Riddle #728


As I was going to St. Ives I met a man with seven wives The seven wives had seven sacks The seven sacks had seven cats The seven cats had seven kits Kits, cats, sacks and wives How many were going to St. Ives?
One person is going to St. Ives (the narrator). Because the narrator "met" all of the others mentioned in the poem, this implies that they walked past each other in opposite directions, and thus none of the wives, sacks, cats, or kits was actually headed to St. Ives. If you (like many) think this answer is a bit silly, you can assume that all the people, sacks, and animals mentioned were heading for St. Ives. In this case, we would have 1 narrator + 1 man + 7 wives + 49 sacks + 343 cats + 2401 kits = 2802 total going to St. Ives. However, this isn't the traditional answer.
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This riddle is just an example of misdirection. It is actually nonsensical to add $27 + $2, because the $27 that has been paid includes the $2 the bellhop made. The correct math is to say that the guests paid $27, and the bellhop took $2, which, if given back to the guests, would bring them to their correct payment of $27 - $2 = $25.
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