A cotton-merchant --- some bales stolen --- feast --- “cotton is still sticking to the beards of the thieves” --- thieves caught.
Once upon a time some thieves stole away many bales of cotton from the godown of a certain merchant. The police failed to trace out the thieves.
He thought of a clever plan to catch them. He gave a grand tea-party to his friends and those whom he suspected to be the thieves. While everybody was busy eating fruit and sweets, eh cried out: “Look here, my friends, cotton is still sticking to the beards of the thieves!” The guilty men at once tried to clear their beards of any trace of the theft. And the moment they did so, they were caught and handed over to the police.