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The Eccentric Market-woman


Mrs. Covey, who keeps a little poultry farm in Surrey, is one of the most eccentric women I ever met. Her manner of doing business is always original, and sometimes quite weird and wonderful. She was once found explaining to a few of her choice friends how she had disposed of her day's eggs. She had evidently got the idea from an old puzzle with which we are all familiar; but as it is an improvement on it, I have no hesitation in presenting it to my readers. She related that she had that day taken a certain number of eggs to market. She sold half of them to one customer, and gave him half an egg over. She next sold a third of what she had left, and gave a third of an egg over. She then sold a fourth of the remainder, and gave a fourth of an egg over. Finally, she disposed of a fifth of the remainder, and gave a fifth of an egg over. Then what she had left she divided equally among thirteen of her friends. And, strange to say, she had not throughout all these transactions broken a single egg. Now, the puzzle is to find the smallest possible number of eggs that Mrs. Covey could have taken to market. Can you say how many?

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