BLTC Press Titles

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Knowledge of Higher Worlds and its Attainment

Rudolf Steiner

The Haunted Bookshop

Christopher Morely

Theory of Colours

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Esoteric Buddhism

A. P. Sinnett


by Herbert George Jenkins


The night was young, it was barely nine o'clock, and his whole being yearned for some adventure. He was still preoccupied with the subject of larceny. His wits, Bindle argued, were of little or no use in the furniture-removing business, where mediocrity formed the standard of excellence. There would never be a Napoleon of furniture-removers, but there had been several Napoleons of crime. If a man were endowed with genius, he should also be supplied with a reasonable outlet for it.

Walking meditatively along the North End Road, he was awakened to realities by his foot suddenly striking against something that jingled. He stooped and picked up two keys attached to a ring, which he swiftly transferred to one of his pockets and passed on. Some one might be watching him.

Two minutes later he drew forth his find for examination. Attached to the ring was a metal tablet, upon which were engraved the words: "These keys are the property of Professor Sylvanus Conti, 13 Audrey Mansions, Queen's Club, West Kensington, W. Reward for their return, 2s. 6d."

The keys were obviously those of the outer door of a block of mansions and the door of a flat. If they were returned the reward was two shillings and sixpence, which would bring up the day's takings to nine shillings and sixpence. If, on the other hand, the keys were retained for the purpose of

At that moment Bindle's eye caught sight of a ticket upon a stall littered with old locks and keys, above which blazed and spluttered a paraffin torch. "Keys cut while you wait," it announced. Without a moment's hesitation he slipped the two keys from their ring and held them out to the proprietor of the stall.

"'Ow much to make two like 'em, mate?" he inquired. The man took the keys, examined them for a moment, and replied:

"One an' thruppence from you, capt'in."

"Well, think o' me as a pretty girl an' say a bob, an' it's done," replied Bindle.

The man regarded him with elaborate gravity for a few moments. "If yer turn yer face away I'll try," he replied, and proceeded to fashion the duplicates.

Meanwhile Bindle deliberated. If he retained the keys there would be suspicion at the flats, and perhaps locks would be changed; if, on the other hand, the keys were returned immediately, the owner would trouble himself no further.

At this juncture he was not very clear as to what he intended to do. He was still undecided when the four keys were handed to him in return for a shilling.

The mind of Joseph Bindle invariably responded best to the ministrations of beer, and when, half an hour later, he left the bar of the Purple Goat, his plans were formed, and his mind made up. He vaguely saw the hand of Providence in this discovery of Professor Conti's keys, and he was determined that Providence should not be disappointed in him, Joseph Bindle.

First he bought a cheap electric torch, guaranteed for twelve or twenty-four hours—the shopkeeper was not quite certain which. Then, proceeding to a chemist's shop, he purchased a roll of medical bandaging. With this he retired up a side street and proceeded to swathe his head and the greater part of his face, leaving only his eyes, nose, and mouth visible. Drawing his cap carefully over the bandages, he returned to the highway, first having improvised the remainder of the bandaging into an informal sling for his left arm. Not even Mrs. Bindle herself would have recognized him, so complete was the disguise.

Ten minutes later he was at Audrey Mansions. No one was visible, and with great swiftness and dexterity he tried the duplicate keys in the open outer door. One fitted perfectly. Mounting to the third floor, he inserted the other in the door of No. 13. The lock turned easily. Quite satisfied, he replaced them in his pocket and rang the bell. There was no answer. He rang again, and a third time, but without result.

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