The client's name is Jabez Wilson, and to Dr. Watson's eyes he seems a very ordinary person, distinguished only by possessing hair of an unusually deep shade of red. Holmes of course, running a practiced eye over the man, picks up on numerous personal details, including the fact that Wilson has recently been doing a lot of writing. Surprised, Wilson admits this is so, and goes on to explain. He owns a pawn shop, which he lives above. For the last few years, business has been bad, and while he used to employ two clerks, he can now only afford one, at a reduced level of pay. Fortunately, his present clerk, Vincent Spaulding, is willing to work for the relatively low wage in return for learning the business. Wilson is grateful that Spaulding has stayed as long as he has, as he is a smart fellow who could easily find higher paid employment. The only fault Mr. Wilson finds with him is that he spends a little too much time on his hobby of photography, enthusiastically taking pictures of everything and everybody, and developing them in the basement of the shop.
To the Red-headed League:
On account of the bequest of the late Ezekiah Hopkins, of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., there is now another vacancy open which entitles a member of the League to a salary of four pounds 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.
Jabez Wilson is incredulous, but his clerk assures him that it is a well-known fact that Hopkins was an eccentric millionaire originally from London who, having made his fortune in America, wished to do some good for his home city. A man with flaming red hair himself, Hopkins set up a trust in his will to provide easy employment for others with the same colour hair. Spaulding urges his boss to go apply for the position, and though he thinks it's all very strange, business is bad enough that Wilson decides to give it a go.