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Stephen Leacock

An Irreducible Detective Story
Hanged by a Hair or a Murder Mystery Minimized

The mystery had now reached its climax. First the man had been un­doubt­ed­ly murdered. Secondly, it was as absolutely certain that no conceivable person had done it. It was therefore time to call in the great detective. He gave one searching glance at the corpse. In a moment he whipped out a microscope. ‘Ha! Ha!’ he said, as he picked a hair off the lapel of the dead man's coat. ‘The mystery is solved.’ He held up the hair. ‘Listen,’ he said, ‘we have only to find the man who lost the hair and the criminal is in our hands.’ The inexorable chain of logic was complete. The detective set himself to search. For four days and nights he moved, unobserved, through the streets of New York scanning closely every face he passed, looking for a man who had lost a hair. On the fifth day he discovered a man, disguised as a tourist, his head enveloped in a steamer cap that reached below his ears. The man was about to go on board the Gloritania. The detective followed him on board. ‘Arrest him!’ he said, and then drawing himself to his full height, he brandished aloft the hair. ‘This is his,’ said the great detective. ‘It proves his guilt.’ ‘Remove his hat,’ said the ship's captain sternly. They did so. The man was entirely bald. ‘Ha!’ said the great detective without a moment of hesitation. ‘He has committed not one murder but about a million.’

 

 

 

 

 

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