The Chinese are a curious people, and have strange inverted ways of
doing things. It is said that they use a saw with an upward pressure
instead of a downward one, that they plane a deal board by pulling the
tool toward them instead of pushing it, and that in building a house
they first construct the roof and, having raised that into position,
proceed to work downwards. In money the currency of the country consists
of taels of fluctuating value. The tael became thinner and thinner until
2,000 of them piled together made less than three inches in height. The
common cash consists of brass coins of varying thicknesses, with a
round, square, or triangular hole in the centre, as in our illustration.
These are strung on wires like buttons. Supposing that eleven coins with
round holes are worth fifteen ching-changs, that eleven with square
holes are worth sixteen ching-changs, and that eleven with triangular
holes are worth seventeen ching-changs, how can a Chinaman give me
change for half a crown, using no coins other than the three mentioned?
A ching-chang is worth exactly twopence and four-fifteenths of a
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