the garden,
the man went upstairs and roused his wife again. 'The unicorn,' he said, 'ate a lily'. His wife
sat up in bed, and looked at him, coldly. 'You are a booby,' she said, 'and I am going to have
you put in the booby-hatch.' The man, who had never liked the words 'booby' and 'booby-hatch', and
who liked them even less on a shining morning when there was a unicorn in the garden, thought
for a moment. 'We'll see about that,' he said. He walked over to the door. 'He has a golden horn in the
middle of his forehead,' he told her.
Then he went back to the garden to watch the unicorn; but the unicorn had gone away. The man sat
down among the roses and went to sleep.
As soon as the husband had gone out of the house, the wife got up and dressed as fast as she
could. She was very excited and there was a gloat in her eye. She telephoned the police and
she telephoned a psychiatrist; she told them to hurry up to her house and bring a strait-jacket.
When the police and the psychiatrist arrived they sat down in chairs and looked at her, with great
interest. 'My husband,' she said, saw a unicorn this morning.' The police looked at the psychiatrist
and the psychiatrist looked at the police. 'He told me it had a golden horn in the middle of its forehead,'
she said. At a solemn signal from the psychiatrist, the police leaped from their chairs and seized the wife.
They had a hard time subduing her, for she put up a terrific struggle, but they finally subdued her.
Just as they got her into the strait-jacket, the husband came back into the house.
'Did you tell your wife you saw a unicorn?' asked the police. 'Of course not,' said the husband.
'The unicorn is a mythical beast.' 'That's all I wanted to know,' said the psychiatrist.
'Take her away. I'm sorry, sir, but your wife is as crazy as a jaybird.' So they took her away,
cursing and screaming, and shut her up in an institution. The husband lived happily ever after.
Moral: Don't count your boobies until they are hatched.
nook - corner
to browse / to crop - to eat
booby - foolish person
booby-hatch - mental institution
gloat - Schadenfreude
starit-jacket - Zwangsjacke
jaybird - Eichelhäher
1. Summarize the fable in your own words and explain the moral with respect to the story.
2. Characterize husband and wife and describe their relationship to each other.