Mr. Wilson wants to join the Red-Headed League simply because he wants the money. The job is a ridiculously easy one, copying the encyclopedia, and the pay is good.
The strange story begins when Mr. Wilson gets a new assistant who does good work for little money. This young man shows him a newspaper advertisement for a strange group called The Red-Headed League.
The first thing that put us out was that advertisement. Spaulding, he came down into the office just this day eight weeks, with this very paper in his hand, and he says:
“ ‘I wish to the Lord, Mr. Wilson, that I was a red-headed man.’ ”(p. 5)
This sparks Mr. Wilson’s interest. He finds out more about the job, and applies for it.
For £4 a week, all Mr. Wilson has to do is copy the Encyclopaedia Britannica and not leave the room.
‘No excuse will avail,’ said Mr. Duncan Ross; ‘neither sickness nor business nor anything else. There you must stay, or you lose your billet.' (p. 9)
Of course, the League turns out to be a front for the bank robbery, and when it closes up one day Mr. Wilson hires Mr. Holmes, who figures out what is going on and makes sure the criminal is arrested.
The League was brought to Wilson's attention by his assistant. He was interested in joining the League because only members of the League could be eligible for the job, which paid him for copying from the encyclopedia. Wilson appriciated the money he made for very little work.