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Mummes!

Recorde's text was in form of a dialogue between Master and student. The student thinks the study of number us useless and vain, that people can get along just as well without it and that bhence it is a waste of time....

Master: If numbers were so vile a thing as you did esteem it, then need it not be used so much in men's communication. exclude number, and answer to this question, "How many years old are you?"

"Mum," the student replies.

"How many days in a week? "How many weeks in a year?" "What land has your father?" "How many men doth he keep?" How long is it since you came from him to me?"

"Mum," answers the student.

"So that if numbers want, you answer all by mummes."

Solution:

Source: Robert Recorde's Arithmetic, 1542