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The Beard-Growing Contest

© MCMXCVI T.P. Butler

The town of San Francisco was holding its annual Beard Growing Contest, as it was now the last week in July. The residents of San Francisco eagerly anticipated this event, as it was the only culture (besides the symphony, the theatre district and the fine arts museum) in their wretched little town.

The favorite contestant by far was a lanky old gentleman named Ligature Mammal. He had won every Beard Growing Contest in San Francisco since they had been held. There were a few aspiring underdogs, but no one cared about them.

On the day of the event, each contestant removed the brown paper sack from his or her head, showing the crowd what each of them had grown, As the bearded chins became visible, the sun's rays danced cheerfully upon each coarse and twisted hair, while the judges salivated in anticipation, softly caressing their calipers and waiting anxiously to palpate each and every beard.

When the judging was complete, it was announced, to the surprise of none but to the joy of all, that Ligature Mammal was indeed the winner. But as the town square rang out with applause, a tiny, dark stranger appeared on the outskirts of the crowd and demanded that the prize not be awarded until HIS beard was examined.

And the judges had to admit, it was a marvellous beard. Reluctantly, the prize was handed over to the stranger-- two jars of Aunty Martha's orange marmalade. Ligature Mammal was furious and insulted the strange dwarf, but the little man just laughed and laughed.

That night, Ligature woke up from his ususal deep sleep. Startled, he felt his beard--had it been cut? No, but it WAS full of something sticky. Ligature started to cry and cry, and a faint peal of laughter was heard outside, as was the sound of two empty jars of marmalade.

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