The Magic Beard by Andrew James Hodgson

Old Mr Beard could not have had a better name! He was very old and had the longest silver beard in the world. He had to wrap it around his waist to stop it trailing on the ground. What’s more Old Mr Beard’s beard was magic! 

Old Mr Beard lived in a cosy house in Burngreave, next door to Shaheen (aged 8) and Zahir (aged 6). One day Old Mr Beard was tidying up his front garden when he saw the coming home from school. Usually they were happy but that day, Zahir was crying. Old Mr Beard was concerned to see them so upset. He asked them he could help. Zahir was too upset to say anything at first, but Shaheen explained that school bullies had taken Zahir’s pocket money and dropped it down a metal grate outside school.

Old Mr Beard knew just what to do. “Come on!” he said to the children, “Show me where that metal grate is and I’ll get your money back for you.” They rushed back to school and found the grate. It was a deep grate full of dirty water so the children couldn’t see Zahir’s lost pound or how Old Mr Beard would be able to reach it, even if he could see it.

“Don’t you worry!” said Old Mr Beard with a smile and a friendly wink, “Just watch this!” Shaheen and Zahir watched with astonishment as he slowly and carefully pulled out a number of silver hairs from his great long beard and began to twist them together in his old wrinkled hands.

“What are you doing Mr Beard?” asked Zahir who had completely stopped crying. “Just making something useful” he replied. Old Mr Beard slowly but surely lowered the twisted silver hairs from his beard through the grate…”You’ve made hairy string!” shouted Shaheen “But how can it pick up Zahir’s pound coin?” “Just you watch” said Old Mr Beard. After a few waggles of the hairy silver, he confidently pulled the string back up.

Shaheen and Zahir could not believe their eyes! Somehow the end of Old Mr Beard’s hairy piece of silver string was tied, into a perfectly neat (though rather smelly!) knot and bow around not just one but four pound coins. The children clapped their hands with joyful amazement.

Old Mr Beard walked home with the children and washed the four dirty pound coins in hot, soapy water. He gave two pounds to Zahir and two to Shaheen. The children thanked Old Mr Beard and knew that his long silver beard – the longest in the world in fact – just had to be magic!