Table of Contents
Story in a Nutshell
“The Red-Headed League” is one of the many short stories written by Arthur Conan Doyle about the life of a detective Sherlock Holmes and how he solved crimes. The story places Sherlock in the company of a client, Wilson, who has come to seek Holmes’ help after facing a queer problem. Wilson runs a pawnshop with his assistant, Spaulding. One day, Spaulding showed him an advertisement in the newspaper that announced an opening in the Red-Headed League.
The salary was 4 pounds a week and Spaulding urged Wilson to join this league which Wilton, shyly, did. Mr. Duncan Ross who is the head of the league recited his task for him which was to come to the office from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. each day and copying out the Encyclopedia Britannica in longhand.
This went on for eight weeks until one day, Wilson reached the office to find it closed and that the company has dissolved. Wilson felt disturbed after the sudden announcement of the company and hence, decided to seek the advice of Sherlock Holmes.
The first scene opens up with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson out on the streets. The reach Wilson’s shop in Saxe-Coburg Square. Sherlock carries a stick with him and knocks on the road outside the shop. Then he knocks on the door and Spaulding comes out inquiring what they want. Sherlock asks a general question to him and after answering that, Spaulding goes inside and shuts the door.
Sherlock turns towards Watson and remarks that he is indeed a clever man and questions Watson whether he noticed his trousers. Perplexed, Watson asks him what is so great about the trousers, Sherlock replies that he won’t say anything until the time is right and requests Watson to be present tonight.
The next scene takes place in the strong room at a bank where Holmes, Watson,
Jones and a policeman are on stage hiding behind some boxes. Holmes whispers to Jones asking whether everything is in order and Jones replies affirmative. Suddenly they see a light coming through the stone floor and saw some stones to move. Then they witnessed a hand with a gun coming out, then Spaulding comes out followed by Ross.
They whisper to one another, quite unaware of the trap laid down by Holmes. When Spaulding is about to put his plan to action, Holmes comes out from behind his box, and hits Spaulding’s arm. The rest of the members file out and tries to stop Ross from fleeing. Holmes successfully manages to catch the false “Red Headed League.”
In the final scene, Holmes and Watson are sitting in Sherlock Holmes’s study. Sherlock Naoreet how he solved the keys to Watson. He said that there was never any red-headed league. Spaulding, who is actually a notorious thief, John Clay wanted his master, Wilson to be away from the store for a couple of hours every day. He saw Ross’s red colored hair and thought of a redheaded league which would keep his master occupied while they carried out their plan.
They were making a tunnel down the cellar of the shop to the bank behind the street. Sherlock talk to him self why would they make a tunnel to the bank and realized the tunnel was to get into the bank’s strong room, of course! Watson inquired how Sherlock knew that this was the day they were going to steal from the bank to which Sherlock replied because it was a Saturday and the bank remain closed on Saturdays.
Sherlock also reminded Watson that the redheaded league was close down meaning that the work had been completed. Sherlock used his intellect to solve the problem and also catch the notorious criminals.
About the Author
Sherlock Holmes is considered to be one of the greatest detectives in the world. Sherlock’s way of solving crimes is intellectual and analytical rather than being violent. In the story, Holmes observes his surroundings and thinks of a solution instead of jumping to conclusions straight away. In order to find out which way the tunnel is being created, he taps on the road with a stick to find the hollow sound. Sherlock sticks to his plans and carries it out brilliantly.
The story serves as a thrill to the readers as we remain in the dark with Watson about what is happening. Sherlocks ability to solve the crime makes us praise him and at the same time applaud at the cunningness of the story.