what are three clues that led the Holmes' conclusion in the red-headed league?

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rogal eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The first clue that helps Sherlock Holmes to solve the mystery of the red-headed league is the fact that Mr. Wilson’s assistant at the pawn shop is willing to work at half wages just so that he can learn the trade, even though he is worth more than what he is being paid and knows it. Also, the fact that the advertisement containing information on the red-headed league job offer is brought to the attention of Mr. Wilson by this same assistant, who goes by the name of Vincent Spaulding. Holmes then makes the connection that Spaulding has something to do with Mr. Wilson’s case, especially since he works hard at encouraging his employer to seek the advertised position. The question then is how Spaulding stands to benefit from having Mr. Wilson take up the red-headed league job offer.

In taking up the job offer, Spaulding benefits by having Mr. Wilson outside the pawn shop from ten to two, daily, at the cost of four sovereigns per week. The next question then is why Spaulding wants his employer away from the shop at such hours so much so that he is even willing to part with four sovereigns every week. Since Mr. Wilson’s business is small and barely profitable, Holmes thinks that the attraction must be something outside of the business. Also, the fact that Mr. Wilson’s description of Spaulding answers to that of John Clay, a “murderer, thief, smasher, and forger” (whom, however, Holmes has never met), makes Spaulding a prime suspect in the case. Following Mr. Wilson’s earlier admission that Spaulding spent hours in the shop’s cellar, together with evidence of Spaulding’s worn and dirty trouser knees, Holmes concludes that the assistant spends his time digging at something in the cellar. The only plausible explanation then is that Spaulding must be digging a tunnel in Wilson’s cellar, a tunnel he hopes to use to get to another business situated close to the pawn shop, the most lucrative hit then being the City and Suburban Bank.

kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the story, there are a number of clues which lead Holmes to make his conclusion that the League is nothing more than a ruse to cover up an attempted bank robbery.

The first clue comes in the form of the high wages (£4 a week) paid to Mr. Wilson for copying out sections of the Encyclopedia Britannica. For Holmes, such a high amount of money was an obvious "lure" to get Mr. Wilson out of the way for several hours each day.

The second clue was the stained, dirty trousers, which proved that Spaulding was digging in the cellar, not doing photography, as he claimed.

The third clue came in the form of the City and Suburban Bank. From its location, Holmes deduced that the tunnel cellar was heading in that direction, therefore proving that the Red-Headed League was a front to rob this bank.

crmhaske eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The three clues that lead Holmes to conclude who Spalding's real identity is are:

  1. Appearance: short, stout, quick, and no facial hair
  2. There is a white splash of acid on his forehead
  3. Pierced ears for wearing earings from a Gypsy

There are five clues in total in the novel that Holmes uses to solve the mystery:

  1. Spalding was frequently in the cellar
  2. From 10am-2pm, Jabez was at his job with the red-headed league
  3. The ground in front of Jabez's pawn shop is solid
  4. Spalding's knees were covered with soil
  5. Jabez's pawn shop is located behind the City and Suburban Bank
tjbrewer eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Holmes also observed:

  1. The Red-Headed League appeared shortly after Jabez hired Spalding. 
  2. Spalding encouraged Jabez to remain in line when he found everyone in the city with a trace of red in their hair had responded to the ad in the paper.

These clues told Holmes that Spalding may not be who he seemed to be.  The clues listed by crmhaske identified confirmed Spalding's identity.  The 5 clues related to what Spalding was doing, and the shop's location relative to the bank told Holmes what Spalding and the fictitious Red-Headed League were up to. 

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The Red-Headed League

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