The Hercules Detective Agency The Case of the Magic Wool
No Problem Too Large or Too Small, Reasonable Fees
Proprietor Hercules (Roman name), also known as Heracles (Greek name), also known as Herc (Nickname)
Hercules was relaxing in his courtyard after a long day helping out the local farmers.
The farmers all agreed that having a super strong half-god in the neighborhood had some advantages. And Hercules greatly appreciated their gifts of food.
As Hercules settled down to relax, the god Pan showed up.
"Nice haircut, Pan," mused Hercules, "although I think I like the shaggy look better."
"Hercules," said Pan dismally. "I have a problem. It may turn out to be catastrophic!"
"You know, causing great damage or suffering."
"That sounds serious." Hercules saw his relaxing time disappearing. "Pan, you're worrying me. What did you do?'
"I don't want to talk about it," Pan mumbled.
"Pan, if you don't tell me the problem, I have no chance of helping you. You understand that, right?" Hercules pasted on his most encouraging smile, although he was getting even more worried. "Slowly, so I can understand it, tell me what happened."
"I played a prank on Zeus."
"What!" Hercules bellowed. "Are you insane?"
"I know. But I do so love pranks. Unfortunately, this one backfired and got Zeus in trouble with Hera again."
"Perfect," Hercules sighed.
"I knew I had to hide out for a bit where Zeus would never find me until he calmed down.."
"Not here," Hercules said firmly.
"I don't need your help to hide. I already hid. I thought I was being so clever. I took on the shape of a sheep and hid in the midst of a herd of sheep, figuring he'd never spot me."
"That was good," Hercules nodded in approval. "Just give him time. He almost always calms down after a while. It's not like it's his first fight with Hera."
"Hercules! Let me explain!" Pan took a deep breath. "Just as I was about to turn back into myself, Zeus showed up. I think I may have used the sheep disguise on him before. He kept staring at the herd. Then the shepherd and his assistants showed up and herded all the sheep into a large pen. From there, we were sent down a corridor. It was very narrow and we were all shoved together."
Hercules could not think of a single thing to say, so he did not say anything. He just waited.
Pan sighed, a massive sigh. "This is the point where everything went wrong. Zeus was still watching and he was still super angry. He was so angry his lightning bolts were crackling!"
"Oh my," gasped Hercules, never having seen such a thing.
"So I had no choice. I took my turn down the corridor. To my horror, once I was trapped at the end of the corridor, the shepherd sheared me."
"Sheared you?" echoed Hercules in confusion.
"Yes," cried Pan. "He cut off all my long wooly hair."
'Oh, Pan," Hercules relaxed. "You had me worried there. Sounds to me like you got lucky. Your hair will grow back. Zeus didn't catch you. And he'll get over being mad at you. He likes you."
"Zeus isn't the problem, Hercules. Remember, I am a god. I have never had a haircut before. I've never needed one. My hair has been the same length forever."
"So you're worried your hair won't grow back?"
"No. Well, that too, but mostly - what if my hair has some magical property? I don't think it does but how would I know? This has never happened to me before."
"Oh," said Hercules, finally understanding. "I see. That could be a problem."
"You think. And I don't know where my hair might be. I went back to see the sheepherder to try and get my hair back, but when I showed up, nobody was home. I think they took all their wool to market. Hercules, you have to help me!"
"Don't worry. Just calm down. You know I'll help you. Point me to the sheepherder and I'll take it from there. But you are going to owe me a large favor for this. Larger than any favor you have ever paid me before."
"Anything, Hercules. Anything! Just hurry."
Hercules ran to the sheepherders home. There he found the family just returning home from the market.
"Shepherd, " asked Hercules. "Did you sell your wool at the market today?"
"Why yes, Mr. Hercules. I got a really good price for it, too. This batch of wool had a very nice woodsy odor to it."
"Who did you sell it to?" Hercules asked, trying not to sound too desperate to find out.
"I sold most of it to one of the merchants, the blanket maker, but I kept a little for the widow who makes and sells shawls. I always give her a little of my wool to help her make ends meet. My wife thinks I'm too soft," the shepherd shared a bit sheepishly. "But I think it's important to help others. I know you agree with that."
"I most certainly do," Hercules agreed. He was beginning to like this shepherd very much. "Thank you for your help. I would love to stay and talk, but I really have to run. I'm on a case." With that, Hercules lost no time running into town.
"Wow," thought the shepherd. "I helped Hercules with a case! That will me give bragging rights with all the sheepherders! What a great day!"
Hercules tracked down the blanket merchant. "Sir," Hercules began politely. "May I talk to you for a bit?"
"The great Hercules! Of course," the merchant beamed.
"Did you buy some wool earlier today?" Hercules asked.
"Yes, I did. Hercules, trust me when I tell you, there is nothing wrong with that wool. It has the most pleasant odor, a slightly woodsy smell. I have never smelled anything like it." The merchant hesitated. "Was it stolen?"
"No, nothing like that. But what did you do with it?"
"It's still in the sack. I haven't had time to start spinning the wool into thread yet."
"Great," gusted Hercules. "I need that sack of wool. I will make sure that you get your money back for it, but I really need it."
"If I did not get my money back, it would be a loss I could not afford."
"You have my word on it. You will be repaid," Hercules promised.
"Your word is good with me. Take it," the merchant nodded.
Hercules lifted the sack and asked for directions to the shawl makers home.
"Thank you for your help," he told the merchant. With that, Hercules ran hastily off, with the bag of wool slung over one shoulder. When he arrived at the widow's door, he knocked gently.
"Who is it?" called the widow without opening her door.
"It is Hercules, on business for The Hercules Detective Agency," Hercules called through the door, so the widow would not think he might be there on some other type errand.
"Hercules!" the widow gasped. "Please, come in. How can I help the great Hercules?"
"I need to know if you have used any of the wool that you got from the sheepherder today?
"Why yes, Hercules. I have spun and woven and knitted it into a beautiful shawl. I have enough wool to make three more. I am planning to take them to the market tomorrow. They have the most delightful woodsy odor."
"I truly need that shawl and all the rest of the wool he gave you," Hercules told her. "I will ensure that you do get paid for it."
"If the great Hercules needs that wool, I can only believe it is for a good cause. So please take it, take all of it, with my blessings."
Hercules thanked her as he scooped up the wool and the shawl and shoved them into the bag he was carrying. "I will be back with your payment soon." With that, he was off.
Returning to his home, Hercules found Pan still waiting.
"Here is the unused wool, and one shawl already made from it. Now, how are you going to find out what the magic is?"
"I will take it up to the god Hephaestus and have him check it out. If there is any magic he will find it." Pan was quite sure about it. "What a relief! I'm glad that's over!"
"It's not over. You still need to pay the blanket merchant and the widow for the wool and the shawl."
"Where is my brain? Of course I do! But how am I going to pay them?" Pan worried.
"I am sure you know of some lost treasures out in the woods somewhere," sighed Hercules. "Or your companions, the wood nymphs do. Go find it and bring it back here and I will make sure everyone gets paid."
"That is an excellent idea," agreed Pan.
And that is what happened.
As it turned out, the only magic property Pan's hair had was that it was water repellent, oh, and it had a slightly woodsy odor.
The wood nymphs, when Pan asked them for help, dug up a bag of gold. Pan was quite sure that it did not belong to the person who had buried it deep in the forest. Since he had no idea who did own it, he decided it would serve his purpose quite well. With a light heart, Pan divided the gold into two small, lumpy bags and brought them to Hercules to deliver for him. Feeling very pleased with himself that he did not keep any of the gold nuggets for himself, Pan decided to thank the merchant and the widow for their help not only with a gift of gold, but with the wool and the shawl as well.
Hercules immediately set out to visit the home of the widow. He returned her shawl and her wool with his thanks. He gave her one small lumpy bag as a gift. "Thank you, Hercules. I'm so glad I could help," she said, putting the bag aside to open later.
Next, Hercules visited the merchant. Hercules returned his bag of wool and he too was handed a small, lumpy bag as a gift for his help. A well-used, slightly dirty, lumpy bag was an unusual thank you gift, the merchant thought to himself, but he was grateful for the wool. He had not expected the wool to be returned and had already decided that to help the mighty Hercules was worth the loss. Now, he had his wool back and a present besides, if a rather odd one.
"Thank you, Hercules," he smiled. Sometime later, he tugged open the bag to see what Hercules had given him. He nearly fainted when he realized the bag was full of gold.
Hercules named this case The Case of the Magic Wool, and tucked it away with the other case files from the Hercules Detective Agency. It was not until he received an invitation to the wedding of the blanket merchant and the widow, to be held in the new barn built by the sheepherder, that he wondered if perhaps the wool had been a bit magical after all.