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This puzzle is part of the ‘Twelve Labours’ series, but can be solved independently. Previous instalments can be found here: Prologue | 01 | 02 | 03 | 04


After being snookered by Pholus’ puzzle for longer than he had hoped, Hercules finally reached the bistro owned by his uncle – Eugene’s Tables – with just five minutes to spare before it opened for lunch.

“Where have you been?” cried Eugene. “I need you to help tidy this place up before the customers begin arriving!”

Hercules looked around. The restaurant was most definitely a MESS. The counter was filthy, none of the tables were set, and in one corner of the room a whole miscellany of objects were piled up against the wall.

“Why do you have this stuff just lying around?!” Hercules asked, incredulous. “Some of these look like they REALLY shouldn’t be in a restaurant, and oh I’ve just realised that this is going to be another puzzle, isn’t it...?”

Eugene clapped his hands together. “Yes it is! Thirty-two objects – remove all but two of them and you’ll be able to work out what item I promised to buy your mother for her office.”

“Right,” said Hercules, “so how do I work out which ones to take away?”

“Well,” replied his uncle, “let’s just say you’ve got two hands and very little time before we open, so you should remove items two at a time, as a pair.”

Hercules nodded and snatched up the trombone and a spear. Eugene shook his head. “That’s not a valid pair.”

“Oh, so there’s a rule to follow?”

“Indeed,” said Eugene, “and you’ve got four minutes to work it out...”

TASK: Work out how Hercules can remove thirty of the items two at a time. Pair the remaining two to deduce the item Eugene has promised to Hercules’ mother.

enter image description here

All images courtesy of free-to-use clip-art repositories.

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Edited - thanks to JS1 for ironing out the final answer

I think the answer is:

A Money Plant (AKA Jade Plant)

My Reasoning:

A valid pair is where the name of one object contains the name of the other. The valid pairs are:

crossbow + cross
spear + pear
dogbowl + owl
pencil + pen
pineapple + apple
champagne + ham
scarf + car
balloon + ball
syringe + ring
slinky + ink
monkey + key
propeller + rope
trombone + bone
bust + bus
surfboard + boa (I had to google to figure out what that crazy red scarf was called)

This leaves the money bag and the pot plant. I originally thought that Eugene planed to use the money to purchase the plant, which is a fitting gift for an office.

But with JS1s handy dandy link, when we combine those two objects we either get Pot Bag, which admittedly might make a fine gift but not very fitting for an office, or a Money Plant which apparently is a thing. Just a thing I wasn't aware of.

Fun puzzle :)

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    $\begingroup$ I'm wondering if the last two might refer to this thing. It's a popular gift. $\endgroup$ – JS1 Oct 28 at 22:38
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks @JS1 - I think you are probably right. $\endgroup$ – Johnson Oct 28 at 22:40
  • $\begingroup$ Great job - and quickly solved, well done :) JS1's insight was correct, and you've cracked it all. The checkmark is yours! (And +1...) $\endgroup$ – Stiv Oct 29 at 6:48
  • $\begingroup$ "pen, pineapple, apple"... I see what you did there. $\endgroup$ – Darrel Hoffman Oct 29 at 13:29

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