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The following poem appeared in the book Imaginary Numbers. It tells how an innkeeper manages to fit 10 guests into 9 rooms, thereby violating what mathematicians call the "pigeon-hole principle."
Ten weary, footsore travelers,
All in a woeful plight,
Sought shelter at a wayside inn
One dark and stormy night.

"Nine rooms, no more," the landlord said,
"Have I to offer you.
To each of eight a single bed,
But the ninth must serve for two."

A din arose. The troubled host
Could only scratch his head,
For of those tired men no two
Would occupy one bed.

The puzzled host was soon at ease –
He was a clever man –
And so to please his guests devised
This most ingenious plan.

In room marked A two men were placed,
The third was lodged in B,
The fourth to C was then assigned,
The fifth retired to D.

In E the sixth he tucked away,
In F the seventh man,
The eighth and ninth in G and H,
And then to A he ran,

Wherein the host, as I have said,
Had laid two travelers by;
Then taking one – the tenth and last –
He lodged him safe in I.

Nine single rooms – a room for each –
Were made to serve for ten;
And this it is that puzzles me
And many wiser men.

Today's challenge: What's the innkeeper's trick?

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(The poem Ten Weary Footsore Travelers appears in the book Imaginary Numbers, edited by William Frucht, and is copyrighted © 1999 by William Frucht. Used by permission of John Wiley & Sons. You may like to view the Amazon.com listing.)

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