Nathaniel Cannon and the Lost City of Pitu No. 22

Cannon and Lachapelle sat facing the window in Cannon’s cabin. The Frenchman lit a cigarette. Cannon slid an ashtray toward him and sipped from his Scotch. Out the window, the rising sun framed the cloud of ash spewing from Mount Soendoro’s peak, tinting it golden. The lava flow burned a black gash into the lush mountain jungle, then disappeared behind the ridge which hid Pitu. Far in the distance, Snavely’s balloon floated southward a few miles behind the Nazi zep.

“It is a wondairful view, non?” Lachapelle remarked.

Cannon nodded.

“I would ‘azard zat, on ze balance, it was a successful shrip.”

Cannon cocked a brow and sipped at his glass again.

Lachapelle tapped his cigarette on the ashtray. “Ze Antiquities Bureau, I suspect zey will pay a fine price for ze contents of zose crates. ‘indou idols? Jewelry? Ze carvings on zose jugs? Monsieur Cannon, you ‘ave made me a rich man, and yourself a richer one.”

“That’s if you hold up your end, Lachapelle. What’s keeping you from doing a runner once you get your hands on the jack?”

“Ze money? Dieu, Monsieur Cannon, it is no wonder ze English do not like you aftair what you do to zeir language. I will not ‘do a runnair’ because I already ‘ave powerful enemies to excess. Send Mademoiselle Fostair along, if you must, to keep ‘air eye on me.”

Cannon set his glass down, laid his arm on his desk, and faced the Frenchman. “She won’t let you get away with anything crooked, that’s for sure. Look, Lachapelle, it’s not personal. It’s just business. You bought yourself a lot of ill will with this crew with that double-cross in Panama. If you’re on the level this time, well, you’ll have gone a long way toward paying your debt.”

Lachapelle blinked. “I am unaccustomed to such frankness, but I cannot say it is not fair.”

“I’m glad you think so,” Cannon said, taking his glass and looking out the window again. “It’s the only deal you get.”

Mount Soendoro and the city of Pitu, now lost forever, faded into the distance at eighty miles an hour. Eventually, Cannon asked, “What are you going to do with your cut?”

Lachapelle lifted his shoulders and let them fall. “I admit, ze money is but a means. I do zese sorts of sings for ze aventure.” He lit a new cigarette. “May I ask of you ze same question?”

Cannon opened a drawer in his desk. Inside were three aerial photographs, and a chart of the South Pacific with a red circle marking a location. He set them in front of Lachapelle and smiled. “I have a few ideas.”

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