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The Riddle Of The Crusaders


On another occasion a certain knight, Sir Ralph de Bohun, was a guest of the monks at Riddlewell Abbey. Towards the close of a sumptuous repast he spoke as follows:—

"My Lord Abbot, knowing full well that riddles are greatly to thy liking, I will, by your leave, put forth one that was told unto me in foreign lands. A body of Crusaders went forth to fight the good cause, and such was their number that they were able to form themselves into a square. But on the way a stranger took up arms and joined them, and they were then able to form exactly thirteen smaller squares. Pray tell me, merry monks, how many men went forth to battle?"

Abbot David pushed aside his plate of warden pie, and made a few hasty calculations.

"Sir Knight," said he at length, "the riddle is easy to rede. In the first place there were 324 men, who would make a square 18 by 18, and afterwards 325 men would make 13 squares of 25 Crusaders each. But which of you can tell me how many men there would have been if, instead of 13, they had been able to form 113 squares under exactly the like conditions?"

The monks gave up this riddle, but the Abbot showed them the answer next morning.

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