The Unicorn in the Garden

James Thurber (1894 -1961) was a skilful American short story writer. He was born in Ohio
and worked as a journalist for “The New Yorker”. He mainly wrote fables, short stories, and essays,
but he drew also sketches and illustrations, where his delicately grotesque sense of humour comes
out. Many are the collections of his works; the most important are: “The Seal in the Bedroom”
(1932), “Thurber’s men, women and dogs” (1932), “The Thurber Carnival” (1945), from which the
story about the Unicorn is taken. His special kind of humour, meaningful and nonsensical at the
same time, was highly popular with his readers, who were children as well as adults.
The Unicorn in the Garden
1. Once upon a sunny morning a man who sat at his breakfast looked up from his scrambled eggs
2. to see a white unicorn with a golden horn quietly cropping the roses in the garden. The man went
3. up to the bedroom where his wife was still asleep and woke her. "There's a unicorn in the gar4. den," he said. "Eating roses." She opened one unfriendly eye and looked at him. "The unicorn is
5. a mythical beast," she said, and turned her back on him. The man walked slowly downstairs and
6. out into the garden. The unicorn was still there; he was now browsing among the tulips.
7. "Here, unicorn," said the man and pulled up a lily and gave it to him. The unicorn ate it grave8. ly. With a high heart, because there was a unicorn in his garden, the man went upstairs and
9. roused his wife again. "The unicorn," he said, "ate a lily." His wife sat up in bed and looked at
10. him, coldly. "You are a booby," she said, "and I am going to have you put in a booby-hatch."
11. The man, who never liked the words "booby" and "booby-hatch," and who liked them even less
12. on a shining morning when there was a unicorn in the garden, thought for a moment. "We'll
13. see about that," he said. He walked over to the door. "He has a golden horn in the middle of
14. his forehead," he told her. Then he went back to the garden to watch the unicorn; but the uni15. corn had gone away. The man sat among the roses and went to sleep.
16. And as soon as the husband had gone out of the house, the wife got up and dressed as fast as
17. she could. She was very excited and there was a gloat in her eye. She telephoned the police and
18. she telephoned the psychiatrist; she told them to hurry to her house and bring a strait-jacket.
19. When the police and the psychiatrist arrived, they sat down in chairs and looked at her with
20. great interest. "My husband," she said, "saw a unicorn this morning." The police looked at
21. the psychiatrist and the psychiatrist looked at the police. “He told me it ate a lily”, she said.
22. The psychiatrist looked at the police and the police looked at the psychiatrist. "He told me it had
23. a golden horn in the middle of its forehead," she said. At a solemn signal from the psychiatrist,
24. the police leaped from their chairs and seized the wife. They had a hard time subduing her, for
25. she put up a terrific struggle, but they finally subdued her. Just as they got her into the strait26. jacket, the husband came back into the house.
27. "Did you tell your wife you saw a unicorn?" asked the police. "Of course not," said the hus28. band. "The unicorn is a mythical beast." "That's all I wanted to know," said the psychiatrist.
29. "Take her away. I'm sorry, sir, but your wife is as crazy as a jay bird." So they took her
30. away, cursing and screaming, and shut her up in an institution. The husband lived happily
31. ever after.
32. Moral: Don't count your boobies until they are hatched.