A shaft of bright golden sunbeams broke through the leafy canopy of the forest, illuminating a clearing deep within its verdant, secluded heart - and also illuminating a wondrous creature, standing sedately like a living statue hewn from shimmering starlight.
It resembled an elegant snowy-hued horse, but its noble brow bore a single, central horn - long and finely spiralled, upon which the sunbeams joyfully danced.
Here was the forest guardian, the very spirit of nature incarnate - for this was that most rare and fabulous of animals, the unicorn.
Suddenly, however, the distant sound of a hunting horn pierced the stillness of this magical scene.
Instantly alert, the unicorn raised its head, momentarily betraying flickers of alarm, and of sadness too, within its shining eyes.
Then, as softly as the echo of a single heartbeat, it was gone, lost to human sight and knowledge within its woodland sanctuary.