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The Franklin's Puzzle


"A Franklin was in this company; White was his beard as is the daisy." We are told by Chaucer that he was a great householder and an epicure. "Without baked meat never was his house. Of fish and flesh, and that so plenteous, It snowed in his house of meat and drink, Of every dainty that men could bethink." He was a hospitable and generous man. "His table dormant in his hall alway Stood ready covered all throughout the day." At the repasts of the Pilgrims he usually presided at one of the tables, as we found him doing on the occasion when the cook propounded his problem of the two pies.

One day, at an inn just outside Canterbury, the company called on him to produce the puzzle required of him; whereupon he placed on the table sixteen bottles numbered 1, 2, 3, up to 15, with the last one marked 0. "Now, my masters," quoth he, "it will be fresh in your memories how that the good Clerk of Oxenford did show us a riddle touching what hath been called the magic square. Of a truth will I set before ye another that may seem to be somewhat of a like kind, albeit there be little in common betwixt them. Here be set out sixteen bottles in form of a square, and I pray you so place them afresh that they shall form a magic square, adding up to thirty in all the ten straight ways. But mark well that ye may not remove more than ten of the bottles from their present places, for therein layeth the subtlety of the riddle." This is a little puzzle that may be conveniently tried with sixteen numbered counters.

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