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IT is related, on the authority of Ovid and Diodorus, that Hercules once attacked a monstrous snake called Hydra, which had nine heads, and if any of them was cut off, two others would spring up to take its place. The only way to stop these heads from growing was by burning them off. I don't believe this story, but merely quote it here because it is an exact parallel to the story of my mustache.

I was a sort of infant prodigy in the mustache business, and remember very well how my mother once sent me, when a little boy, from the dining-room back to my bedroom, to wash my upper lip. She is near-sighted, but discovered her mistake afterwards. I began soon after that to take a regular shave, at first once a month, then gradually the interval was diminished to a fortnight, a week, and finally half a week. The more I cut off the down the faster and thicker it grew; and as I am averse to all duties that have to be performed regularly, I soon conceived a great prejudice against my mustache, and read all the medical books I could get hold of, to see if there was no antidote against it. I did not want to let it grow, because its color is a sort of magenta, and I had not then made up my mind to go to Harvard.

One day my Latin lesson included the story of the Lernean Hydra. From that moment my mind was made up. I rushed to my room, seized a match, and with true Herculean courage burned off my parasite completely. But alas! I soon found out that the real essence of a mustache and a hydra differs; for the former, to my chagrin, kept on growing as usual, and its color seemed to have gained in brilliancy from the fire-baptism.

I next tried to pull out the individual hairs, but there were so many of them, and it hurt so infernally, that I had to give up that plan too. Nothing was left but to shave regularly or to let it grow. I chose the latter alternative. But, as every one knows, the most critical and unsatisfactory period in the growth of a mustache is from the time when it first makes its appearance till it has reached about an inch in length. At the end of the third week mine had reached more than half an inch, and I began to feel somewhat relieved, when suddenly I received an invitation to a grand evening party. Of course I could n't go with a half-grown mustache, so it had to come off.

I started it again after that. This time it had fully reached an inch in length when I received a postal that our society-photograph was to be taken, so it had to come off again. Once more I had to go through the painful transition-period, and a third engagement compelled me to shave it off again. I am now getting desperate. Shall not try it again, but I have sent for some extra-adhesive court-plaster, flesh color, which I am going to paste on my upper lip. Perhaps that will keep the mustache from growing. If it does not, my last hope is blasted, and all that remains is suicide.

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