The Hawaiian folded his paper and set it aside, then gestured to the empty chairs at his table. Cannon pulled one out for Iseabail, then sat next to her. “First,” the Hawaiian continued, “introductions. I am John Manu Wailani.”
“Doctor Daniel Smith,” Cannon replied, “and my wife, Iseabail. It is our pleasure to meet you, Mr. Wailani. I confess, I had some concern we would be the only ones who speak English on this voyage.”
Wailani showed an ear-to-ear grin. “The pleasure is all mine. I have had my fill of Russians lately.”
“D’ye meet many Russians in your line, then?” Iseabail put in.
Wailani nodded. “Though I am a mere man of business, the Kingdom of Hawai’i nevertheless thinks I am a worthy economic ambassador for our little island paradise. The Soviets are national partners, as are the Central Americans. I spend much of my time traveling. Fortunately, I am returning home for a time.” Wailani spread his arms. “Enough talk of me. To meet fascinating strangers is one of life’s delights. Tell me of yourselves.”
Cannon gave a little laugh, then embarked on a round of that traditional British sport, self-deprecation. “I’m rather afraid you’re the more fascinating personality. The lives we lead must seem terribly dull by comparison. Mrs. Smith and I are archaeologists working under the British Museum.
Wailani laughed, a booming sound as deep as his voice, but no less musical. “Archaeologists! Fascinating indeed. What brings you to the Red Banner?”
“We’re headed tae Yokohama,” Iseabail said. “An’ India, after tha’. Our tommies found a temple wha’ hae been lost ta time near Assam.”
“And what brought you to Panama?”
“I am something of a specialist in pre-Columbian peoples of Central America,” Cannon said sheepishly. “An acquaintance of Mrs. Smith called on me to give my opinion on a find of his.”