The Shadow in the North
said.
    "What do you know about Axel Bellmann?" she said.
    "Hardly anything at all. He's a financier, and my client works for him. That's all I know."
    "And you call yourself a detective?"

    She spoke scornfully but without malice and bent to sort through some papers at her feet. Her hair fell forward again; impatiently she shook it out and then looked up at him, her cheeks flushed and her eyes bright. He felt the familiar wave of helpless love, followed by the equally familiar wave of angry resignation. How could this untidy, half-ignorant financial obsessive have such a power over him?
    He sighed and saw she was holding out a paper. He took it and read her clear, swift handwriting:
    AXEL BELLMANN —BORN SWEDEN(?) 1835(?) —FIRST CAME TO PROMINENCE IN BALTIC TIMBER TRADE— MATCH FACTORIES IN GOTEBORG, STOCKHOLM— FACTORY IN VILNA CLOSED DOWN ON GOVERNMENT ORDERS FOLLOWING FIRE IN WHICH THIRTY-FIVE WORKERS DIED—SHIPPING INTERESTS: ANGLO-BALTIC STEAM NAVIGATION COMPANY—MINING, IRON FOUNDING—BUYS CHEAPLY COMPANIES THAT ARE FAILING, CLOSES THEM DOWN, SELLS OFF THEIR ASSETS—FIRST CAME TO ENGLAND 1865—OBSCURE SCANDAL INVOLVING MEXICAN RAILWAYS—DISAPPEARED—BELIEVED JAILED IN MEXICO, 1868-9— NEXT HEARD OF IN RUSSL\ WITH PARTNER ARNE NORDENFELS IN SCHEME AGAIN INVOLVING RAIL-WAYS(?)—NO TRACE OF NORDENFELS AFTER BELLMANN ARRIVED IN LONDON 1873, APPARENTLY WITH LIMITLESS FUNDS—PAPERS GAVE HIM NICKNAME THE STEAM KING —PROMOTED NEW COMPANIES,

    PRINCIPALLY MINING, CHEMICALS—FINANCIAL INTERESTS IN STEAM POWER, RAILWAYS, ETC.—NORTH STAR?—UNMARRIED—ADDRESS: 47 HYDE PARK GATE; BALTIC HOUSE, THREADNEEDLE STREET.
    Frederick handed back the paper. "He sounds a shifty sort of character. Why are you interested in him?"
    "I've got a cUent who lost ail her money in the Anglo-Baltic shipping company. It was my fault, Fred; it was awfiil. I advised her to invest in it, and a few months later it collapsed. There was no warning at all. ... I looked into it, and I think he did it deliberately. Just wiped it out. There must have been thousands of people who lost their money in that company. It was very cleverly done; youd never suspect. But the more I look, the more I feel things aren't right. It's too vague to be sure about, but there's something nasty going on. This man Nordenfels ..."
    "His partner in Russia? The one there's no trace of?"
    "Yes. I found out something today; I'll have to add it to that paper. Nordenfels was a designer of steam engines. He designed the engine of the IngridLinde —that was an Anglo-Baltic steamship that vanished on the way to Riga. It wasn't properly insured, and that was one of the things that ruined the company. But Nordenfels just vanished; there's no trace of him after he was seen in Russia."
    Frederick scratched his head and leaned back, stretching his legs out careftilly to avoid Chaka.

    "And whys there a question mark after North Star^"
    "Simply because I don't know what it is. That's why this seance of yours is so exciting. What did she say, again?"
    She took the paper from him and peered closely.
    "/iT isnt Hopkinsoriy but theyre not to know. . . . And then she says the Regulator. This is amazing, Fred. This company—North Star—no one knows what it is or what it's for; certainly the papers don't. The only thing I've managed to find out is that it's somehow connected with a machine, or a process, or something, anyway, that's called the Hopkinson Self-Regulator."
    "Steam engines have regulators," Frederick said. "And he's called the Steam King, is he, this Bellmann character?"
    "He used to be. I think he had someone working for him, a journalist perhaps, who'd put pieces about him in the papers—not real news but short pieces to make him seem interesting and important. To make him seem like someone worth investing in. And when he first came here, five or six years ago, and set up his first companies, that was what they used to call him. But they haven't used that name for some

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