Listen carefully, for I know a tale. I heard it from a traveller when I was still a child. Her face was shadowed by a plain brown hood and her cloak rubbed well-worn shoes. Gazing from wonderful, eerie eyes, there strode a dog by her side. They appeared one morning in our village street and, with that instant attraction of something new, like bees drawn to honey, we children ran to their sides as the huge beast let us pat his grey nose.
‘Who are you? Who are you?’ we boldly called. Then, without hesitation, we took her hands and tugged impatiently at her robe.
‘I’m a traveller,’ she announced, in such a way that we knew we couldn’t let her go. The dog looked up at her as if understanding every word. Smiling at him she murmured, ‘And this is my old friend.’
‘Where are you from?’ we called. ‘Where are you going?’
She paused and peered thoughtfully at us, then sat on a seat in our village square. ‘Would you like to hear a story?’ she whispered.
We cheered as children do, then we jostled and gathered at her feet and waited breathlessly for her tale to unfold.
She arranged her cloak for a moment with hands that had seen better days, but she didn’t seem old to us, for her voice was young and it smiled.
At first our parents watched her with suspicion in their eyes, but soon they stirred and continued with the business of their day.
This is the story that we heard.
‘I’m going to tell you about a unicorn,’ she stated.
We knew then that it was a story of make-believe, for unicorns aren’t truly real, but her voice told us otherwise, and ever since, although I’ve told no one, my heart has believed every word.
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