The Shadow in the NorthPhilip Pullman
THE SHADOW IN THE NORTH
By Philip Pullman
The Sally Lockhart Quartet
The Ruby in the Smoke The Shadow in the North The Tiger in the Well The Tin Princess
His Dark Materials
The Subtle Knife
The Amber Spyglass Lyra's Oxford
Once Upon a Time in the North The New Cut Gang
Thunderbolt's Waxwork The Gas-Fitters' Ball Contemporary Novels
The Broken Bridge The Butterfly Tattoo The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ Books with Pictures and Fairy Tales
The Scarecrow and his Servant Spring-Heeled Jack Count Karlstein
The Firework Makers' Daughter I Was A Rat!
Puss in Boots
Grimm Tales: For Young and Old Plays
Sherlock Holmes and the Limehouse Horror
THE SHADOW IN THE NORTH
A SALLY LOCKHART MYSTERY
About the Author
Born in Norwich in 1946, Philip Pullman is a world-renowned writer. His novels have won every major award for children's fiction, and are now also established as adult bestsellers. The His Dark Materials trilogy came third in the BBC's "Big Read" competition to find the nation's favourite book. In 2005 he was awarded the Astrid Lingren Memorial Award, the world's biggest prize for children's literature. Philip is married with two grown-up children, and lives in Oxford.
"Stories are the most important thing in the world. Without stories, we wouldn't be human beings at all"
For my parents
CERTAIN ITEMS OF HISTORICAL INTEREST 1878
Chapter OneUNSOLVED MYSTERIES OF THE SEA
Chapter TwoTHE WIZARD OF THE NORTH
Chapter ThreeTHE PHOTOGRAPHERS
Chapter FourNELLIE BUDD
Chapter FiveA FINANCIAL CONSULTATION
Chapter SixLADY MARY
Chapter SevenA STRANGE PROPOSAL
Chapter EightDECLARATION OF WAR
Chapter TenTHE WINTER GARDEN
Chapter ElevenTHE DEMON-TRAP
Chapter TwelvePHANTASMS OF THE LIVING
Chapter ThirteenA GREAT NEW WORK FOR THE BENEFIT OF ALL MANKIND
Chapter FourteenTHE STEAM GUN
Chapter FifteenSCOTS LAW
Chapter SeventeenTHE REMOVAL VAN
Chapter EighteenHYDE PARK
Chapter Twenty-oneINTO THE SHADOW
Chapter Twenty-twoPOWER AND SERVICE
Chapter Twenty-threeTHE ORCHARD
UNSOLVED MYSTERIES OF THE SEA
One sunny morning in the spring of 1878, the steamship Ingrid Linde, the pride of the Anglo-Baltic shipping line, vanished in the Baltic Sea.
She had been carrying a cargo of machine parts, and a passenger or two, from Hamburg to Riga. The voyage had been uneventful; the ship was only two years old, well found and seaworthy, and the weather was gentle.
A day out from Hamburg, she was sighted by a schooner plying in the opposite direction. They exchanged signals. A barque, in the same part of the sea, would have seen her two hours later if the Ingrid Linde had kept to her course. But the barque saw nothing.
She vanished so swiftly and so completely that journalists of the time scented something as delicious as the lost continent of Atlantis, or the Mary Celeste, or the Flying Dutchman. They got hold of the fact that the Chairman of the Anglo-Baltic line and his wife and daughter were on board, and filled the papers with accounts of how it was the little girl's first voyage; that on the contrary, she wasn't a little girl, but a young lady of eighteen, with a mysterious disease; that there was a curse on the ship, laid by a former sailor; that the cargo consisted of a deadly mixture of explosives and alcohol; that in the Captain's cabin there was a fetish idol from the Congo, which he had stolen from an African tribe; that in that part of the sea there was a gigantic and unpredictable whirlpool which appeared without warning and sucked ships down into a monstrous cavern at the centre of the earth - and so on, and so on.
The story became quite famous. It was resurrected occasionally by writers who specialized in books with titles like Strange Horrors of the Deep.
But without facts, even the most inventive journalism peters out in the end, and there were no facts at all in this case - just a ship which had been there one minute and vanished the next, and the sunshine, and the empty sea.
One cold morning a few months afterwards, an old lady knocked on the door of an office in the financial heart of London. Painted on the door were the words S. Lockhart, Financial Consultant. After a moment, a voice - a female voice - called out, "Come in," and the old lady entered the room.
S. Lockhart - the S stood for Sally - stood up behind her cluttered desk; she was a remarkably pretty young woman of twenty-two or so, with blonde hair and deep brown eyes. The old lady took one step into the room, and then hesitated, because standing on the hearth in front of the coal fire was the biggest dog she had ever seen - as black as night and, to judge from its shape, a mixture of bloodhound, Great Dane and werewolf.
"Down, Chaka," said Sally Lockhart, and the great beast sat peacefully. Its head still came up to her waist. "It's Miss Walsh, isn't it? How do you do?"
The old lady shook the hand she held out. "Not altogether well," she said.
"Oh, I'm sorry," said Sally. "Please - sit down."
She cleared some papers off a chair, and they sat on either side of the fire. The dog lay down and put its head on its paws.
"If I remember correctly - I'll get the file in a minute - I helped you with some investments last year," Sally said. "You had three thousand pounds - isn't that right? And I advised you to go for shipping."
"I wish you had not," said Miss Walsh. "I bought shares in a company called Anglo-Baltic, on your recommendation. Perhaps you remember."
Sally's eyes widened. Miss Walsh, who'd taught geography to hundreds of girls before she retired, and who was a shrewd judge, knew that look well; it was the expression of someone who's made a bad mistake, and has just realized it, and is going to face the consequences without ducking.
"The Ingrid Linde," said Sally. "Of course. . . And wasn't there a steamship that sank as well? I remember reading about it in The Times - oh, dear."
She got up and took a large book of newspaper clippings from the shelf behind her. While she leafed through it, Miss Walsh folded her hands in her lap and looked around the room. It was neat and clean, though the furniture was threadbare and the carpet worn. There was a cheerful fire in the hearth, and a kettle hissing beside it; the books and the files on the shelves, and the map of Europe pinned to the wall gave the place a businesslike look of purpose.
As for Miss Lockhart, she was looking grim. She tucked a strand of blonde hair behind her ear and sat down, book open on her lap.
"Anglo-Baltic collapsed," she said. "Why didn't I notice. . . What happened?"
"You mentioned the Ingrid Linde. There was another ship, a schooner, not a steamship - that was lost too. And a third ship was impounded by the Russian authorities in St Petersburg - I don't know why, but they had to pay an enormous fine to have her released. . . Oh, there were a dozen things. When you advised me to buy into it, the firm was prospering. I was delighted with your advice. And a year later it was finished."
"It changed hands, I see. I'm reading this for the first time; I cut out things
like this so as to have them for reference, but I don't always have time to read them. Weren't they insured against the loss of the ships?"
"There was some complication; Lloyds refused to pay out - I didn't understand the details. There was so much bad luck, and so suddenly, that I almost began to believe in curses. In a malevolent fate."
The old lady was gazing into the fire, holding herself perfectly upright in the worn armchair. Then she looked at Sally again.
"Of course, I know that's nonsense," she went on more briskly. "Being struck by lightning today doesn't prevent you from being struck again tomorrow; I'm quite familiar with the theory of statistics. But it's hard to keep a clear head when your money is vanishing and you can neither see why nor prevent it. I've got nothing left now but a tiny annuity. That three thousand pounds was a legacy from my brother and a lifetime's savings."
Sally opened her mouth to speak, but Miss Walsh held up her hand and went on:
"Now please understand, Miss Lockhart, I do not blame you. If I choose to speculate with my money, I have to take the risk that I shall lose it. And at the time, Anglo-Baltic was an excellent investment. I came to you in the first place on the recommendation of Mr Temple the lawyer, of Lincoln's Inn, because I have a lifetime's interest in the emancipation of women, and nothing pleases me more than to see a young lady such as yourself earning a living in this enterprising way. So I come to you again to ask for your advice: is there anything I can do to recover my money? I strongly suspect, you see, that it's not bad luck; it's fraud."
Sally put her book of clippings down on the floor, and reached for a pencil and a notebook.
"Tell me everything you know about the firm," she said.
Miss Walsh began. She had a clear mind, and the facts were marshalled tidily. There weren't many of them; living as she did in Croydon, with no connections with the world of business, she'd had to rely on what she could gather from the newspapers.
Anglo-Baltic had been founded twenty years before, she reminded Sally, to profit from the timber trade. It had grown modestly but steadily, and carried furs and iron ore as well as timber from the Baltic ports, and machine tools and other industrial products from Britain.
Two years before it had been taken over, Miss Walsh thought, or bought out - could that happen? She wasn't sure - by one of the original partners, after a dispute. The firm had leapt ahead, like a locomotive when the brakes were taken off; new ships were ordered, new contracts were found, a North Atlantic connection was built up. Profits rose remarkably in the first year under the new management, which was what had persuaded Miss Walsh - and hundreds of others - to invest.
And then came the first of the apparently unconnected blows which had brought the company to liquidation in just as short a time. MissWalsh had details of them all, and Sally was impressed again by the old lady's command of the facts - and of herself, because it was clear that she was now on the brink of poverty, having expected to live out her retirement in modest comfort.
Towards the end of Miss Walsh's account, the name Axel Bellmann came into the story, and Sally looked up.
"Bellmann?" she said. "The match manufacturer?"
"I don't know what else he is," said Miss Walsh. "He didn't have any great connection with the company; I happened to see his name in a newspaper article. I think he owned the cargo the Ingrid Linde was carrying when it sank. She sank. I could never get used to calling them she, could you? Some kind of machinery. Why do you ask? Do you know of this Mr Bellman? Who is he?"
"The richest man in Europe," said Sally.
Miss Walsh sat silently for a moment.
"Lucifers," she said. "Phosphorus matches."
"That's right. He made his fortune in the match trade, I believe. . . Though there was some kind of scandal, now I think of it; I heard some gossip a year ago, when he first appeared in London. The Swedish government closed his factories down because of the dangerous working conditions in them -"
"Girls with necrosis of the jaw," said Miss Walsh. "I've read about them, poor things. There are some wicked ways of making money. Did my money go into that, then?"
"As far as I know, Mr Bellmann's been out of the match business for some time. And we don't know of his connection with Anglo-Baltic anyway. Well, Miss Walsh, I'm grateful to you. And I can't tell you how sorry I am. I'm going to get that money back--"
"Now don't say that," said Miss Walsh, in the sort of tone she must have used to frivolous girls who imagined they could pass examinations without working for them. "I don't want promises, I want knowledge. I very much doubt whether I shall ever see that money again, but I am curious to know where it's gone, and I am asking you to find out for me."
Her manner was so severe that most girls would have quailed. But Sally wasn't like that - which was why Miss Walsh had come to her in the first place - and she said hotly: "When someone comes to me for financial advice, I don't find it acceptable that I should lose all their money for them. And I don't want to be patronized when it happens. This is a blow to me, Miss Walsh, as much as it is to you. It's your money, but it's my name, my reputation, my livelihood. . . I intend to look into the affairs of Anglo-Baltic and see what happened and if it's humanly possible I shall recover your money and give it back to you. And I very much doubt whether you'd refuse to take it."
There was a glacial silence from the old lady, and a look that spoke thunder; but Sally sat firm and stared her out. After a moment or two a twinkling warmth appeared in Miss Walsh's eyes and she tapped her fingers together.
"Quite right too," she said.
And they both smiled.
The tension passed out of the room, and Sally got up to tidy her notes away.
"Would you care for some coffee?" she said. "It's rather primitive to make it on the fire, but it tastes all right."
"I'd like that very much. We always used to make coffee on the fire when we were students - I haven't done it for many, many years. May I help?"
And within five minutes they were talking like old friends. The dog was woken and made to move out of the way, the coffee was brewed and poured out, and Sally and Miss Walsh discovered that companionship which only women who'd had to struggle for an education could experience. Miss Walsh had taught at the North London Collegiate College, but she had never taken a degree; nor had Sally, for that matter, although she had studied at Cambridge, taken the examination, and done well in it. The university let women do that much; it just didn't give them degrees.
But Sally and Miss Walsh agreed that the time would come . . . though it was hard to say when.
Eventually Miss Walshstood up to go and Sally noticed her neatly darned gloves, the frayed hem of her coat, and the brightly polished old boots, now badly in need of resoling. It had been more than money she'd lost - it had been the chance of living in modest comfort and without worry after a lifetime of helping others. Sally looked at her and saw how, despite her age and anxiety, the old lady's posture was firm and straight and dignified, and found herself standing more straightly too.
They shook hands, and Miss Walsh turned to the dog, which had risen to sit up expectantly when Sally stood.
"What an extraordinary beast," she said. "Did I hear you call him Chaka?"
"Chaka was a Zulu General," Sally explained. "It seemed appropriate. He was a present; weren't you, boy? He was born in a circus, I believe."
She rubbed his ears affectionately, and the great animal turned and licked her hand with an enveloping tongue, his black eyes glowing with adoration.
Miss Walsh smiled. "I'll send on all the documents I've got," she said. "I'm most grateful to you, Miss Lockhart."
"I haven't done anything yet except lose your money for you," said Sally. "And it might turn out to be no more than it seems - things often do. But I'll see what I can find out."
Sally's background was unusual, even for one who lived an unusual life, as she did. She had never known her mother, and her father (a military man) had taught her a great deal about firearms and f
inance, and very little about anything else. When she was sixteen he had been murdered, and she found herself drawn into a web of danger and mystery. Only her skill with a pistol had saved her - that, and a chance meeting with a young photographer called Frederick Garland.
Together with his sister, Frederick had been running their uncle's photographic business but, for all his skill with a camera, he was quite unable to manage the financial side of it. They were on the verge of ruin when Sally appeared alone, and in deadly danger. In exchange for their help, she took over the running of the business, and her skill with book-keeping and accounts had saved them from bankruptcy.
The business had prospered. Now they employed half a dozen assistants, and Frederick was able to turn his attention to private detection, where his real interest lay. In this he was helped by another old friend of Sally's - a boy called Jim Taylor, who'd been an office boy in her father's firm, with a taste for sensational novels of the sort known as Penny Dreadfuls, and who had the most scurrilous tongue in the City. He was two or three years younger than Sally. In the course of their first adventure he and Frederick had fought, and killed, the most dangerous thug in London. They'd both been nearly killed themselves in the process, but each of them knew that he could rely on the other to the death.
The three of them - Sally and Fred and Jim - shared a great deal. Frederick would have been willing to share more. He was quite frank; he was in love with her, he always had been, he wanted to marry her. Her feelings were more complicated. There were times when she felt she adored him, that no one could be more fascinating and brilliant and brave and funny, and times when she felt furious at him for wasting his talents fiddling with bits of machinery, or disguising himself and prowling about London with Jim, or generally behaving like a little boy who didn't know how to occupy himself. As far as love was concerned, if she loved anyone it was Fred's uncle, Webster Garland, officially her partner in the photographic business: a gentle untidy genius who could create extraordinary poetry out of light and shade and human expression. Webster Garland, and Chaka: yes, she loved them. And she loved her work.
But Fred - well she'd never marry anyone else; but she wouldn't marry him. Not until the Married Women's Property Act was passed.
It wasn't that she didn't trust him, she'd said a hundred times it was a matter of principle. That one moment she could be independent, a partner in a business, with money and property that was her own; and the next, after a clergyman had pronounced them married, every single thing that was hers should become (in the eyes of the law) her husband's instead - that was intolerable. Frederick protested in vain, offered to draw up legal agreements swearing that he'd never touch her property, begged and pleaded and got angry and threw things and then laughed at himself and at her: no good. She wouldn't budge.