6

So Ugly I’m Cute?

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(ed. note – Due to the reaction humans have to blobfish looks, Bob has requested that we only use one picture. Therefore, the rest of the pictures will not be of blobfish.)

Hobart, Tasmania – Greetings. Ahab the Whale here. As you may recall, Cat wanted each of us to report on an unusual animal this year. Recently I received a reader request to know more about blobfish. Since Oceania is my beat, I thought I’d do both at the same time.

Easier said than done. Blobfish live far, far under the sea. They move along just above the ocean floor. Way, way too much pressure for a guy like me. No Internet. No cell phones. I talked with my colleagues. Someone knew a guy who knew a guy who had done something with blobfish. It was the best I got.

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The guy suggested I set up a relay to get the questions down and the answers up. I needed three intermediaries between me and Bob the blobfish, with an equal number of translators. I hope I didn’t lose everything in translation.

Ahab: It’s nice to meet you Bob.

Bob: Thanks for talking to me.

Ahab: Pardon me for asking. Do you look like a blob?

Bob (sighing): No I look pretty much like any other fish down here. But because it’s so deep I don’t need much in the way of muscle or bone to keep my shape. Those stupid humans have never seen me down here.

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Ahab: You’ve never met a human?

Bob: No it’s way too deep for them. They only see us when one of us gets caught in their fishing nets.

Ahab: That’s a shame. I’ve seen some of them after they’ve been in the water for a while. Not a pretty site. Just like them to judge though.

Bob: Since they can’t come down here, they can’t see what we really look like. I’ve heard them say we’re about 12 inches long and 20 pounds. I don’t know what that means, but I’m guessing it’s dead weight. (A little blobfish humor, I think.)

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Ahab: So is the food good?

Bob: Not bad. We mainly eat crabs, sea urchins, and shellfish. We just move along and wait for it to swim into our mouths.

Ahab: That is a good deal. Do you have to worry about someone else swimming along and getting you?

Bob: We’re pretty much top of the food chain down here. Except for the humans of course. I’ve heard we don’t even taste good to them. They think we’re “rubbery.”

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Ahab: That’s probably good. I’ve heard they’re rather tasty.

Bob: Hmm, that’s interesting. (I think this might have been a side comment from one of the translators.)

Ahab: Do you have a partner or children?

Bob: I don’t believe the humans know anything about our reproduction, and I’d prefer to leave it that way. Once they know anything, they always want to know more.

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Ahab: I understand completely. It’s really rather embarrassing the amount of time they spend discussing the sex lives of other species. The other thing is how long we live. What difference does it make to them? We don’t care.

Bob: Exactly! It’s not like there’s any way to tell down here.

Ahab: You’ve been a wonderful guest. Is there anything you’d like to add?

Bob: I would like to suggest that it’s not very polite for the humans to have a contest for the ugliest animal.

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(Canadian Mr. Rude)

Ahab: Don’t let it bother you, Bob. They only do it to take their minds off how funny looking they are.

Bob: Thanks, Ahab. It was nice talking to you.

Ahab: Take care of yourself, Bob.

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(pictures courtesy of Google Images)

3

Vox Animalibus*

*Voice of the Animals

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Angus McFluffin

 

We received a lot of feedback from our recent article, Cat Forum: Interview with Abby. We thought that we would share some of it with you.

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Princess Pawsome: I enjoyed your recent interview with Abby. I thought it was very interesting to hear from such a nice dog. Perhaps in the future, you could do interviews with other animals. Maybe you could talk to a bird or a fish.

(Thank you for your idea. We will put that in our file for further research.)

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Muffy Manx: I think that Abby sounds like a very sweet doggy. However, I read Cat Forum to learn about cats and cat stuff. I don’t think dogs fit in either of those categories. If you do something similar in the future, maybe you could call it “Animal Forum” or something so I will know not to read it.

(Thank you for your feedback. We apologize if we created any confusion.)

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Maxx Katt: Thank you for your recent Cat Forum about Abby. I read it to my girls and they loved it. However, now they want to get a dog. I have no idea where to look. Would you please advise?

(We have never actually had a dog in-house. However, we recommend that you try the local shelter.)

Probably the most unusual feedback we got came from a dog:

Louie Dog: I don’t get how a nice dog like Abby would get caught up with a group like you. I know Abby, and I can’t believe she’d talk to a bunch of cats. Cats! I hate cats.

Needless to say, Snoops and Kommando Kitty were pretty upset by Louie. But since we are an equal opportunity organization, we decided to give Louie the chance to explain himself.

Snoops and Kommando refused to talk to him. So we put our new investigative reporter, Angus MacFluffin. on the job. His interview follows.

Is it true that you hate cats?

Well, it’s not that I hate them. They’re just so funny looking and easy to chase.

Have you ever met a cat?

Actually I live with 3 cats. They really don’t care for me due to the fact that I look at them as targets to chase!! Hahahahahahahhaaha

Rumor has it that you have used controlled substances. Is that true?

Well see my extravagant human mom smokes constantly and I love to smell her tubes and bags. I can’t help it – they smell so good!!!! I love to roll around in her empty bags!

Do you think that it’s has any impact on your opinion of things?

No, I don’t. I think helps out a lot people and dogs. It helps my mom’s moods… she yells A LOT.

What breed of dog are you? Do you consider yourself a large dog?

I am a handsome fluffy full of p*** and vinegar 24/7 Shitzu. I have a large macho man personality! I’m very aggressive with my woman Roxie and she’s a German Shepard!

Do you get along with other dogs?

Well like I said I have a woman. It’s a cougar thing – she’s very old. And we have a roommate named Rascal. He’s a pug, and he’s off the charts of being on the weird side. I only like these 2 dogs; others I don’t pay no mind to.

What about other animals?

I wouldn’t know. I’ve only came across cats and dogs.  But mom keeps asking me about an iguana…. whatever the h*** that thing is.

Do you always have such a strong opinions about things?

Yes I do. I hate it when my mom doesn’t let me always have my way!!!! I get very, very vocal with her even though I’m going to get yelled at and my cookies taken from me!! Seriously – the cookies??

Do you think your human has any impact on the way you feel about things?

No – I really don’t know – she’s crazy – even though – we clash but I know she means well… FYI SHES SO D*** LOUD! She keeps saying it’s a Leo thing like I’m supposed to know what that means. Hahahaha

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

No there isn’t. But I read Abby’s interview and I loved it. That’s my home girl even though she don’t ever wanna play with me!! Love her human, though. Wendy’s so nice to me!

(ed. note –  We will not be interviewing any more dogs for Cat Forum.)

 

6

Piranhas are Not Good Neighbors – Part 2

To find the first part of the story, look here.

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Dave and Christine took their daughter Sara to the Emergency Room to make sure there were no serious injuries. Once they cleaned up her fur, there wasn’t too much damage. One cut that needed a couple of stitches was about it.

Once they were home and Sara was in bed, Dave and Christine started talking about Buzz.

Dave: The man is a nightmare. The piranhas are bad enough. But he’s helping the humans destroy capybara land. He’s an embarrassment to our species. I’m going to talk to the lawyers tomorrow to see what we can do.

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Christine: All those poor capybaras. I wonder what’s happening to them.

Dave (sarcastically): Don’t ask Buzz. He’s probably selling them to tourists as pets.

Christine: Don’t even joke about that.

The next morning, Christine and her friends got together to talk and watch their children play. Of course, the main topic was Buzz.

Priscilla: How is Sara? She looked pretty scared last night.

Christine: She’s fine. Of course, she’s not happy that they had to shave her fur to put in the stitches. I told her it would grow back, but I don’t think she believes me.

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Sue (giggling): Did you smell him yesterday? I couldn’t imagine what he had gotten into his fur. I took him aside and told him that he might want to wash it off. I was trying to be discreet. Do you know what he said?

(They shook their heads.)

Sue: He said it was called cologne. He got it from a human. Then he asked me if I had noticed that his fur was extra shiny. He said there was something called gel in it. I think he wants to be human.

(They all laughed. Then they heard a soft voice behind them.)

Babette: Excuse me.

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Christine (embarrassed): Babette! How nice of you to stop by.

Babette: Please call me Julie. I hate that name. Anyway, I wanted to see how Sara was doing. I brought her a ball. I feel terrible about what happened last night. I told Frank those fish were an awful idea.

(Christine took the ball and smiled at Julie.)

Christine: It’s OK. Men get strange ideas sometimes.

Julie: Well, I hope his humans enjoy the fish stew I sent over. Those piranhas won’t be bothering anyone else.

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(The women laughed.)

Darlene: Isn’t Buzz going to be angry?

Julie: I don’t care anymore. I don’t even recognize the capybara I fell in love with. He was so sweet and loving. He wouldn’t hurt a flea.

Christine: So what happened?

Julie: He went to one of those seminars that teach you how to make millions as a salesman. He decided that was what he was meant to do. Unfortunately it was run by a logging company. He fell in with a bad bunch of humans, and that was it.

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Priscilla: I’m so sorry.

Julie: That’s OK. I just wish he’d never started all this. I can’t make him see that the money isn’t that important.

Priscilla: Doesn’t it bother him that he’s hurting his own kind?

Julie: He was really torn up about it at the beginning. But now he spends so much time with the humans that he doesn’t even think about it. I wish I could destroy that company and move back near my friends in Coconut Shores.

(She starts to cry. Sue tries to comfort her.)

Sue: Hmmm. I was an accountant before I had Charlie. I wonder what would happen if Buzzco had its books audited. Who’s in charge of his recordkeeping?

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Julie: I used to do it, but since he started making so much money he won’t let anyone else touch the accounts.

Sue: I thought that might be the case. Let me talk to some friends.

(Later that night, Christine and Dave were talking.)

Christine: Did you talk to the lawyer?

Dave: Yeah. There’s not really anything we can do. Apparently everything Buzzco does is legal, if unethical. And it’s not illegal to be a slimeball.

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Christine: I think Sue has an idea. She’s going to try to get his financial records audited. Julie says he won’t let anyone else look at them.

Dave: Julie? You mean Babette?

Christine: She wants to be Julie and move back home. She’s very sweet and totally fed up with Buzz. She wants Frank back.

Dave: Is she sure she wants him?

Christine: Apparently he was a nice guy before he got rich. I almost forgot – she turned his piranhas into stew and sent it to his human friends.

Dave (laughing): I guess she is all right. We can wait to see if Sue’s right.

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One day, Dave saw Buzz down by the water.

Dave: So Buzz, how’s life in the fast lane?

Buzz: Not so good.

Dave: What’s wrong?

Buzz: I’m losing my company. Buzzco’s history.

Dave (trying to hide his excitement): What happened?

Buzz: Turns out it wasn’t such a good idea to do my own accounting.  Apparently capybaras aren’t allowed to keep their money in human banks. Some stupid tax rule. The taxes I owe to the humans wiped out the company. Julie was right – I never should have trusted them.

Dave: So what are you going to do?

Buzz: We’re going back to Coconut Cove. My brother has a construction company. Guess I’m back to being Frank.

Dave: How’s Julie with all this?

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Frank: She’s thrilled. She’s been missing her old friends. She even told me what happened to the piranhas. I never really believed that someone took them because they were jealous.

The capybaras threw a wonderful going-away party. They all promised to keep in touch. And they laugh when they hear a bee buzzing.

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7

Piranhas Are Not Good Neighbors

 

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Copa Cove is an exclusive capybara community, complete with a gate and 24-hour security. Most of the residents are executives at one of the eco-tourism companies or the tourism bureau. It was incredible how many humans come in just to see the capybaras. You’d think they had never seen a very large rodent in a tie before.

One spring morning, a new family moved in. There were two adults and two children. As the neighbors looked on in horror, the newcomers unpacked a raft and beach toys. And they were plastic!

The neighborhood planned a party to welcome the new residents. Everyone gathered by the water munching on crispy greens when they arrived. The male introduced himself as Frank.

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Frank: Hello, neighbors! Name’s Frank, but you can call me Buzz.  Like in Buzzco. That’s my company. I’ll get to it in a minute. This here’s my wife. Her name’s Julie, but you can call her Babette. Get it? Buzz and Babette. Sounds good together, doesn’t it?

(His children were standing by looking mortified. The neighbors were trying not to.)

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Buzz: These are my children, Ben and Betty. Hoping to get them into the family business. No luck so far, but they’re young. Now let me tell you about Buzzco. It’s my company and my pride and joy. Has anyone heard of it?

(Blank stares)

Buzz: That’s OK. We’re small, but we’re growing every day. That’s how we can afford to live like. Remember the name: Buzzco.

Priscilla (when Buzz finally took a breath): That sounds very, uh, nice. What exactly do you do at Buzzco?

Buzz: I’m glad you asked. We’re a marketing company that specializes in land development companies. Get it? Buzzco? Like when a tree comes down?

(The group looks horrified.)

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Carl: You do understand that you’re taking land from capybaras, don’t you?

Buzz: Don’t worry, there’s plenty of land left.

Carl: But they have to leave their homes.

Buzz: We’re a hardy species.

Carl: I wouldn’t want to move because someone destroyed my home.

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Buzz: Don’t worry. Won’t happen. You don’t think I’d move somewhere they’re about to level, do you?

(Dead silence)

Darlene (trying to sound normal): Well, we should probably get to eating before the grasses wilt.

(Relieved, everyone moved to the water. The talk turned to the weather, children, and other general topics. The party soon broke up. There was work in the morning. Before they left, Buzz had one final thing to say.)

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Buzz: You were so nice to us tonight, I’d like to invite you over on Saturday for brunch. That work for everybody?

Pete (with some hesitation): Hmm. That would be fine. We’ll see you then.

(No one knew what to expect when they got to Buzz’s. They were pleasantly surprised. The home was tastefully decorated and looked completely organized. Obviously, Babette ran the house. Buzz came from the backyard.)

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Buzz: C’mon everyone. I have something to show you.

(They followed him back. He pointed to a large hole filled with water. His neighbors looked at him, puzzled.)

Buzz: It’s called a pool. I got the idea from the humans. They swim in them. I figured I’d try it.

(While he was extolling the virtues of having a pool, the children were running around. Suddenly the adults heard a splash and screaming. A small capybara had fallen into the pool. Her father Dave rushed over and pulled her out. She was bleeding in several places.)

Dave (puzzled): How did you get cut falling in the water, honey?

Daughter: There are a lot of sharp things in there.

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(Dave looked at Buzz.)

Buzz: Sorry. Haven’t had time to put up a fence yet. Didn’t think about someone falling in.

Dave: What’s in the pool?

Buzz: Piranhas. Love the little guys. They have that killer instinct. Would make good businessmen.

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Dave: You have piranhas in a pool that anyone could fall into?

Buzz: Actually, I’m surprised there was a problem. I’ve never been bitten. Of course, a child is a lot smaller. She probably frightened them. I should look into it.

Dave (between clenched teeth): And we need to look into getting rid of you.

(Buzz was too wrapped up in his fish to hear.)

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To be continued…

2

Advice for April

If you haven’t heard, there’s a live stream from New York that the humans are all watching. It’s April the giraffe who’s due to give birth any day. She lives at Animal Adventures Park in Harpursville, New York. We have no idea why humans would spend their time watching a giraffe walk round a pen, but humans are strange. We briefly spoke with April to get her thoughts.

Cheeseland: How long have the humans been watching?

April: I really don’t know. It feels like forever. They’re always around, and they never stop talking.

Cheeseland: Why do you think you’re so popular?

April: One of the vets said that the humans want to see me give birth.

Cheeseland: Seriously?

April: Can you believe it? It’s such a personal moment, and all those people want to watch.

Cheeseland: Some people put really personal stuff of their own out there for everyone to see.

April: Ewww. Humans are so weird.

 

We decided to talk to some of the cats whose videos have gone viral. We asked them to share what happened after their moment of fame. Names and faces have been altered to protect their privacy.

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Max

Famous for: Pushing a dog into a pool

Aftermath: The humans thought I was hilarious and posted it. The dog was not amused. He kept trying to get even and push me into the pool. He ended up skidding into the pool several times. That was hilarious. I wish the humans had been around. Now he just sits in a chair by the pool.

Advice: People will leave you alone after a while. Just don’t let them put a panda-cam on the baby.

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Sheba

Famous for: Jumping out from behind a sofa and scaring a child

Aftermath: The big humans laughed but the little human wouldn’t stop crying. Human Mom had to pick her up and told her I was a bad kitty. The little beast called me “bad kitty” for days. She’s lucky I’m not really a bad kitty.

Advice: Don’t trust what the humans say while the camera is on. And never agree to a panda-cam for the baby. The poor thing will have no privacy.

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Alex

Famous for: Getting stuck in the cat door

Aftermath: The humans said I was fat. They made me eat disgusting food that gave me gas and wouldn’t let me have treats. I was hungry all the time and was really grumpy. They finally gave up and let me have my food back. They also discovered they had installed the cat door wrong.

Advice: Break the camera. They’re going the save the most embarrassing parts because they think you’re “cute”. And no panda-cam!

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Amelia

Famous for: fishing an ice cube out of a glass of water

Aftermath: They acted so impressed while the camera was on. I don’t know why. Ice cubes are not good prizes. I got my paw wet for something that I couldn’t eat, and they wouldn’t let me play with it. Not only that, they won’t let me around their water anymore.

Advice: Don’t trust humans. Particularly if they want to put your baby on a panda-cam.

 

We hope the advice helps April. We couldn’t understand why pandas with cameras were such a problem. We never see pandas around here, with or without cameras.

So we looked up Panda Cam on Google, and found this (and several others):

https://nationalzoo.si.edu/webcams/panda-cam

with a clip from YouTube:

 

They’re right April. Beware the panda-cam!

 

 

6

Are Aardvarks Anteaters?

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Greetings from Les Sloth. You may have heard that Cat wants each of us to write about an animal that may be less well-known to our readers. To be perfectly honest, it seems kind of silly. How do we know what you know?

Anyway, I decided to look through an animal directory to find something with an interesting name. The first thing I came across was the aardvark. I didn’t know anything about aardvarks, so I decided to interview one. If the readership is full of aardvark specialists, I apologize for not choosing a more unique creature.

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The first thing I discovered is that they are nocturnal, which is bad. The second thing I learned is that they live in sub-Saharan Africa, which is good. Day in Costa Rica (where I live) is night in Africa. So we would both be awake, which is good.

I spoke with a very pleasant aardvark named Mel. Actually, I can’t pronounce his real name, so he said to call him Mel. The conversation started a little strangely.

Mel: Greetings from Malawi. It is very nice to speak with you.

Les: Thank you for taking the time.

Mel: I only have one ground rule. Do not ask me about Arthur or any of the other aardvark cartoons the humans have on your side of the world.

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(I had no idea what he was talking about, so I agreed not to talk about them.)

Les: Can you tell me a little about yourself?

Mel: I am built sturdily. About 150 pounds, 7 feet long (including tail). I am pale gray with extremely tough skin and sparse fur. My back legs are longer than my front legs.

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Les: Wow. That’s about twice my size.

Mel: Yes, but we don’t have your extremely nice-looking fur coats.

Les: That’s very kind of you to say. Do you have a family?

Mel: We are expecting our first child in late spring. It will be an exciting time for us. Of course, it will share its mother’s burrow for the first year.

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Les: Congratulations! What types of things do you like to eat?

Mel: We mainly eat ants and termites. There is also an aardvark cucumber that is very tasty. I’m told that there is something called an avocado that is popular in the States.

Les: So you’re an anteater? We have anteaters over here. In fact, they are close relatives of sloths. Maybe we’re cousins or something.

Mel: Actually I am an ant eater. I eat ants.

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Les: Anteaters eat ants. And termites. And they look a bit like an aardvark.

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Mel: That is all true. But it is a coincidence. We are the last surviving branch of a prehistoric African family tree.

Les: So you are an ant (pause) eater, not an anteater.

Mel: Exactly!

Les (disappointed): So I guess we’re not related.

Mel: That’s true. But I would like very much to keep in touch as friends. You seem very nice.

Les: Thank you! I’ve enjoyed talking with you as well. Take care of yourself. Don’t get eaten.

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Mel: I wish you survival as well. Farewell for now.

Mel had been so nice that I am sorry we are not related. I did get his address. As soon as I’m done here, I’m going to get online with Amazon and send him some ants. I should have asked if he has a favorite type.

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(all pictures courtesy of Google Images)

10

Unicorns: The Really True Story

 

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With all due respect to the Irish Rovers, they got the story wrong:

 

Here’s what really happened:

A long, long time ago, in the misty Scottish highlands, the head unicorn held a meeting with the entire herd. He reminded everyone of the importance of staying hidden. Humans could see them at the end of a storm if a rainbow appeared.

“Remember that most humans are harmless, particularly the little ones. But there are some who want to profit from us. They know that our horns can purify water and even heal the innocent. They will try to capture us and tie us up. A unicorn that is not free to roam will die.”

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The unicorns all nodded that they understood. Most of them had never seen a human but knew they walked on two feet and didn’t have beautiful fur or feathers.

Not long afterwards, a storm came up in the middle of the day. Some children had been playing in a field and ran for home. One little girl slipped on the wet grass and hit her head on a stone. She was bleeding and didn’t move. The other children ran for her mother.

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Unicorns love rain and were playing in the woods near the field. They heard the screaming and watched the children run away. Two of the young unicorns walked up to the girl and stared at her; they had never been close to a human before. One gently nudged her with a hoof. She moaned but didn’t move. The other unicorn ran in terror.

The unicorn touched her head with his horn. She woke up and recognized that he was a unicorn. She reached out to pet him. Suddenly he looked up. The rain had ended and there was a rainbow. He raced away.

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He didn’t stop until he found the head unicorn. He related that he had touched a small human before he realized the rain had stopped. He admitted that she had seen him.

The head unicorn called a council with the elders. They all agreed that the herd was in grave danger. They knew what had happened to the leprechauns. The humans wouldn’t stop hunting until they found the unicorns. The herd disappeared deep into the highlands; to where the humans couldn’t go.

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In the meantime, the children had brought the girl’s mother to her. The girl was sitting up and was very excited. She started talking about the unicorn. How beautiful it was and how she had almost touched it. She was sure she had been cured by the unicorn’s horn.

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Her mother told her to calm down. She examined the bump on the girl’s head and the dried blood. Remembering that the girl had been unconscious, she asked the other children if they had seen the unicorn. One said that maybe he had gotten there after they left.

Being a practical sort, the mother didn’t believe in unicorns. With no proof, she concluded that it had been a dream. The children believed, but there was never another unicorn sighting.

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A faerie told the unicorns the good news, but they liked their new home and never returned.

So if you’re ever deep in the Scottish highlands at the end of a storm and think you see the flash of a white horn . . .

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