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The Riddle Of St Edmondsbury


"It used to be told at St. Edmondsbury," said Father Peter on one occasion, "that many years ago they were so overrun with mice that the good abbot gave orders that all the cats from the country round should be obtained to exterminate the vermin. A record was kept, and at the end of the year it was found that every cat had killed an equal number of mice, and the total was exactly 1,111,111 mice. How many cats do you suppose there were?"

"Methinks one cat killed the lot," said Brother Benjamin.

"Out upon thee, brother! I said 'cats.'"

"Well, then," persisted Benjamin, "perchance 1,111,111 cats each killed one mouse."

"No," replied Father Peter, after the monks' jovial laughter had ended, "I said 'mice;' and all I need add is this—that each cat killed more mice than there were cats. They told me it was merely a question of the division of numbers, but I know not the answer to the riddle."

The correct answer is recorded, but it is not shown how they arrived at it.

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