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The Silver Cubes
(Adventures of the Puzzle Club
The last extract that I will give is one that will, I think, interest those readers who may find some of the above puzzles too easy. It is a hard nut, and should only be attempted by those who flatter themselves that they possess strong intellectual teeth.
"Master Herbert Spearing, the son of a widow lady in our parish, proposed a puzzle in arithmetic that looks simple, but nobody present was able to solve it. Of a truth I did not venture to attempt it myself, after the young lawyer from Oxford, who they say is very learned in the mathematics and a great scholar, failed to show us the answer. He did assure us that he believed it could not be done, but I have since been told that it is possible, though, of a certainty, I may not vouch for it. Master Herbert brought with him two cubes of solid silver that belonged to his mother. He showed that, as they measured two inches every way, each contained eight cubic inches of silver, and therefore the two contained together sixteen cubic inches. That which he wanted to know was—'Could anybody give him exact dimensions for two cubes that should together contain just seventeen cubic inches of silver?'" Of course the cubes may be of different sizes.
The idea of a Christmas Puzzle Party, as devised by the old Squire, seems to have been excellent, and it might well be revived at the present day by people who are fond of puzzles and who have grown tired of Book Teas and similar recent introductions for the amusement of evening parties. Prizes could be awarded to the best solvers of the puzzles propounded by the guests.