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Under The Mistletoe Bough


"At the party was a widower who has but lately come into these parts," says the record; "and, to be sure, he was an exceedingly melancholy man, for he did sit away from the company during the most part of the evening. We afterwards heard that he had been keeping a secret account of all the kisses that were given and received under the mistletoe bough. Truly, I would not have suffered any one to kiss me in that manner had I known that so unfair a watch was being kept. Other maids beside were in a like way shocked, as Betty Marchant has since told me." But it seems that the melancholy widower was merely collecting material for the following little osculatory problem.

The company consisted of the Squire and his wife and six other married couples, one widower and three widows, twelve bachelors and boys, and ten maidens and little girls. Now, everybody was found to have kissed everybody else, with the following exceptions and additions: No male, of course, kissed a male. No married man kissed a married woman, except his own wife. All the bachelors and boys kissed all the maidens and girls twice. The widower did not kiss anybody, and the widows did not kiss each other. The puzzle was to ascertain just how many kisses had been thus given under the mistletoe bough, assuming, as it is charitable to do, that every kiss was returned—the double act being counted as one kiss.

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