John Rolph dreamed that there were people living in his beard. They were tiny pioneers, so small that he didn’t even notice them at first. By the time he did, there was a whole little village of them. He could just make out the church steeple, no bigger than a needle, sticking up from between his grey hairs. When it was quiet, he could hear the soft hum of the market square. And on some evenings, wisps of chimney smoke drifted up toward his nose, whispering aromas of boiled potatoes and venison stew.He grew fond of his little villagers; proud of them even. So it was bittersweet when one night a tiny mayor climbed down out of the beard, struck out across an expanse of pillow and arrived, safe but exhausted, at John Rolph’s right ear.
“Sir,” the little mayor said as he caught his breath, his voice the faintest murmur, “We demand to be free.”
It took only a moment. John Rolph’s scissors sliced clean through his beard. Then he carried it carefully outside, down to the lake, and set it gently upon the grass. As the bells of St. James Cathedral rang out twelve times, miniature fireworks flashed scarlet, blue and gold, puffs of magic dust sparkling in the midnight air.
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