“The Red Headed League” from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
One day Sherlock is approached by a man with red hair who has a very unusual problem. A Mr. Jabez Wilson is the owner of a pawn shop. It used to be prospering but since then has fallen on hard times. He now only has one assistant, a bright young man named Vincent Spaulding, who is willing to work for the low wage even though he deserves much more. Spaulding loves photography and has his own developing room in the cellar.
Two months earlier, on April 27th, his assistant bemoans his lack of red hair and shows Wilson an advertisement he found in the newspaper.
TO THE RED HEADED LEAGUE:
On account of the bequest of the late Ezekiah Hopkins, of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., there is another vacancy open which entitles a member of the League to a salary of £4 a week for purely nominal services. All red-headed men who are sound in body and mind, and above the age of twenty-one years, are eligible. Apply in person on Monday, at eleven o’clock, to Duncan Ross, at the offices of the League, 7 Pope’s Court, Fleet Street.
Wilson was not one to got out and had never heard of anything like the red headed league, but his assistant had. It was founded by a millionaire who was red headed and has created a fund to give money and assist other red heads.
Apparently the league is only confined to London, as this American first started his business there, and they only accept those with real red hair, bright and blazing not auburn or any dark shades. The work is light and it means an extra £100 a year.
Wilson decides to try out, but is disheartened at seeing all the other red-headed men. He wants to back out, but his assistant won’t let him and on he goes. He gets picked to continue and gets his hair practically ripped out as they must test that it is really red.
He is chosen and given £4 a week for just copying out the Encyclopedia Britannica.
He gets going all the way to Attica, but then it all ends.
He goes to the league and finds a notice upon the door.
THE RED HEADED LEAGUE IS DISSOLVED
Wilson tries to track down the people, but the landlord says they were just renting it until his offices were redecorated. When Wilson goes to the address provided for the offices he finds a factory and that no one had even heard of the league or the people involved.
Sherlock Holmes believes he has figured the case out. Will he catch the Red Headed League Red Handed?
Thoughts After Reading:
I loved this story.
It was fantastic, thought provoking, and altogether a great story. And the conclusion,
You should defintely check it out.
For more by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, go to A Scandal in Bohemia
For more Sherlock Holmes, go to The Sign of the Four
For more short stories, go to The Utterly Perfect Murder
For more mysteries with private investigators, go to Secrets Can Kill