As twilight fell on Midsummer's Day, the animals put on their best outfits and scurried to the Night Meadow for the Firefly Ball. That is where they stay up late and watch the fireflies come out, appreciating the shortest night of the year.
Then Max Raccoon, who was tucking into a huge plate of potato salad, noticed something weird at the meadow's edge. All the animals did. Max felt the fur on his neck stand up, and he forgot all about his potato salad. Some animals later said they smelled wet moss, and some said they spied a lovely glow, deep in the forest. Some noticed a rustling in the undergrowth, as soft as a firefly's twinkle.
They all peered into the forest, wondering. Then they saw: it was a unicorn! She stepped out from a grove of hazel and elderberry, just as lovely as you please and wearing a golden crown. She said, "Greetings, animals! I am Peaseblossom. I am most delighted to make your acquaintance."
The animals had never seen a unicorn before. They said things like, "Well bowl me over with a feather," and, "Shucks!" Gwendolyn Raccoon dropped her cherry pie right on the ground. Then they all remembered their manners, and said, "Welcome, Peaseblossom!" The rabbit twins did their best curtseys, and indeed this was the best opportunity for curtseying they had ever known.
Gwendolyn said, "Excuse me, Peaseblossom, where have you been all my life?!" Peaseblossom told her: Princess School. Now she had set out to see the world. She showed the other animals her golden crown and her Princess School diploma, and all the lovely items of princess garb and the magical cookbook she had in her trunk. She said they could borrow whatever they wanted, and that she would cook them magical treats.
The animals decided to welcome their magical new friend with a Grand Banquet, but said that they would need a few days to get ready. Meanwhile, Peaseblossom stayed for the end of the Firefly Ball, and slept that night in the Lodge on a cot her new friends made up for her.