409. Borrowing Across a Zero, Part Two

If you haven’t read my last article, I recommend that you do, because if you don’t, this one could be quite confusing. I’ll set the stage a little, but really, you should read Part One.
Adeen and Uno, the two ones from the ones place, have checked the tens place to try to borrow a ten, but no one was home, so they have gone to the hundreds place, where Adeen, the bolder of the two, has knocked on the door. As we resume our story, they are nervously waiting for one of the three resident hundreds to open the door.
And one of the hundreds, whose name was Centum, did open the door. Centum was huge. Huger than any number they’d ever seen. It looked around, but never having seen ones before, at first it didn’t think to look down. When it finally did look down, it did a mild double-take, then asked, “Whaddya want?”
Uno hid behind Adeen while Adeen said, “We were wondering if we could borrow ten.”
Centum smiled a little (the ones were cute), but the smile did not get the ones to relax at all. When something that big smiles, you’re not sure why. “You want the tens place,” said Centum. “That’s next door.” Centum expected the ones to scurry off immediately to the tens place. But they didn’t.
“We tried the tens place,” said Adeen. There’s nobody there.
“They’ve probably gone fishing,” suggested Centum.
“See? I TOLD you!” mumbled Uno into Adeen’s ear, not loud enough for Centum to hear.
But Adeen was not shaken by the suggestion, nor by Uno’s murmuring. “We need to do the subtraction now,” explained Adeen. “Doesn’t every hundred have ten tens?”
Centum scratched it’s head. “Well, yeah. But you said you only needed one ten. What are you gonna do with the other nine?”
The average one might have been baffled by that question – might have given up, gone home, and maybe had some hot chocolate or something. But not Adeen. “We’ll drop them off at the tens place,” Adeen retorted, smartly.
Centum couldn’t argue. I knew enough about math to know a good idea when it heard one. It didn’t volunteer to go, though. Hecta, a hundred who was upstairs reading, ended up volunteering to be the one to go. And now, instead of containing three hundreds, the hundreds place only had two. That’s all right, though, because there would be more math problems later.
Adeen and Uno dragged Hecta to the tens place, where they unloaded nine of Hecta’s tens, and then returned to the ones place, where, with the one ten Hecta had left, they turned from two to twelve. As twelve, they had no trouble subtracting the eight ones who were in the basement. It was a piece of cake. As a matter of fact, when they were done, the four
remaining ones (after all, twelve minus eight IS four) each had a piece of cake. And then they finished the math problem and went on to the next one.

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