A Farmer, a Daughter—And an Unknown Number of Apples

The Puzzler

RAY: As luck would have it, this puzzler was sent in by two different people, a week apart. A fellow named Ronald Byas and another fellow named Milton Mercinger both sent in basically the same puzzle. I kind of mixed them together.

TOM: Did you obfuscate?

RAY: Of course! Here it is:

A young man wants to ask a farmer for his daughter's hand in marriage. In fact, he wants more than the hand, he wants the whole girl. And the farmer says, "If you do this right, I'll give you her, a few cows, and I'll throw in a tractor!"

TOM: And my wife, too!

RAY: "But in order to have her hand in marriage, I want you to walk out to the apple orchard and pick some apples. On your way back to the farmhouse, you're going to pass three fence posts. At the first one, you're going to leave half the apples you have, and half an apple more. When you get to the second fencepost, you're going to do the same thing: leave half the apples that you have remaining, and half an apple more. You'll do the same thing at the third fencepost.

"You can't cut, bite, fold, spindle, mutilate, or do anything to any of the apples. But, you must, when you're all done, have one apple remaining for my daughter. If you can do that, you can marry her, or you can have the tractor, whichever you want."

The question is, how many apples does the young man need to pick from the orchard so that when he starts out he has x number of apples, and when he's all done leaving half the apples plus half an apple at each of the three fence posts, he has one left?

Think you know? Drop Ray a note!

[ Car Talk Puzzler ]

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